Peonies are loved for their elegance, alluring fragrance, breathtaking colors, and symbolism. This famed ornamental has long been a favorite flower among florists, wedding planners, home decorators, gardeners, and flower enthusiasts. In this guide, you’ll learn about the meaning and symbolism behind these summer-blooming beauties, including their history and origins, popular types, and best gifting occasions.
- Peony Flower Meaning: The Essentials
- About The Peony Flower:
- Peony Flower Meaning, Symbolism, and Origins:
- Cultural Significance of Peony Flowers
- Yellow Peony Flower Meaning & Symbolism:
- Red Peony Flower Meaning & Symbolism:
- Pink Peony Flower Meaning & Symbolism
- White Peony Flower Meaning & Symbolism:
- Festiva Maxima Peonies:
- Rosellete Peonies:
- Tips to Consider when Buying Peonies:
- How to Care For Peonies:
- Petal Republic’s flower and plant guides:
Peony Flower Meaning & Symbolism – The Essentials
In the language of flowers, the peony carries the symbolic meaning of romance, compassion, good luck, prosperity, a happy marriage, and even bashfulness. In their native China, peonies are often referred to as the “queen of flowers” and are the official state flower of Indiana.
About The Peony Flower
The peony hails from the genus Paeonia. There are thought to be between 25 to 40 known species of this flowering plant today, as well as many cultivars.
Peonies are beloved for their ornate, delicate petal structure and sweet-scented fragrance. They also cover a wide spectrum of colors including white, 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.
Peony flowers are also known for their short blooming season which typically occurs in late spring through to early summer each year.
Peony Flower Meaning, Symbolism, and Origins:
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 had been watching them flirt with each other. Aphrodite got angry and transformed Paeonia into a red peony.
Generally, peony flowers symbolize positive meanings. Depending on the color or variety, they represent romance, compassion, good luck, prosperity, happy marriage, and even bashfulness.
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 are often referred to as the “queen of flowers ” (or “king of flowers” according to other reports). Before the plum tree, peonies were considered the country’s national flower.
They also had an important role during the Sui and Tang dynasties, gracing the Imperial Palace during that time. Because of this history, peonies also symbolize honor and wealth.
A city in China called Luoyang is also known as the City of the 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 cultivars.
Along with their importance in China, the peony flower is the official state flower of Indiana.
This famed ornamental is a common sight at weddings, often found in wedding decorations or bridal bouquets. It is also considered the official 12th wedding anniversary flower.
The peony is the birth month flower of November. Give this birth flower to someone special, choosing the right color to convey your appreciation.
Peony Flower Color Meaning & Symbolism
Yellow Peony Flower Meaning & Symbolism
Much like other yellow flowers, yellow peonies symbolize new beginnings and good fortune. 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 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 peony that produces semi-double flowers with pale or buttery yellow petals. Hints of red flares at the petal base add more drama to this beauty. This lightly fragrant peony variety has a long vase life and typically lasts over a week if cut in bud.
Another famed yellow peony variety is called Bartzella. These Itoh 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, this beautiful flower has a long vase life that usually lasts over a week.
Red Peony Flower Meaning & Symbolism
In the language of flowers, a red flower symbolizes passionate love and romance, such as the famed red rose. 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
Celebrating your 12th wedding anniversary or know a couple who are? Recognized as a symbol of a happy marriage in Feng Shui, honor, and fortune, pink peonies are the kind of flower that perfectly fits the occasion. Because of such recognition, it has been dubbed the official 12th wedding anniversary flower.
These delicate flowers are also ideal gifts for Mother’s Day or other family celebrations.
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 is 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
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, or simply say, “I messed up.”
White peonies are also a fantastic wedding flower for decor or a wedding bouquet. They look wonderful in a vase as part of any flower arrangement, whether alone or paired with other white flowers.
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
- Bride’s Dream peonies
Popular Peony Varieties
Festiva Maxima Peonies
One of the most highly coveted herbaceous peony varieties is Festiva Maxima. The award-winning variety displays eye-catching large double flowers with pure white frilly petals with occasional hints of crimson red.
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.
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:
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:
- 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.
- If you’re growing in your garden, peonies also require a bit of maintenance to cut back, prune and deadhead each season.
For more, see our guide to cut peony flowers for vases and bouquet arrangements and how to divide peony plants in your garden.
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 flower guides to Roses, Jasmine, Edelweiss, Crabapple Blossom, Bouvardia, Ranunculus, Lilies, Acanthus, Irises, Tulips, Orchids, Carnations, Gerbera Daisies, Gladiolus, Borage, Coreopsis, Camellia, Clovers, Freesia, Anemone, Begonia, and Bluebells.
Madison is a writer and editor with a Bachelor’s degree in History and Political Science. She writes and photographs for various online and print publications in the gardening sphere and is the author of the book The Next-Generation Gardener.