Thanks to ruffled blooms atop long-lived plants, peonies are a garden favorite. And while multiple peony plants will make for a beautiful garden, you may want to mix in some other plants to create a diverse garden and help your peony thrive. Stay with us as we cover some of the best companion plants for peonies.
What Are Companion Plants?
Companion plants are plants that work well with, and even benefit, their neighboring plants. A companion plant often has the same ideal environment and growing conditions as the focus plant, so you can plant the two in the same area and provide similar care.
Companion plants may attract beneficial insects, repel pests, shade the soil to conserve moisture, and improve soil structure.
Tips for Choosing Companion Plants for Peonies
When choosing companion plants for peonies, you should consider the peonies’ ideal environment and choose plants with similar preferences. That means you should select plants that prefer rich and well-drained soil that stays moist.
Since peonies like lots of light, you shouldn’t choose larger plants that will shade out peonies. However, you can opt for shorter shade-loving plants that will benefit from the shade a peony plant can provide.
As far as how close to plant companion plants next to peonies, remember that many types of peonies are susceptible to fungal diseases, specifically Botrytis. That means leaving at least a foot of space around a peony plant to encourage good airflow.
If you’re interested in the appearance of your garden, consider choosing plants that bloom at different times than peonies. Since peonies flower in the late spring, planting summer-blooming flowers nearby can help add interest to your garden.
10 Best Companion Plants for Peonies
If you don’t know what to plant next to your peonies, consider selecting a few plants from this list of peony companion plants.
1. Daylily (Hemerocallis spp.)
When peonies finish blooming, daylilies can jump in and provide a welcome dose of color. And since you can plant daylilies in small clumps or large masses, they easily fit into whatever size area you have.
Both daylilies and peonies also prefer well-drained yet moist soil, so you can care for them the same way.
2. Roses (Rosa spp.)
Roses and peonies are two of the most well-known and well-loved flowering shrubs. And they happen to make a great pairing!
Many roses begin to bloom just as peony flowers are fading, which means planting these two plants together can supply months of continuous flowers.
3. Hosta (Hosta spp.)
If you’re looking for plants to tuck in the shade of your peony plants, shade-loving hostas can do the trick. Since there are so many different species and varieties of hostas, you can look for some that fit in well in your area.
If you want smaller plants to sit under your peony and act as a weed block and ground cover, look for dwarf varieties. And if you’d like bigger plants to sit a few feet in front of your peonies, choose larger hostas.
4. Ornamental Onion (Allium spp.)
While people often plant alliums like garlic, onions, and chives for their culinary uses, some varieties of these plants produce beautiful flowers. For example, ornamental onions produce large globe-shaped flowers in the late spring or early summer.
These tall and distinct blooms provide a nice contrast to the more delicate peony flowers.
5. Delphinium (Delphinium spp.)
While peonies are shrubs, they rarely grow over four feet tall, and many varieties max out at two or three feet. That means you have room to tuck the beautiful flowering delphinium behind the shrubs.
Delphinium, also known as larkspur, produces tall flower spikes in the spring or summer.
6. Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia)
One benefit of companion plants for peonies is that they can keep down weeds while also keeping in soil moisture. And the groundcover creeping Jenny does both of these!
This plant, also known as moneywort, has bright yellow-green foliage and small yellow flowers.
7. Sea Holly (Eryngium planum)
If you’re looking for a perennial plant to contrast against the peony’s delicate flowers, check out the spiky sea holly. This plant resembles thistle, with jagged leaves and round flowers.
You can find both blue and white varieties of sea holly.
8. Lilac (Syringa spp.)
Lilac shrubs are a few feet larger than peonies, which means that they can serve as a nice flowering backdrop to the peonies. Remember that lilacs will grow up and out, so leave adequate space between these two shrubs.
9. Iris (Iris spp.)
Another iconic garden flower is the iris. These flag-like plants produce large flowers that compliment the peony blooms.
While peonies bore their flowers on shrubs, irises have tough and pointed leaves that grow skyward.
10. Hydrangea (Hydrangea spp.)
Hydrangeas are other shrubs that make excellent companion plants for peonies. These plants often continue blooming after peony flowers fade, creating beauty and attracting beneficial insects like parasitic wasps and ladybugs.
Plants to Avoid
You should avoid planting creeping or spreading plants with strong root systems next to peonies. These plants’ roots can intertwine with peony roots and weaken them (peony roots can also freeze in winter).
That means keeping mint, yarrow, and lamb’s ear away from peonies.
You should also avoid planting spreading plants too close to peonies, as the plants may infringe on the peonies and limit the airflow around the shrubs.
Companion Plants for Peonies FAQs:
What Is the Best Place to Plant Peonies?
Choose an area with full sun and well-draining soil that can remain moist between waterings. Make sure to allow at least a foot of space around the peonies to allow for adequate airflow.
Do Peony Plants Spread?
Although peony plants will grow larger as they age, their root systems will not become invasive.
Can I Plant Peonies with Other Plants?
Yes, many other types of plants work well with peonies! Just ensure you provide enough space between plants to allow for adequate airflow.
Peonies are great garden shrubs that can grow well with various other plants. The best companion plants will have similar ideal environments and grow next to peonies without choking them out.