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The Most Beautiful Types of Peonies Including Tree Peonies, Herbaceous Peonies, and Itoh Peonies

Flower enthusiasts love peonies both for growing in gardens and including in floral arrangements and bouquets. Thanks to their many symbolic meanings – including love, happy marriage, happy life, honor, beauty, romance, and prosperity – these frilly blossoms are a popular choice for weddings and for offering any recipient best wishes, goodwill, and happiness on any occasion. This guide will take you through some of the most popular types of peony flowers for your garden or next floral arrangement. 

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About Peonies

About Peonies

Countless types of peony cultivars and varieties exist. However, there are currently just 33 officially recognized species of peony (paeony) plants that make up the Paeonia genus, the only genus in the Paeoniaceae plant family.

These species of peonies fall into a few different categories of varieties based on their growth habits.

Tree Peonies

This type of peony flower produces lovely perennial blossoms and new growth that turns woody at the end of each growing season and remains throughout winter. Tree peonies reach maturity within about 10 growing seasons and can grow to be about 5 feet tall.

  • Growing Zones: 4 to 9
  • Light Preferences: Full sun to partial shade (3 to 4 hours of sunlight daily)
  • Flowering Season: Early spring
  • Growing Difficulty: Easy (slow-growing)

Herbaceous Peonies

Herbaceous peonies produce rounded mounds or clumps of new foliage and growth each spring and summer growing season. This new growth dies back during winter dormancy to be produced again the next spring.

  • Growing Zones: 3 to 7
  • Light Preferences: Full sun (at least 8 hours during the growing season)
  • Flowering Season: Late spring through early summer
  • Growing Difficulty: Easy (slow-growing)

Itoh (Intersectional) Peonies

This variety of peonies gets its name from the Japanese horticulturist Toichi Itoh who first fertilized herbaceous peonies with pollen from tree peonies. These unique, intersectional cultivars are herbaceous but produce leaves that resemble those of tree peonies.

  • Growing Zones: 4 to 9
  • Light Preferences: Full sun to partial shade (about 5 to 6 hours of sunlight daily)
  • Flowering Season: Late spring through early autumn
  • Growing Difficulty: Easy (slow-growing)

Peony Flower Forms

Peony Flower Forms

Although most people associate peonies with full, ruffly, pom-pom-like flower blossoms, some types of peonies produce equally showy flowers with way fewer petals.

The flowers of all peony species and cultivars are generally separated into six different classifications. These peony flower types include:

  1. Single – One or two rows of broad petals encircles a visible center of stamens and carpels on single peony flowers.
  2. Japanese – Like the single peony flower, the Japanese-style peony blossom has only one or two rows of broad petals. However, these flowers produce visible staminodes rather than stamens, and carpels.
  3. Anemone – The anemone peony also has just one or two rows of broad petals. These petals surround large, ornate staminodes that curve upward and resemble an anemone of the sea. These flowers also have visible carpels.
  4. Semi-Double – One or two rows of broad petals circle a center that features even more petals that are intermingled with the flower’s central staminodes.
  5. Bomb – One row of broad petals surrounds a central pom-pom of densely packed narrow petals.
  6. Full Double – This pom-pom-shaped type of peony flower looks the fullest with densely packed broad petals throughout.

Here you’ll find a collection of our absolute favorite types of peony flowers. Perfect for growing at home, in addition to cut peony flowers for bouquets or vase arrangements

1. Bartzella Itoh Peony (Paeonia ‘Bartzella’)

Bartzella Itoh Peony (Paeonia 'Bartzella')

These peonies feature large (6 to 8 inches across) double blossoms in a buttery shade of bright yellow with centers that are stained slightly reddish-orange. These herbaceous perennials emit a prominent sweet and spicy floral fragrance.

2. Karl Rosenfield Peony (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Karl Rosenfield’)

Karl Rosenfield Peony (Paeonia lactiflora 'Karl Rosenfield')

These peonies are a garden favorite and produce truly showstopping, full double, 6-inch flowers in a classic, eye-catching cherry-red color. Karl Rosenfield peony plants blossom in early summer and feature sturdy stalks, making them an excellent choice for cutting gardens. These beauties are long-lasting in bouquets.

3. Buckeye Belle Peony (Paeonia ‘Buckeye Belle’)

Buckeye Belle Peony (Paeonia 'Buckeye Belle')

The buckeye belle peony blooms in spring with semi-double blossoms that bring a demure elegance to the garden with deep, velvety shades of red and burgundy offset by prominent, golden-hued staminodes. This peony has been awarded the American Peony Society Gold Medal, and planting one in your garden will bring award-winning blossoms for 7 to 10 days in late spring.

4. Moon of Nippon (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Moon of Nippon’)

Moon of Nippon (Paeonia lactiflora 'Moon of Nippon')

This late-spring peony emits a lovely fragrance in the garden but is most notable for its unique appearance. The Japanese-style blossoms of the Moon of Nippon peony resemble sunny-side-up eggs with two rows of broad, snowy-white petals encircling a perfect half-sphere of golden-yellow staminodes that closely resemble an egg yolk.

5. Gardenia Peony (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Gardenia’)

Gardenia Peony (Paeonia lactiflora 'Gardenia')

Thanks to its delicate, elegantly blushing blooms, the full double gardenia peony is one of the most popular garden varieties. These flowers start out as light-pink buds and open to reveal a thick pom of broad, ivory petals that are graced with just the slightest rosy dusting around their outer edges.

6. Reine Hortense Peony (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Reine Hortense’)

Reine Hortense Peony (Paeonia lactiflora 'Reine Hortense')

The Reine Hortense variety is another popular garden peony producing full double flowers atop sturdy, red stems. This peony is most beloved for its light, rosy-pink blossoms that feature slightly wavy or frilled petal edges giving its flowers a lively tissue-papery appearance that looks stunning in any garden or bouquet.

7. Raspberry Sundae Peony (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Raspberry Sundae’)

Raspberry Sundae Peony (Paeonia lactiflora 'Raspberry Sundae')

The raspberry sundae peony has a fragrance sweet enough to rival its sugar-coated, ice-cream-treat appearance. This perennial produces bomb-style flowers with wavy petals in variegated shades of creamy white and delicate raspberry pink. This peony variety blooms in mid to late spring with the pink and yellow hues of its petals becoming increasingly prominent as the season grows later.

8. Shirley Temple Peony (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Shirley Temple’)

Shirley Temple Peony (Paeonia lactiflora 'Shirley Temple')

Just like their namesake, Shirley Temple peonies really know how to put on a show. These beauties blossom with large, full double flowers from late spring to early summer for 7 to 10 days. Early on, these ruffled flowers blush with just a hint of delicate pink. As they continue to open, they gradually fade to elegant ivory.

9. Gay Paree Peony (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Gay Paree’)

Gay Paree Peony (Paeonia lactiflora 'Gay Paree')

Most peonies can rightfully be called garden showstoppers, and Gay Paree peonies are no exception. These herbaceous perennials produce anemone-shaped blossoms with a double ring of broad cerise-pink petals surrounding a puffy center of ivory-white petal-like staminodes. In addition to their gorgeous looks, Gay Paree peonies also emit a romantically sweet fragrance.

10. Cardinal Vaughan (Paeonia suffruticosa ‘Cardinal Vaughan’)

Cardinal Vaughan (Paeonia suffruticosa 'Cardinal Vaughan')

The Cardinal Vaughan peony is a tree variety peony that produces semi-double flowers with broad, papery petals ranging from a purplish-magenta hue to a ruby red. The double row of petals forms a bowl shape around a bright-yellow center of stamens.

11. Lemon Chiffon Peony (Paeonia ‘Lemon Chiffon’)

Lemon Chiffon Peony (Paeonia 'Lemon Chiffon')

This variety of peony could not be more aptly named, as you can almost taste the perfectly lemon-yellow color of the lemon chiffon peony’s semi-double blossoms. The flowers feature ruffled rows of lemon-yellow petals that encircle a center of golden stamens and orange filaments. This peony has received the American Peony Society Best in Show award.

12. Charlie’s White (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Charlie’s White’)

Charlie's White (Paeonia lactiflora 'Charlie's White')

Charlie’s white peonies have a shrubby growth habit and produce enormous, snowball-like, white, double blossoms with slightly golden staminodes at their centers. These ruffled white flowers can blossom up to 8 inches in diameter at their largest. Although they sprout atop sturdy stems, the sheer size of these blossoms means they often need to be staked for support.

13. Martha Bulloch (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Martha Bulloch’)

Martha Bulloch (Paeonia lactiflora 'Martha Bulloch')

The Martha Bulloch peony is one of the classic, most loved peony plants available. In late spring through early summer, this herbaceous perennial peony produces abundant, large, rosy pink double blossoms that emit a lovely perfume. These flowers can last more than a week in water when cut while still in bud form.

14. Sarah Bernhardt Peony (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Sarah Bernhardt’)

Sarah Bernhardt Peony (Paeonia lactiflora 'Sarah Bernhardt')

A recipient of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit, the Sarah Bernhardt peony is beloved for its exceptionally large (8 inches across) flowers. These full double blossoms bloom in late spring to early summer in a cheerful, cotton-candy-pink color. The inner petals are ruffled for added fullness, and raspberry-colored flecks occasionally mark the rosy petals.

15. Rubra Plena Peony (Paeonia x festiva ‘Rubra Plena’)

Rubra Plena Peony (Paeonia x festiva 'Rubra Plena')

Thought to have been popularly cultivated in gardens since at least the 17th century, the rubra plena peony is one of the older peony cultivars. The perennial boasts large, full double flower blossoms that open in spring, stained with vibrant shades that range from magenta to deep crimson.

16. Bowl of Beauty (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Bowl of Beauty’)

Bowl of Beauty (Paeonia lactiflora 'Bowl of Beauty')

The single flower type of the bowl of beauty peony has a unique signature appearance with a ring of broad magenta petals cradling a round central pom of vibrant, frilly yellow-colored stamens and carpels. This late to mid-season peony is a recipient of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.

17. Red Charm (Paeonia ‘Red Charm’)

Red Charm (Paeonia 'Red Charm')

A recipient of the American Peony Society Gold Medal, the red charm peony is a hybrid that will add an eye-catching allure to any garden with its floriferous profusion of frilly, blood-red, bomb-shaped flower blossoms. Tolerant of heat and perfect for cut flowers, this perennial blooms in late spring to early summer.

18. Festiva Maxima Peony (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Festiva Maxima’)

Festiva Maxima Peony (Paeonia lactiflora 'Festiva Maxima')

This herbaceous perennial peony produces abundant double blossoms bursting with frilly petals in the late spring and early summer. The flowers are usually pure-white but are occasionally flecked or striped with striking dashes of crimson. A popular addition to gardens for more than 150 years, this lovely peony has received the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.

19. Fairy Princess (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Fairy Princess’)

Fairy Princess (Paeonia lactiflora 'Fairy Princess')

The single-style flower blossoms of the fairy princess peony offer a demure elegance to any garden. A single row of velvety, broad petals flushed with a deep red hue surrounds a golden-yellow center of petite stamens and carpels. This herbaceous perennial blooms in early spring and is one of the smallest peony plants, reaching a comparatively diminutive height of just about 15 inches.

20. Claire de Lune (Paeonia ‘Claire de Lune’)

Claire de Lune (Paeonia 'Claire de Lune')

This hybrid peony is one of the first to bloom in early spring. It has a single-style peony flower form with a row of crinkled, creamy-white petals surrounding a prominently golden, moon-shaped center of fuzzy carpels and stamens.

21. High Noon Peony (Paeonia suffruticosa ‘High Noon’)

High Noon Peony (Paeonia suffruticosa 'High Noon')

The high noon is a tree peony that produces copious semi-double flower blossoms in late spring to early summer. The blossoms are lemon-yellow (to match the slightly lemony fragrance they emit) and stained slightly red at the center. Once mature, this tree peony might occasionally produce a delightful repeat round of blossoms in mid to late summer.

22. Mother’s Choice Peony (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Mother’s Choice’)

Mother’s Choice Peony (Paeonia lactiflora 'Mother's Choice')

This late spring to early summer bloomer is the recipient of the American Peony Society Gold Medal. It produces full double flowers that are predominantly ivory-colored but tinged with a delicately faint rosy blush. Fully open, these blossoms resemble large, lush roses. Borne atop strong, sturdy stems, the mother’s choice peony makes a wonderful addition to any low-maintenance garden.

23. Lady Alexandra Duff Peony (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Lady Alexandra Duff’)

Lady Alexandra Duff Peony (Paeonia lactiflora 'Lady Alexandra Duff')

First introduced in 1902, this heirloom perennial peony is a recipient of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit. Blooming in late spring to early summer, this mid-season peony plant’s large full double flower blossoms start out as deeply roseate buds and open up to reveal blushing, pink flowers replete with ornate, ruffle-edged petals.

24. Joker Peony (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Joker’)

Joker Peony (Paeonia lactiflora 'Joker')

A recent (2021) recipient of the American Peony Society’s Gold Medal Award, the joker peony is a popular herbaceous garden hybrid. Its 6-inch full double flower blossoms open up with thick, vibrant fuchsia-colored petals. The central petals later fade to a lighter shade of pink, giving mature blossoms a strikingly variegated or dip-dyed appearance in the garden. With upright blooms and sturdy stems, joker peonies do not require support or staking.

25. Do Tell Peony (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Do Tell’)

Do Tell Peony (Paeonia lactiflora 'Do Tell')

This award-winning peony has both a Gold Medal and an Award of Landscape Merit. Do Tell peonies produce mildly fragrant, anemone-shaped flowers with a corona of round petals in a delicate shade of whitish, shell-like pink. At the center of the blossoms stand prominent centers of rose and golden-colored staminodes.

26. Bride’s Dream Peony (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Bride’s Dream’)

Bride’s Dream Peony (Paeonia lactiflora 'Bride's Dream')

The bride’s dream peony produces elegant Japanese-style flower blossoms. Each flower features a ring of large snowy-white petals surrounding a prominent center pom-pom of creamy-white, feathery petaloids. These peonies bloom in abundance with many side buds, making them a striking addition to your late-spring garden.

27. Chocolate Soldier Peony (Paeonia ‘Chocolate Soldier’)

Chocolate Soldier Peony (Paeonia 'Chocolate Soldier')

One of the darkest-colored peony hybrids you can find, the chocolate soldier produces flowers with velvety petals in a luscious shade of deep, chocolatey red. Aside from the unique color of its flowers, the chocolate soldier peony also stands apart from other peonies because a single plant can produce a range of flower shapes including both Japanese blossoms with golden-yellow staminodes and full double blossoms with a complete pom of cocoa-colored petals.

28. Henry Bockstoce Peony (Paeonia ‘Henry Bockstoce’)

Henry Bockstoce Peony (Paeonia 'Henry Bockstoce')

This is one of the most popular red-colored peonies around. The Henry Bockstoce peony is a garden hybrid that produces enormous (up to 8 inches across) full double flower blossoms in a striking, cherry-red hue. These flowers also emit a strong, sweet fragrance that is wonderful to enjoy outdoors or in a bouquet. Plus, the flowery scent attracts butterflies, making them a great addition to your pollinator-friendly garden.

29. Coral Sunset Peony (Paeonia ‘Coral Sunset’)

Coral Sunset Peony (Paeonia 'Coral Sunset')

Recipients of the American Peony Society Gold Medal, these stunning peonies bring a touch of a tropical sunset right to your garden. They produce large, coral-colored, semi-double flower blossoms in early spring with sunset-colored bowl-shaped petals that fade from a deep rose to salmon-pink to almost ivory at the tip. At the center, you’ll find a prominent pom-pom of golden-yellow staminodes.

30. First Arrival Peony (Paeonia ‘First Arrival’)

First Arrival Peony (Paeonia 'First Arrival')

A gardener’s favorite among the Itoh peony varieties, the first arrival peony produces impressive 8-inch semi-double flower blossoms in fun shades that range from lavender to light pink with deep purplish magenta streaks flaring outward from the central pom of purple and yellow-colored stamens. As the blossoms mature, the colors fade gently through the blooming season while emitting a delicious rose-like scent.

31. Prairie Charm Peony (Paeonia ‘Prairie Charm’)

Prairie Charm Peony (Paeonia 'Prairie Charm')

The prairie charm peony is an award-winning peony of the intersectional Itoh variety. It has received both an Award of Landscape Merit and has also been named the American Grand Champion of the National Exhibitions. The prairie charm peony produces mid-sized, semi-double peony blossoms with about 20 to 30 tooth-edged, buttery-yellow petals. The bases of the inner petals have reddish-orange flares, lending these blossoms a warmth to rival that of the late spring season when they bloom.

32. Pink Hawaiian Coral Peony (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Pink Hawaiian Coral’)

Pink Hawaiian Coral Peony (Paeonia lactiflora 'Pink Hawaiian Coral')

This fragrant peony cultivar produces stunning full double blossoms in an orangey-pink shade of coral that gently fades from the vibrance of its first blossom to a delicate shade of apricot throughout the blooming period, giving it a lovely washed or variegated appearance. The pink Hawaiian coral peony is the recipient of both a Landscape Merit Award and an American Peony Society Gold Medal.

33. Cora Louise Peony (Paeonia ‘Cora Louise’)

Cora Louise Peony (Paeonia ‘Cora Louise’)

This Itoh peony produces impressively large blossoms at 8 to 10 inches in diameter. These semi-double flower blossoms feature exquisite ivory petals marked at their bases with brushstrokes of a deep lavender-to-purple hue. You’ll find a cluster of golden stamens and likely a butterfly or two at their center, as these peonies are attractive to pollinators.

34. Barrington Belle Peony (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Barrington Belle’)

Barrington Belle Peony (Paeonia lactiflora 'Barrington Belle')

Barrington belle peonies produce eye-catching semi-double flower blossoms atop sturdy stems. The flowers feature two rows of broad, satiny, slightly ruffled petals in exotic shades of magenta and fuchsia. A prominent cluster of bright-red staminodes with ruffled golden tips make an attractive centerpiece for each of these flowers.

35. Athena Peony (Paeonia ‘Athena’)

Athena Peony (Paeonia 'Athena')

The Athena peony is actually a quadruple hybrid of four different peonies. It is one of the first peonies to blossom in spring, revealing its highly unusual yet strikingly beautiful, bowl-shaped single blossoms. Each flower has a single ring of round, creamy-white petals marked with a central flare of lavender-pink. Inside the bowl of petals, rests a prominent central cluster of gold-yellow staminodes and red-tipped carpels.

36. Kansas Peony (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Kansas’)

Kansas Peony (Paeonia lactiflora 'Kansas')

A recipient of the American Peony Society Gold Medal, the Kansas peony boasts large, rose-shaped double blossoms. With petals in a striking shade that ranges from magenta to cherry-red, resembling the juicy insides of a ripe watermelon, this peony is most notable for its intense coloring that does not fade in the sun.

37. Miss America Peony (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Miss America’)

Miss America Peony (Paeonia lactiflora 'Miss America')

A recipient of both the American Peony Society Gold Medal and the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit, the Miss America peony puts on quite the show throughout its flowering season in late spring to early summer. The closed buds of this plant’s semi-double blossoms start out a delicate shade of blushing pink and gradually fade, as they open, to a pristine, snowy-white with modest central pom-poms of golden staminodes.

38. White Cap Peony (Paeonia ‘White Cap’)

White Cap Peony (Paeonia 'White Cap')

The buds of the white cap peony are pretty small and dark, blending in with their surrounding foliage. However, when one of these non-descript buds opens, it reveals a true firework of a Japanese-style peony flower blossom. White cap peony flowers have a ruffled, magenta frill of broad outer petals surrounding a prominent feathery pom-pom of inner filaments in a delicate shade of creamy white to blush flecked with raspberry streaks throughout.

39. Doreen Peony (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Doreen’)

Doreen Peony (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Doreen’)

The equally robust and lovely Doreen peony makes a perfect addition to any peony garden. It produces Japanese-style flowers with a double row of rounded guard petals in a vibrant shade of magenta. These eye-catching petals surround a prominent fluffy central pom of pink staminodes with yellow, ruffled edges.

40. Krinkled White Peony (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Krinkled White’)

Krinkled White Peony (Paeonia lactiflora 'Krinkled White')

A recipient of the American Peony Society Award of Landscape Merit, the krinkled white peony is considered to be the favorite amount single style, white peony blossoms. These feature a ring of slightly crinkled petals surrounding a petite central tuft of golden-colored stamens. This peony plant produces copious buds, and their slightly fragrant flowers bloom in profusion, putting on a show in late spring to early summer.

41. Chojuraku Peony (Paeonia suffruticosa ‘Chojuraku’)

Chojuraku Peony (Paeonia suffruticosa 'Chojuraku')

This stunning tree peony produces striking double blossoms in an eye-catching shade of lavender with dark, almost-black purple flares toward the bases of the inner petals. These cool-colored petals surround a warm center of golden stamens. Highly fragrant, the chojuraku (joy of longevity) peony reaches about 3 to 5 feet in height and will draw butterflies to your garden.

42. Pastel Splendor Peony (Paeonia ‘Pastel Splendor’)

Pastel Splendor Peony (Paeonia 'Pastel Splendor')

Pastel splendor is a favorite Itoh variety peony that produces single style, upright flower blossoms that feature a ruffled circlet of petals that fade from vibrant lavender at the tip to a creamy white at the base. Each petal is marked with a flare of deep red at the base. These petals surround a close, button-like cluster of yellow stamens.

43. Jean Erickson Peony (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Jean Erickson’)

Jean Erickson Peony (Paeonia lactiflora 'Jean Erickson')

The Jean Erickson peony produces copious Japanese-style blossoms with numerous buds in late spring to early summer. These blossoms open up in a striking shade of crimson red with broad, rounded guard petals surrounding a central tuft of staminodes in the same blood-red shade. The staminodes’ tips fade from red to silver as the season progresses.

Wrapping Up

With so many beautiful types of peony flowers to choose from, there’s an excellent choice for the home gardener as well as for budding floral designers. Enjoy!


Author

I’ve long been fascinated with the world of flowers, plants, and floral design. I come from a family of horticulturists and growers and spent much of my childhood in amongst the fields of flowering blooms and greenhouses filled with tropical plants, cacti, and succulents from all over the world. Today, my passion has led me to further explore the world of horticulture, botany, and floristry and I'm always excited to meet and collaborate with fellow enthusiasts and professionals from across the globe. I hold a BSc degree in Plant Sciences and have trained professionally at leading floristry schools in London and Paris.

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