The peony is outrageously beautiful in bloom from spring to summer—with lush foliage all summer long. Here’s how to grow peonies and get the best peony flowers in your garden.
The fattest and most scrumptious of all flowers, a rare fusion of fluff and majesty, the peony is now coming into bloom.
–Henry Mitchell, American writer (1923-93)
Peonies are perennials that come back every year to take your breath away. In fact, the plants may live longer than you do—some have been known to thrive for at least 100 years.
When Is Peony Season? When Do Peonies Bloom?
Peonies bloom from late spring through early summer, depending on your location and the variety of peony you’re growing.
Many nurseries offer early, midseason, and late blooming varieties, making it possible for you to stretch out the peony season over many weeks and enjoy those lovely blooms for as long as possible!
Peonies are hardy to Zone 3 and grow well as far south as Zones 7 and 8. In most of the U.S., the rules for success are simple: provide full sun and well-drained soil. Peonies even relish cold winters, because they need chilling for bud formation.
Types of Peony Flowers
There are six peony flower types to choose from: anemone, single, Japanese, semi-double, double, and bomb. Fragrances vary as well—some plants such as ‘Festiva Maxima’ and ‘Duchesse de Nemours’ have intoxicating rose-like scents while others are lemony or have no scent at all.
Where to Plant Peonies
Peonies make fine sentinels lining walkways or a lovely low hedge. After its stunning bloom, the peony’s bushy clump of handsome glossy green leaves lasts all summer, and then turns purplish-red or gold in the fall, as stately and dignified as any flowering shrub.
In mixed borders, peonies bloom with columbines, baptisias, and veronicas, and combine well with irises and roses. Plant white peonies with yellow irises and a froth of forget-me-nots; set off pink peonies with blue Nepeta or violets.