Peonies are in the genus paeonia and include perennials and deciduous shrubs that grow in a clump-like form. Peonies have colorful and over-sized blooms that are oftentimes fragrant. Their blooms are double, semi-double or single, and range from 2 to 12 inches wide. The flowers are also are upright in form and cup-, bowl- or saucer-shaped and vary in their size and color. Peonies prefer deep, fertile and moist, well-drained soils.
The garden peony is a perennial shrub that grows in clumps between 1 and 3 feet high and wide. The upright red-tinged stems have leaves that are dark green in color. The leaves are lance-shaped with rough margins that bear one single flower. The cup-shaped flowers on the garden peony are pale pink to creamy white to contrast brilliantly with the dark green foliage. The blooms grow 3 to 4 inches wide and have a yellow stamen. Garden peonies are also fragrant flowers and emerge in late spring to last into the summer. Peonies are very long-lived perennial shrubs that are ideal as a shrub border or nestled within a flower bed. They prefer full to part shade and fertile, nutrient-rich soil that is moist. They can also be divided in early fall to place in other areas of the garden. The USDA Plant Hardiness zones for planting are 3 to 8.
Japanese Forest Peony
The Japanese forest peony is a perennial shrub that is striking along borders and garden beds. Japanese peonies grow in upright clumps that range from 1 to 3 feet tall and wide. Beginning in April, their red shoots emerge along with their egg-shaped leaves that grow 5 inches long. The leaves are a dark greenish red color when mature. The stem of the Japanese forest peony grows 18 inches long and bears a white chalice-like flower that is 2 inches wide. Japanese forest peonies prefer full sun to part shade and nutrient rich, moist soil, but not overly soggy. These striking flowers make for brilliant fresh cut blooms to use in an arrangement. The USDA hardiness zones for planting are 3 to 8.
Tree peonies are a slow growing woody shrubs that have an upright form and showy blooms. The tree peony grows in clumps 6 to 10 feet high and wide. This easy to grow shrubs has dark green leaves that are greenish blue on the underneath side of the leaf. The spring-blooming blooms are 6 to 12 inches wide and come in a wide range of colors, including pink, white, red and lavender. Tree peony flowers bloom best in dappled shade with three to four hours of direct sunlight a day. They require excellent drainage and nutrient-high soils and look classic along a raised garden bed. Tree peonies require transplanting in fall, approximately six weeks before the ground is frozen. The USDA hardiness zones for planting are 5 to 9.