Peonies are stunning, dependable, and long-lived perennials. These stars of the perennial border are tough, easy to grow and produce huge showy flowers. They require full sun (at least 6 hours) and rich well-drained soil. When planting peonies ensure to give plants room to grow; they are a plant that likes to be left undisturbed indefinitely. If you need to relocate or divide your peony only do so in September and be patient as it may take several years for plants to bloom.
Peonies are a huge group of plants and each year more varieties are introduced. Here are the many different types of peonies:
Garden Peony: These are the most popular types of peony that produces large, colourful, and fragrant flowers. Plants form an upright bushy clump of glossy dark green leaves that remain attractive all season long. The flowers of these varieties come in shades of pink, red, and white; and bloom between late spring and early summer. The fragrance and size of the flowers varies between varieties.
There are a large number of cultivars within this group that have been divided into different categories based on the petal count of the flowers.
Here are the different categories:
- Single flowers – open single flowers, usually with yellow stamens in the centre
- Japanese – unique group that produce single flowers with very prominent centres. Bowl of Beauty is one of the most popular types of Japanese peony.
- Semi-double – fuller flower then single.
- Double - very full flowers.
Common Peony: These are not really all that common, this group produces large flowers a couple weeks earlier than garden peonies. They form a bushy upright mound of glossy dark green leaves that stay attractive all season long. The flowers of these varieties come in shades of pink, red, and white; and only one flower is produced per stem. Here are some varieties of common peonies:
- Anemoniflora Rosea
- Rosea Plena
- Rubra Plena
Fernleaf Peony: a rare, unique plant that forms a low bushy clump of finely divided green leaves. Produces stunning double crimson-red flowers on stems held above the leaves in the early spring before the garden peonies start their show. A stunning hardy and adaptable plant; a must have for collectors!
Intersectional Peony (ITOH) : These are a spectacular hybrid that comes from crossing garden peonies with tree peonies. ITOH peonies are highly sought after because they are hardy, easy to grow plants that are herbaceous and come in a wide variety of colours. They form a sturdy, upright mound of divided dark green leaves that stay attractive all season long. Produce huge flowers in shades of pink, red, yellow, orange, and white in singles, semi-double and double, bi-colour, striped, ruffled, picotee. Blooms appear in late spring to early summer, flowering starts later then garden peonies.
These are exciting varieties and each year new introductions are released. They are stunning, disease resistant plants!
Tree Peonies: These are large, shrub-like plant that develops a woody base and stems. They are considered a zone 4 and should be planted in a sheltered site and mulched for the winter. They produce huge flowers in red, purple, yellow white, and pink in mid to late spring. These slow growing plants prefer a part-shade location and should not be pruned back as they flower on old wood. Tree Peonies make a striking specimen, perfect for a sheltered site.