(pee-o' nee-ah)

Common name:Peony, Chinese Peony, Hybrid Peony

Family: Paeoniaceae, Peony

Height x width: 3' x 3'

Growth rate, habit: slow; upright

Foliage: alternate, biternate, elliptical to lanceolate leaflets either entire or lobed

Flowers: reds, pink, whites and combinations; various forms (see below); 3-6" across, usually quite fragrant; early summer; 5-10 day period of bloom

Hardiness: zones 3-8

Soil: well-drained

Light: sun, part shade for pastel colors especially in south

Pests and Problems: no flowering from excess shade or fertility prior to bloom, too deep planting, late spring freeze or tree root competition; botrytis and phythophthora blights, leaf spots, root rots, verticillium wilt, viruses, beetles, scales, nematodes, thrips; ants are often found on peony buds going after the sugary nectar but causing no problem to flowers

Landscape habit, uses: specimen in borders, cut flowers

Other interest: mostly native to China and adjacent regions of Asia, but some species found east to Mediterranean and Spain; named after the Greek physician Paeon, who Pluto supposedly changed into a flower; shown through geology to have existed 100,000 years ago

Other culture: some cultivars may lack sufficient cold in zone 8 to bloom; often need staking such as with peony rings or tomato cage halves, especially many older cultivars

Propagation: division of clumps in late summer, early fall into 3-5 "eye" (buds on roots) pieces, plant only 1" deep; requires 3 years usually before reblooms; may live 50 years or more without division if sufficient space


Of the 20 or so species currently known, the following three are perhaps the most common in American gardens.

lactiflora (lac-ti-floor' ah)--Hybrid Peony, as described above. species of many herbaceous hybrids especially more old-fashioned ones and often used strictly to refer to them, modern hybrids often complex crosses of other hybrids and species

tenuifolia  (ten-uu-i-fol' ee-ah)--Fernleaf Peony, zones 3-8, finely divided foliage like a "fern", deep red single flowers except for 'Plena' ('Flore Plena', 'Rubra Plena') with double flowers

suffruticosa (suf-fruu-ti-co' sah)--Tree Peony or Moutan, zones 4-7, 3-5' erect and branched shrub with main woody stem(s), reds to white and even yellow 6-8" across, some produce 75-100 flowers over a 2-month spring-summer period; often grafted onto lactiflora; used in China over 1600 years ago and native to remote regions of China; often quite expensive; most tree peonies are proposed by recent (1992) Chinese research to be ancient hybrids of 4 native Chinese species and to be lumped into this species for simplicity. Itoh hybrids have colors and somewhat leaves of tree peony and lower habit of hybrids. (photo courtesy mem_from_somerville,

 Cultivars: (of lactiflora)

Of the over 1300 available, the following are some of the most popular, commonly available in the U.S. and recommended by growers and references.

Flower forms include:

•Single--fertile center, single layers of 5 or more petals

•Semi-double--fertile center, several layers of petals

•Double--usually sterile, central flower parts transformed into petaloids

•Japanese--5 or more petals surrounding center of colored staminoides (sterile stamens)

•Anemone--between Japanese and Double, center filled with colored staminoides
Cultivar intro color, flower other form timing
'A.B. Franklin' 1928 white, rose tones Double late
'America' 1976 scarlet Single early-mid
'Barrington Belle' 1971 rose-red, rose pink center, red staminoides Anemone mid
'Bonanza' 1947 dark red Double mid
'Bowl of Cream' 1963  white Double late
'Charlie's White' 1951 white, fragrant, good cut Double mid
'Coral Charm' 1964 coral to peach Semi-double early
'Coral 'n Gold' 1981 coral, cup-shaped petals Single early
'Do Tell' 1946 orchid pink outer, rose pink staminoides Japanese late
'Duchesse de Nemours' 1856 white, light yellow center, cut standard Double mid
'Edulis Superba' 1824 rose pink, fragrant, good cut Double mid
'Elsa Sass' 1930 white outer, pale pink and yellow inner Double very late
'Emma Klehn' 1951 very dark pink Double very late
'Felix Crousse' 1881 carmine red, silver tint, good cut Double late
'Felix Supreme' 1955 red, improved 'Felix Crousse', good cut Double late
'Festiva Maxima' 1851 white, crimson flecks, fragrant, popular Double mid
'Gardenia' 1955 white to pink, gardenia shape Double late
'Gay Paree' 1933 cherry pink, white inner, pink petaloids Japanese late
'Pink Hawaiian Coral' 1981 coral pink semi-double early-mid
'Honey Gold'   white, pale yellow center, cut, fragrant Double late
'Jan van Leeuwen' 1928 white, medium size, strong stems Japanese very late
'Kansas' 1940 red, good in the south, good cut Double mid
'Karl Rosenfeld' 1908 crimson red Double mid
'Krinkled White' 1928 white, yellow center, green pistils, good cut Single late
'Lady Alexandra Duff' 1902 clusters of blush pink, small size Double late
'Lowell Thomas' 1934 dark red, stamens show, medium size, low Double late
'Miss America' 1936 white, good cut, standard for class Semi-double mid
'Mme. de Verneville' 1885 white, crimson in center, fragrant, good cut Double late
'Mons. Jules Elie' 1888 most popular pink, good cut, fragrant Double mid
'Moonstone' 1943 white, pale pink inner, good cut Double mid-late
'Mother's Choice' 1950 white, compact habit, wide leaves Double late
'Mrs. F.D. Roosevelt' 1932 light pink, cup-shaped blooms, fragrant Double late
'Mrs. L. Farrand' 1935 salmon-pink, glossy, needs staking Double very late
'Myrtle Gentry' 1925 salmon pink turning white,very fragrant Double very late
'Nice Gal' 1965 frosted rose pink, low Semi-double late
'Nick Shaylor' 1931 pink changing white, stake, excellent Double late
'Norma Volz' 1962 light pink, yellow tints Double late
'Paul M. Wild' 1964 velvety red, resists fading Double late
'Paula Fay' 1968 vivid pink, 5 rows of petals, good cut Semi-double early
'Philippe Rivoire' 1911 red Double mid-late
'Pillow Talk' 1973 light pink, rose form, glossy foliage Double late
'Princess Margaret' 1960 dark pink rose, fragrant, cup-shaped Double late
'Raspberry Sundae' 1968 pink, reddish tips, mild fragrance Double mid-late
'Red Charm' 1944 dark red, waxy, mounded blooms, excellent Double mid
'Reqiem' 1941 rose red, good cut, compact habit Double late
'Richard Carvel' 1913 red Double mid-late
'Sarah Bernhardt' 1906 dark rose pink, stake, good cut standard Double late
'Scarlet O'Hara' 1956 red, large, vigorous habit, long roots Single mid
'Shawnee Chief' 1940 dark red, medium size, good cut Double mid
'Top Brass' 1968 white, yellowish center, fragrant, good cut Double  late
'Vivid Rose' 1952 dark pink, very fragrant, good cut, vigorous Double very late
'Westerner' 1942 light pink, bowl-shape, yellow staminoides Japanese late
'Walter Faxon' 1904 rose Double mid-late

Tree Peony Cultivars: (generally of suffruticosa)

Of the many available, the following are some of the most popular, commonly available in the U.S. and recommended by growers and references.
Cultivar color form timing
'Age of Gold' yellow to gold semi-double early-mid
'Banquet' red, gold marks under semi-double early-mid
'Black Panther' mahogany red semi-double early-mid
'Black Pirate' dark red, darker flares single or semi-double early-mid
'Chinese Dragon crimson, darker flares single or semi-double early-mid
'Companion of Serenity' light pink, darker centers single early
'Gauguin' (lutea hyb.) yellow, red center, variable single early
'Godaishu' white semi-double early
'Golden Vanitie' yellow single early-mid
'Guardian of the Monastery' lavender-pink, red flares single early
'Hanakisoi' perhaps best bright pink semi-double mid
'High Noon' yellow, red flares, fragrant semi-double early-mid, fall
'Kamata-fuji' purple double early-mid
'Kamata-nishiki' dark purple, rose-like semi-double early
'Leda' (lutea hyb.) pink, darker streaks, fragrant semi-double early
'Persephone' yellow semi-double early-mid
'Renkaku' white semi-double early
'Savage Splendor' white, rose, lavender single early-mid
'Shimadaigin' purple semi-double early-mid
'Shintenchi' pink to white, dark flares semi-double early
'Taiyo' ruby red semi-double early
'Themis' light pink to red base semi-double mid
'Tria' yellow, crinkled, 3/stem single early
'Yachiyo-tsubaki' coral pink (excellent) semi-double early
'Yae Zakura' pink semi-double early
'Zephyrus' pink and peach, red flares semi-double early-mid

©Authored by Dr. Leonard Perry, Professor, University of Vermont as part of PSS123 course.

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