The Peony Flower: Origins, Meaning, Symbolism, Colors, and Care Tips.

What better gift to express thoughtfulness than peonies flowers? Compared to traditional offerings, peonies flowers are more personal. They are undeniably fascinating with their large rose-like blooms that exudes elegance, beauty, alluring fragrance, and breathtaking colors. What’s more, Peonies have a super short season for most of us each year. The famed ornamental only showcases beautiful blooms in spring or early summer, but they make excellent cut flowers. Because of this, they have long been a favorite flower among florists, wedding planners, home decorators, gardeners, and flower enthusiasts. Here we’ve crafted the ultimate guide on everything you need to know about these summer-blooming beauties, including Peony flower meaning & symbolism, cultural significance, colors, popular varieties, buying tips, care tips, and more. Enjoy!


The Peony Flower:

The Peony Flower

The peony flower hails from the genus Paeonia. There are thought to be between 25 to 40 known species of the flowering plant today.

They’re famed for their ornate, delicate petal structure and sweet-scented fragrance. They also cover a wide spectrum of colors including whites, yellow, pink, red, and even purple.

Peonies are native to a few different regions around the world including parts of Asia, Europe, and North America. Today they are one of the most popular gardens plants around – particularly in temperate regions where the flower truly flourishes.

The flowers are renowned for their short blooming season which typically occurs in late spring through to early summer each year.


Peony Flower Meaning, Symbolism, and Origins:

Peony Flower Meaning and Symbolism

There are a few stories about the name origin of these flowers. Some say that the name peony originated from Paeon (or Paean), the physician of the gods in Greek mythology. He was a student of the Greek god of medicine, Aesculapius. According to an old tale, when Paeon healed Pluto using a peony root, Aesculapius became too envious and tried to kill him. Zeus saved him from certain death by transforming him into a peony plant that many people loved and adored. 

There’s another famous story about the origins of peonies. According to another myth, a beautiful nymph named Paeonia caught the attention of Apollo. But she became self-conscious and turned red as soon as she realized that Aphrodite has been watching them flirt with each other. Aphrodite got angry and transformed Paeonia into a red peony.

Generally, peony flowers symbolize lots of beautiful meanings. Depending on the color or variety, peonies represent romance, compassion, good luck, prosperity, happy marriage, and even bashfulness.


Cultural Significance of Peony Flowers

Cultural Significance of Peony Flowers

Peonies are one of the most coveted flowers in many parts of the world. Carrying a rich history of uses in medicine and cultivation, these gorgeous blooms play vital roles in many cultures.

These highly valued flowers are native to China and often referred to as the “queen of flowers” (or “king of flowers” according to other reports). Before the plum tree, peonies were considered as the country’s national flower. They also took an important role during the Sui and Tang dynasties since they grazed the Imperial Palace during that time. Because of this relevance, peonies also symbolize honor and wealth.

A city in China called Luoyang is also known as the City of Peony since it houses the National Peony Garden and holds an annual festival of peonies. Founded in 1978, the Luoyang National Peony Garden showcases countless varieties of peonies. It also collects and breeds different peony kinds.

Peony flower is the official state flower of Indiana.

This famed ornamental is a common sight at weddings – may it be for wedding decorations or bridal bouquets. It is also considered as the official 12th wedding anniversary flower.


Yellow Peony Flower Meaning & Symbolism:

Yellow Peonies flowers
Yellow Peony

Much like other yellow flowers, yellow peonies symbolize new beginnings. Thus if you are looking to give a bunch of flowers to your new homeowner friend as a gift, yellow peonies are a good idea. Apart from their deep meaning, these blooms are a sure way to brighten up any dull spot in a home.

Yellow peonies come in various shades, including lemon yellow, butter yellow, and golden yellow, so you have plenty of choices. Prairie Charm peony is an award-winning Itoh hybrid that produces semi-double flowers with pale or buttery yellow petals. Hints of red flares at the petal base add more flair to this beauty. This lightly fragrant peony variety has a long vase life and typically lasts over a week if cut in buds.

Another famed yellow peony variety is called Bartzella peonies. Another Itoh hybrid, these yellow peonies exhibit large semi to double flowers that grow up to 8 inches wide. At the center of each Bartzella bloom is a hint of scarlet color for a more attractive appeal. Bartzella peonies are known for their fragrant, lemon-like scent. Like the Prairie Charm variety, Bartzella peony has a long vase life that usually lasts over a week.


Red Peony Flower Meaning & Symbolism:

Red Peony Flower Meaning

In the language of flowers, a red flower symbolizes passionate love and romance. So if you are thinking about which flower to get for your loved one or special someone, there are many red peonies that you could choose from.

Red Robin peonies are an example. This peony variety displays stunning double ruffled, vivid red petals. Not only are these peonies a show-stopper, but they also radiate a lovely scent that can be hard to resist.


Pink Peony Flower Meaning & Symbolism

Pink Peony Flower Meaning

Celebrating your 12th wedding anniversary or know a couple who are? Recognized as a symbol of a happy marriage, honor, and fortune, pink peonies are the kind of flower that perfectly fits the occasion. Because of such recognition, it has been dubbed as the official 12th wedding anniversary flower.

Some of the most popular pink peony varieties include Big Ben peonies, Angel Cheeks peonies, Myrtle Gentry peonies, Gay Paree peonies, Blaze peonies, Do Tell peonies, Bowl of Beauty peonies, and Fairy’s Petticoat peonies.

However, if you decide on picking out just one kind of peony, there is a particular variety that perhaps made for this special celebration – the Birthday peony. The Birthday peony cultivar produces large single flowers with pale pink petals and a vivid yellow center.


White Peony Flower Meaning & Symbolism:

White Peony
White Peony

Although commonly known as a symbol of beauty, white peonies also represent shame. Because of this, they make a great gift if you want to sincerely apologize, ask for forgiveness from someone for something you did, or simply express, “I messed up.”

Out of the countless white peony varieties available, here are some of the most popular and readily available: Charlie’s White peonies, White Towers peonies, Bowl of Cream peonies, Festiva Maxima peonies, and Bride’s Dream peonies.

One of the most highly coveted peonies is the Festiva Maxima peonies. The award-winning variety displays eye-catching large double flowers with pure white frilly petals with occasional hints of crimson red.


Festiva Maxima Peonies:

Festiva Maxima Peonies flowers
Festiva Maxima Peony

Also known as the ‘Queen of Flowers’, the availability of peonies can be minimal because of their seasonality – and this makes them even more special and worthy. Festiva Maxima peonies showcase elegantly layered white petals with small patches of crimson red at the center. 


Rosellete Peonies:

Rosellete Peony
Rosellete Peony

Congratulate a friend, family, or colleague with blush pink peonies like the Rosellete peony variety. Rosellette peonies are early blooming hybrid peonies. The feature cup-shaped large petals in an alluring shade of blush pink, which gives the right contrast to the bright golden yellow center.


Tips to Consider when Buying Peonies:

Tips to Consider When Buying Peony Flowers

There are factors to think about when purchasing the right peony flowers for you. Here are some quick tips to help you find the best peonies and maximize the beauty of their blooms.

  • Buy the freshest peonies. Get peonies in their bud form so you can fully enjoy their blooming process. If you buy peonies that are already in full bloom, they will not last long – only a few days at most.
  • Observe the leaves. Look out for any sign of pests and diseases as well as poor plant health conditions. Healthy peony plants should not have distinguishable leaf damages like yellowing, spots, and blemishes. Fungal infections are prevalent in peonies, so watch out for black or brown patches on the leaves or cankers on the stems as these are typical signs of fungal infestation in peonies. 
  • Inspect the stems. Avoid peonies with soft and discolored stems. Instead, pick ones with clean and sturdy stems. Discoloration often indicates the presence of bacteria in the plant.

How to Care For Peonies:

How to Care for Peony Flowers
  • Prepare a clean container or vase with at least three to four inches of room temperature water.
  • Before placing freshly brought home peonies in a vase or container, cut each of the stems 0.5 to 1 inch diagonally and remove any leaf that falls below the waterline.
  • Regularly observe the water level since peonies consume water quickly. Clean the vase or container and refill water as needed.
  • Remove as many leaves as possible if you want your peonies to open faster. Placing them in a warmer room likewise encourages an enhanced blooming rate.
  • Avoid putting the plant in direct sunlight or any direct heat source to minimize damage.
  • If you want to delay the blooming process, you can place the peonies in a dry area in a refrigerator. Avoid placing them near fruits and vegetables since these would only speed up the aging of the flowers. Another option to prolong blooming is to place the plants in a cold and dim room in your house.

Petal Republic’s flower and plant guides:

Looking for a particular stem or in need of some inspiration on the best blooms for a certain occasion? Check out Petal Republic’s expert buying guides to Roses, Ranunculus, Lilies, Irises, Tulips, Orchids, Carnations, Gerbera Daisies, Gladiolus, and Peonies.  


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We are a floristry, plant, and lifestyle city resource curated by a passionate team of horticulturists, floral & plant enthusiasts, budding designers, and intrepid urban gardeners. We're committed to showcasing the best in floral and plant design, sharing our experience and recommendations on the best blooms and greenery for every occasion, season, and living environment, and spreading our love of the enchanting world of flowers and plants.

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