Peonies are a very flower for the garden but like most flowers, there are several types of peonies you can choose from. Also like many flowers, peonies bloom in many colors (as you’ll see below).
Below we break down your peonies options and then set out which ones grow best where. It’s an extensive peonies guide.
Table of Contents
Types of Peonies
Peonies are popular because they are easy to grow, low maintenance, and, of course, attractive. They also come in many different varieties and types, including the following:
Also known as bush peonies, this variety dies to the ground in winter then re-emerges once the snow melts, usually around March. Herbaceous peonies require very little care and are sturdy and long-lasting. Many people also find that they are deer-resistant while others do not notice this quality. The peony known as Red Charm is an example of an herbaceous peony. They come in two main types:
Also known as intersectional peonies, these are a cross between the herbaceous peony and the tree peony. Since they are hybrids, they come in a wide variety of beautiful and eye-catching colors. These peonies, similarly to the herbaceous ones, die in the winter and their bush form is nice and round, though shorter than many of the other bush peonies. Itoh peonies are fairly new but are very strong and durable, making them an extremely popular choice for flower lovers who are specifically looking for peonies. Since they are so popular and are a recent development, they are sometimes a little more expensive than other types of peonies. One example of an Itoh peony is the Bartzella.
These peonies get their name because of their woody stems and they defoliate every fall. The stems, however, stay above the ground and intact and when they do bloom, they tend to do so earlier than the bush peony. They are slow to increase but have larger flowers than other types of peonies. Tree peonies can be as short as twenty inches or as tall as eight feet or more and they are frequently sold by what color they are. They are perennial in nature and resume growth in the spring, having stopped their growth the previous fall. The Boreas peony is an example of a tree peony. In addition, because they can get nipped by the spring frost, these peonies can sometimes be a little more difficult to take care of, requiring more overall care than other types of peonies.
Bloom Types for Peonies
Like most flowers, peonies have petals, the large ones being called guard petals, that usually surround a center made of stamens. The shape of the flower is determined by the pattern that the petals are in compared to its center, which varies depending on the type of peony it is. Just as there are different varieties of peonies, there are also five distinct types of blooms, which include the following:
These consist of a single row of a few broad petals. The row usually surrounds a mass of stamens and carpels so there is a wide center and large, beautiful petals surrounding it. The rows of large petals surrounding the almost perfectly round stamens give the flower a unique look and since they come in various colors and shades, you can always find single peonies you love. Samples include Sea Shell, Scarlett O’Hara, Athena, Dad, Imperial Red, and Krinkled White.
These peonies have filaments that have irregular shape and design and the stamens are mixed throughout the petals. There are usually several rows of petals surrounding the center, giving the flower a layered look that is quite attractive. When the flower is in bloom, its pollen-bearing anthers can be seen and its stamen can be a prominent feature of this type of flower. Semi-double peonies have guard petals which may or may not be different than the other petals and varieties include the Buckeye Belle, Paula Fay, Miss America, and Coral Charm.
With these types of peonies, the petals start to double and the stamens’ filaments are quite broad. The anthers are extremely large; therefore, the flower tends to stand out among the various peony types. These peonies are not named because they come from Japan; in fact, they do not. However, the Japanese have long admired these flowers, which is why they are called what they are called. They can have a layered look as well and their center can be very large, making the petals look a little smaller than other types of peonies. The anemone type of Japanese peony has petals that are small and somewhat curved towards the center, and in some one- to two-year plants, there appears to be side blooms and flowers because of the distinct shape. Varieties include the Madame Butterfly, Gertrude Allen, and the Nippon Beauty.
These are the results of the doubling process becoming complete. If you look at some of these full-double peonies, you notice several layers of petals without a center but that is because the other parts of the flower develop into the petals. The carpels’ and stamens’ development into petals make them look just the same as the guard petals and in some varieties, the petals are a little shorter and smaller. In other words, it looks as if full-double peonies have petals only and no stamen or stigma. Their varieties include the Tourangelle, Ann Cousins, Paul M. Wild, Gardenia, and Kansas.
The bomb peony
This type has no crown but has petals that are the result of both carpels and stamens and the petals are quite broad. The bomb peony looks a little like the full-double peonies and are very globular in shape. Once again, all you see with the bomb peony are the petals, which give the flower a very round look that is really quite attractive. The flower resembles a neatly sculptured, ball-shaped flower, especially in the center. In addition, although large, the bomb peony’s petals are still somewhat different than the guard petals. Varieties include the Red Charm, Monsieur Jules Elie, and Raspberry Sundae.
23 Peonies Varieties
The United States is divided into thirteen zones for planting and growing. Wherever you live, it is easy to find the information you need regardless of which plant you’re hoping to grow. The varieties listed below are good for zones 3 to 7 and some are also good if you live in Zone 8. These are just some of the recommendations for growing peonies, sorted in alphabetical order:
● Better Times
● Big Ben
● Bowl of Beauty
● Burning Bright
● Coral Charm
● Coral Supreme
● Do Tell
● Fern Leaf Peony
● Festiva Maxima
● Gay Paree
● Green Halo
● Karl Rosenfield
● Krinkled White
● Paula Fay
● Pillow Talk
● Prairie Moon
● Raspberry Sundae
● Sarah Bernhardt
● Spider Green
● Sweet Marjorie
This type of peony is often dark pink in color and offers a very dramatic look.
Peonies come in different sizes so they can be tall or short and they come in a wide variety of colors. Most of them need soil that is well-drained and a lot of watering in between. If you’re interested in learning whether they bloom in mid- or late-season, a little research on the Internet should help. Most are not native to North America but they still do exceptionally well here. Peonies truly offer something for everyone because regardless of the type of flowers you prefer, it is good to know that they come in a wide variety of colors and styles, making them one flower that everyone will love.
Health Benefits Associated with Peonies
Although many people may not realize it, peonies also have amazing health benefits due to the many ingredients that are naturally found in the flower. In most cases, drinking it as a tea can relieve a lot of ailments, including the ones you can be found below:
● Hay fever
Peony can reduce symptoms such as sneezing and others if you use the Japanese herbal type.
● Dilates blood vessels
Peony has been shown to relax the aorta, which in turn relaxes the blood vessels.
Red peony can reduce liver enzymes, symptoms, or both in some people.
● Diabetes and weight loss
When given peony root, mice have shown a decrease in food intake and increased tolerance to glucose, thereby helping them lose weight and avoid diabetes.
● Liver protection
Because of its antioxidant capabilities, peony protects the liver by lowering inflammatory chemical levels there.
● Blood-thinning capabilities
Peony prevents platelet aggregation and slows down coagulation of the blood, which allows blood to flow more freely throughout the body.
● Great for the heart
Red peony and moutan bark can lower cholesterol and therefore help boost overall heart health.
● Has antioxidant capabilities
Peony protects against free radicals in the environment.
● Great for a host of female problems
Peony helps improve fertility in women suffering from polycystic ovarian syndrome, and, when used with herbs such as dong quai, can help reduce premenstrual symptoms and cramps.
● Helps with dementia
Peony has been shown to greatly increase mental function in mice, although human studies have yet to be conducted.
As with any medicinal flowers and herbs, it is always best to check with your doctor before using any type of remedy involving peonies. Certain people may have to avoid using these remedies, including women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Regardless of the condition you’re trying to ease, your doctor will look at all other conditions you have and all the medications you’re currently taking, and then make the decision that is best for you and your needs.