When you think of peonies, a few things may come to mind. Perhaps you think of their large and often ruffled blooms, the flowers’ relationship with ants, or the blooms’ strong fragrances. If you want to capitalize on the latter characteristic, check out the most fragrant peonies.
What Are Peonies?
Peonies are a group of flowering plants that belong to the Paeonia genus. These plants range from a foot to ten feet tall and can be woody or herbaceous.
Depending on the species, the plants are native to Asia, Europe, or North America.
All types of peonies have deeply lobed leaves and large, single flowers.
What Do Peonies Smell Like?
Just like flower shape and color vary between peony species and varieties, so does flower fragrance.
That said, many types of peonies have a distinctly floral scent. Some people say they smell like roses, jasmine, or even citrus.
The Most Fragrant Types of Peonies
If you’re growing peonies for their fragrance, you’ll want to pay attention to the species and variety. Here are some of the most fragrant peonies you can add to your garden.
Paeonia lactiflora ‘Duchesse de Nemours’
This is an old yet still popular peony variety known for its plethora of white flowers, which bloom during the late spring. The double blooms have a crown of small ruffled petals surrounded by larger and smooth outer petals.
The flowers have a strong floral fragrance that makes them a welcome addition to both bouquets and gardens.
This is a herbaceous peony that typically grows between two and three feet tall.
Paeonia lactiflora ‘Seashell’
‘Seashell’ has delicate single flowers with light pink flowers and bright yellow stamens. These six-inch flowers look like they could be straight out of a romantic movie—and their fragrance matches!
The flowers have a floral and slightly sweet scent that matches the flower’s delicate look.
And since the flowers appear on strong stems, this variety is well suited to cutting.
Paeonia lactiflora ‘Cora Stubbs’
All peonies are beautiful, but ‘Cora Stubbs’ is an absolute stunner. Its semi-double blooms sport bright pink exterior petals and creamy white and light pink interior petals.
This is also an herbaceous variety that grows about three feet tall.
The plants produce side buds, which increases the number of overall flowers on each plant. But if you want lots of flowers, make sure to provide this variety with full sun.
Paeonia lactiflora ‘Festiva Maxima’
This double-petal peony has large white flowers that are dotted with dark pink. The ruffled petals and large flowers make this variety a head-turner.
‘Festiva Maxima’ is more heat tolerant than many other varieties of double peonies. Therefore, it’s a great addition to Southern gardens or those with full sun.
Paeonia ‘Henry Bockstoce’
A hybrid peony, ‘Henry Bockstoce’, produces large bright red, double flowers. When you consider their eight-inch diameter and bold color, it’s easy to see why these flowers are showstoppers.
The flowers grow on long and strong stems. This means the plants rarely require staking but are excellent for cutting.
Paeonia lactiflora ‘Pecher’
These fragrant peonies were introduced in 1867 and have remained popular ever since.
The plant grows between three and four feet tall and produces lots of semi-double flowers. The flowers can range from light pink to white or a combination of the two.
Paeonia lactiflora ‘Eden’s Perfume’
As its name suggests, ‘Eden’s Perfume’ is a highly fragrant peony. Its fragrance is extremely strong and floral and reminiscent of rose perfume.
The flowers have double petals and a light pink color. Since they grow on sturdy stems, they also make great cutting flowers.
Paeonia lactiflora ‘Philomele’
Another fragrant peony variety, ‘Philomele’ produces pink anemone-type flowers in the late spring and early summer. The guard petals are often a bit deeper and darker than the interior petals, creating a subtle contrast.
Like all the flowers on this list, ‘Philomele’ has fragrant flowers that fill spaces with floral scents.
Peonies with Little Fragrance
Not everyone loves the scent of peonies. If you find the fragrance offensive or irritating, check out these peony varieties with little to no fragrance.
- ‘Nick Shaylor’: full double flowers that are light pink
- ‘Armani’: dark maroon full double blooms
- ‘Etched Salmon’: full double, light salmon flowers
- ‘Kansas’: full double variety with deep magenta blooms
- ‘Mary Jo Legare’: bright pink full double flowers
Fragrant Types of Peonies: Wrapping Up
No matter if you’re looking for highly fragrant peonies or flowers with no scent, you can find a variety for you.
For more, see our ultimate guide to growing peonies in your garden.
Briana holds a B.S. in Plant Sciences from Penn State University. She manages a small market garden where she grows vegetables and herbs. She also enjoys growing flowers and houseplants at home.
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