Size: 2.5’ to 3’ tall and wide
Hardiness: zones 3-8
Leaves: glossy divided leaves have oval, to lanceolate leaflets 3” to 8” long.
Leaf Color: dark green
Flowers: Many flower types, species has ruffled petals in whites, pinks, and reds that surround a tuft of yellow stamens. Flower types include Single, Japanese, Anemone, Semi-Double, Double, and Bomb-Double. Flowers open in May (usually Memorial Day) but bloom time can vary slightly (by a few weeks) depending on cultivar.
Fruit: a capsule
Habit: rounded shrub
Nativity: China, Burma, Japan
Insects & Disease Issues: Few issues. Sometimes leaf spot, Botrytis blight and Phytophthora blight. Ants on blooms are not a problem.
Culture and Uses:
These long-lived plants are best planted and left alone. Grow in full sun or part sun in well drained, fertile, moist soils. Deadhead flowers after bloom in late May. Remove foliage in the fall at ground level. Plants are beautiful in spring but hold little other interest throughout the year, except some marginal yellow fall color. For this reason be sure to place in the perennial border where the flowers can be appreciated in spring and the dark green foliage can be used as a backdrop for other plants the rest of the year. When peonies do not bloom it is either because they are too young or have recently been moved, they are planted at the wrong depth, they are in too much shade, or the flower buds where killed by a late frost. Most herbaceous peonies (the ones that die to the ground each year) are either selections or crosses of P. lactiflora, P. officinalis, P. japonica, or any of about 26 other species.
Notable Cultivars & Related Species:
Dozens and dozens of cultivars—pick your favorite.
P. suffruticosa (tree peony) - these large shrub-like peonies have woody stems and flowers in red, pink, white, and yellow. Reliably hardy to zone 5.
P. tenuifolia (fern-leaf peony) - finely divided, fern-like foliage, smaller habit, herbaceous, can be difficult to establish
Itoh peonies (intersectional) - a cross between herbaceeous and tree peonies, usually have large tree peony flowers on herbaceous stems.