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PAEONIA lactiflora

Image of Paeonia lactiflora

Gerald L. Klingaman

Family

Paeoniaceae

Botanical Name

PAEONIA lactiflora

Plant Common Name

Herbaceous Peony

General Description

Herbaceous peonies are an all-time garden favorite. These large, bushy perennials originate from eastern Asia and have been bred for thousands of years. There are literally hundreds of wonderful cultivars available, and plants are commonly sold in catalogs because their fleshy rooted crowns are easy to store and ship. They are also virtually impossible to grow from seed and can take years before they first flower post germination.

They are primarily grown for their large, showy flowers that may be single, semi-double or double and come in an array of fancy forms. These may be milky white, rose-red, pale pink, burgundy or butter yellow. Bloom time is cultivar dependent, though the temporal range is from spring to early summer, so they may be early, mid- or late-season bloomers. Their large, dark green leaves have a bold texture and are often tinted with red or bronze early in the season.

Peony flowers are very fragrant and make outstanding cut flowers. In fact, their sweetness tends to attract ants, which can be found climbing the stems to gather nectar from the round, bulbous, unopened peony buds.

Peonies grow best in full to partial sun and well-drained, fertile soil. Double-flowered varieties tend to have very heavy flowers and may require staking. These old-fashioned perennials are very long-lived and have been known to survive in gardens for over 100-years. Plant them in foundation plantings or any floral border.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    8 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    3 - 9

  • Sunset Zone

    A1, A2, A3, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20

  • Plant Type

    Perennial

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    2'-4' / 0.6m - 1.2m

  • Width

    2'-4' / 0.6m - 1.2m

  • Bloom Time

    Late Spring, Early Summer

  • Native To

    Asia

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White, Red, Light Yellow, Pink, Rose, Burgundy, Ivory

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Red, Dark Green, Bronze

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Dark Green, Bronze

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single, Double, Semi-Double

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Cutflower, Feature Plant, Foundation, Mixed Border

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No