Four Weeks of Peonies: You Can Grow That!

"They flop!" "They last such a short time..." These are the two main objections I hear when planting peonies enters the conversation. The rebuttal is this: Plant non-flopping varieties, and plant lots. What follows is a sequence of blooms that began this year on May 15, and today, haven't finished.
Tree peony 'Princess Chiffon'

I have four varieties of tree peonies, and if you keep them out of the wind and provide just a bit of well-placed support, you won't need to worry about flopping. Give them partial shade, especially in a hot climate, and the blooms will stay colorful longer on the plant.

Peony 'Roselette's Child'

While the single type of peony doesn't seem to last as long as those with more petals, they stand up better to rain and wind. One that stands up well, is somewhat short-statured, and bloomed May 28 this year is 'Roselette's Child'. This is its first year to bloom since I planted it so it only had a few flowers. But the number of flowers will increase as the plant matures.

Peony 'Abalone Pearl'
'Abalone Pearl' also has fewer petals than the well-loved doubles, but its color is so ethereally-beautiful it's hard to resist. It and 'Pink Hawaiian Coral' were in bloom this year by May 28.

Peony 'Pink Hawaiian Coral'
Skip into June and the rest of the 40 or so plants begin to pop. 'Ariadne', a tree peony with lots of sunset colors is still blooming, after starting nearly a week ago.
One of my favorites for being a "stand-up" plant is 'Madame Ducel' a very old variety that is fragrant to boot!
Madame Ducel
Intersectional peony 'Yellow Doodle Dandy'
Another group of peonies that will extend the season and let you kiss the stakes goodbye are the intersectionals, or Ito peonies. These crosses between tree and herbaceous peonies have a long bloom season because they send up blooming stems from below and above the ground. Their flowers are nearly as elaborate as those of tree peonies, and you can cut them back to the ground in the fall.

As of today, there are at least half a dozen varieties that haven't begun to open yet. It's best to buy peony roots in fall, especially the herbaceous types. And I have had the most success buying through specialty peony nurseries, having ordered from the following:

I really hadn't planned to cause you any stress, but you may experience a light-headedness when viewing any of these websites. It's caused by the sheer number of forms, types, colors and bloom season. If you'd like to find out about some of the peonies that do well in a Zone 5-6 garden with some shade, take a look at Peony Bloom Season Part I and Part II. Part III will be coming soon, possibly followed by a Part IV. But remember--the more varieties you buy, the longer the peony bloom season will be in your garden!

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  1. Many years ago I bought 2 herbaceous peonies from Reath's: Bev and Rozella. They both have such strong stems they have never needed staking, no matter what the weather. They just do not flop. If you read the catalog descriptions carefully, you can find non-floppers even among the herbaceous peonies. Pictures here: Good to meet another peony enthusiast!

    1. Hi Kathy,
      I have 'Rozella', and had it planted in the wrong spot, but in the year it bloomed it was great!

  2. Stunning photos. The longer I garden the more I appreciate peonies. Thanks for this write up.

    1. I'm so glad you're planting peonies. They've gotten a bad rap and it looks like they're finally being "rediscovered."