Despite their name, tree peonies (Paeonia suffruiticosa) are actually deciduous shrubs belonging to the Paeoniaceae family. These slow-growing plants often take decades to reach their mature heights. Native to China and Japan, the tree peony is winter hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8. There are numerous varieties of tree peonies.
The Hesperus tree peony (Peonia delavayi) typically grows between 3 and 5 feet tall with spreads that reach up to 4 feet. The May-blooming flowers bear crinkled petals in rose tones with just a touch of yellow. These petals surround a yellow center staminal clump. Tree peonies typically need well-drained, fertile soils in partially shady to fully sunny locations. This tree peony works well when planted along driveways, sidewalks or fences.
Feng Dan Bai
Feng Dan Bai (Paeonia ostii) is a tree variety that reaches up to 5 feet in height with a similar spread. The fragrant, white flowers feature yellow centers and ruffled petals. These flowers generally bloom in April. Gardeners should add compost to the soil before planting the Feng Dan Bai variety of tree peony. The showy flowers work well as a backdrop for other garden plants.
The Hana-kisoi tree peony (Peonia suffruticosa) grows between 3 and 5 feet tall with a similar spread. This variety features flowers that range from 6 to 9 inches in diameter. The large petals are pale pink to cherry red and surround yellow central stamens. The Hana-kisoi tree peony typically blooms in May. The green foliage retains its color throughout the season. These tree peonies work well when planted along walkways and walls.
Hei Hua Kui
The Hei Hua Kui (Paeonia suffruticosa) tree peony is a darker variety that features semidouble, fragrant, maroon to black flowers that bloom in the late spring. This tree peony ranges from 2 to 3 feet in height and has a 3- to 4-foot spread. The spent flowers should be pruned from the plant after the growing season. The bright yellow central stamens contrast nicely with the dark petals. The Hei Hua Kui variety works well as a frame for other flowers.
The Goldfinch (Paeonia) is a hybrid tree peony that grows about 4 feet long and 4 feet wide. The large, flowers bloom in May, featuring yellow petals surrounding yellow central stamens. This variety has some susceptibility to nematodes, scale and Japanese beetles. Potential disease problems include cankers, tip blight and leaf blotch. The Goldfinch tree peonies are often used as borders and accent plants.
The Paeonia suffruticosa is a tree peony that reaches 3 to 5 feet in height and typically has a 3- or 4-foot spread. The large flowers grow between 6 and 8 inches in diameter and feature white to pink petals. Each petal sports a purple patch. These flowers typically bloom in April and May. The green, pointed leaves typically hold their color throughout the season. Leggy plants should be pruned in the fall. This tree peony variety works well when planted in groups.