The peony is available either in herbaceous perennials forming a tuft (herbaceous peony called Chinese peony), either in shrubs or under-shrubs (tree peony). Its foliage is still deciduous. A little capricious, the peony can take 2 to 5 years before flowering. It benefits from good hardiness and its longevity is enormous: the older it gets, the more it will flower! Be careful, if the peony likes it, don’t move it anymore because it will sulk…

Herbaceous peony or Chinese peony (Paeonia lactiflora)

The Chinese peony or herbaceous peony with tuberous root has been cultivated since the 8th century in China and symbolizes feminine beauty and love: it is the queen of flowers or the flower of honor and wealth. It has given rise to many cultivars.

Herbaceous peony or Chinese peony (Paeonia lactiflora)

The stems are erect and tinged with red. The deciduous, alternate leaves are composed of nine leaflets with variable shapes (oval, linear, lobed…) depending on the species, rough on the edges. They are dark green above and paler and somewhat fluffy below.

The flowers, which are fragrant for some species, can be single, semi-double, double, cup-shaped or ball-shaped. They each have 5 green sepals and 5 to 10 colored petals, with many pale yellow stamens. The size of the flowers varies from 5 to 10 cm in diameter for the small ones to more than 20 cm for the very large ones. They have medicinal properties.

Tree peony (Paeonia suffruticosa)

The tree peony or Moutan peony originates from China and more precisely from the Himalayas. It is a small shrub with an arched port, slow growth.

Tree peony (Paeonia suffruticosa)

Its alternate leaves are deciduous, they are composed of nine elliptical or oval leaflets with sharply cut pointed lobes. Their color is dark green and bluish green below.

The flowers are simple, with a maximum of ten petals, semi-double or double and appear in May-June in cups or bowls. They can reach 15 to 30 cm in diameter. They are solitary at the end of a long stem and dazzle with their finesse and perfection. They can be fragrant and of different colors, sometimes with a few brown spots at the base.

  • Family : Paeoniaceae

  • Kind : perennial

  • Origin : China, Japan, Europe, Western North America

  • Color : white, pink, red, yellow, purple flowers

  • Sowing: yes

  • Cutting: yes

  • Planting: September to April

  • Bloom : may to july

  • Height : up to 1 m (herbaceous) and 2 m (shrubby)

Ideal soil and exposure for planting a peony in the garden

The peony appreciates a deep, rich, healthy, rather humus-rich but well-drained soil. A sunny position without scorching sun suits it. It must be sheltered from drafts and cold drying winds.

The soil must be porous to avoid standing water, the number one cause of peony failure.

Date of planting and propagation of peonies

Sowing can be done but it is not recommended because the seeds can take several years to germinate!

Herbaceous tussock peonies divide in October or March, and root cuttings are made in winter. Be careful, the roots are very fragile.

Tree peonies can be taken from semi-hardwood cuttings in the summer. At this same season, grafting can be undertaken.

Planting is done from mid-September to April, keeping 70 to 80 cm apart between each foot. For herbaceous peonies, the pink buds should not be covered with more than 2-3 cm of soil otherwise the peony will only foliage. As for the tree peonies whose graft must take root, plant deep (10-15 cm) so that the variety develops vigorously.

Council of maintenance and culture of peonies

Peonies do not like to be disturbed, they are satisfied with little attention to make sumptuous flowers if their location suits them.

In the spring, feed the peony with manure, compost, bone meal or
horn. Remove faded flowers. Do not mulch the foot, this would promote cryptogamic diseases.

When is peony season?

The most beautiful flowering period for peonies is from May to July.

Watering peonies

Water generously in hot weather.

When and how to prune a tree peony?

The size of the herbaceous peony is not practiced. The tree peony is only pruned to balance the foliage in the fall.

Diseases, pests and parasites of peonies

Armillaria (rot) can destroy peony, whose stems rot. Thrips larvae and nematodes should be monitored.

Location and favorable association of peonies


Potted peony is not suitable at all. Plant the peony in clumps, alone or along borders, in clumps 2 to 3 feet tall, but never in containers or planters.

Varieties of peonies recommended to have beautiful flowers

Many tree peony cultivars have been developed, including: Paeonia suffruticosa ‘Banksii’ with purple-red flowers with white on the tip, Paeonia suffruticosa ‘Godaishu’with semi-double crumpled white flowers and yellow stamens, Paeonia suffruticosa ‘Kamata-nishiki’ with double mauve-reddish flowers, Paeonia suffruticosa ‘Queen Elisabeth’ semi-double, salmon-pink flowers with undulating edges of the petals…

We count a lot of also cultivars of herbaceous peonies among Paeonia ‘Dr. Alexander Fleming‘, very fragrant double pink peony, or Paeonia ‘White Cap’with a simple dark red fragrant flower with a white heart, Paeonia’ Bowl of Beauty‘, rose with an odorless cream heart, Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’with fragrant double white flowers stained with carmine…

The Itoh peonies (Paeonia x Itoh) Where intersectional peonies are hybrids between tree peonies and herbaceous peonies, resulting from a cross made in Japan by Toichi Itoh in 1948.

Blooming Peonies – Peony Flower

The peony flower comes in a multitude of shades around four main colors namely white, pink, red and yellow peony.

Pink peony flower

pink peony

white peony flower

white peony

Red peony flower

red peony

By Me

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