Flower Garden: Little Known Facts About Peonies

How much do you know about peonies? Learn some little-known facts behind these beautiful, fragrant, old-fashioned plants and why they are perfect for your flower garden.

Deep Pink Peonies

Do you like peonies?  Maybe you have peonies growing in your garden.  If so, consider yourself lucky to be able to grow these beautiful and fragrant flowering perennials.

Peony Photography

I recently returned from a trip through the upper Midwest where peonies in every color, shape and size were in full bloom and on display.  I took a lot of photos of the beautiful flowers.

Whether you have peonies growing your garden or not, how much do you know about peonies?  Most gardeners know that they are easy to grow and that they produce beautiful flowers in late spring / early summer and then die back to the ground in winter.  But, there are a few facts about peonies that you may not know.

Large Pink Peony

- Peonies are available in every color but blue.

- The flowers can reach up to 10 inches in size depending on the variety.

- Pink flowers are more fragrant then maroon flowers.

- Native to Europe and Asia, peonies were brought over to England by the Romans in the year 1200.

Peony

- In ancient times, peonies were used for medicinal purposes including curing headaches, relieving pain during childbirth and the treatment of asthma.

- Long ago, people believed that peonies protected them from demons.

- During the Victorian era, peonies were very popular and could be seen growing in gardens throughout England.

- The early explorer Marco Polo is said to have called peonies “roses as big as cabbages”.

- Today, peonies can still be found growing in the wild in certain areas of Europe.

Peony Bouquet

- Peonies are a very popular choice for bridal bouquets.  To create your own bouquet, cut peony flowers in the early morning and put in a vase of cold water where they will last up to 5 days.

- They are the floral symbol of China. Paintings of peonies are often seen hung on the wall in order to bring good luck.

- The state flower of Indiana is the peony.

- Peonies are traditionally used for celebrating the 12th wedding anniversary.

pink peonies

- Peonies like cold winters and do best in zones 3 – 8.  Herbaceous peonies need at least 400 hours of temperatures below 40 degrees while tree peonies need 100 – 300 hours in order to flower in late spring / early summer.  In warm climates, peonies often fail to bloom.

- Ants play an important role in the blooming of peony flowers.  The flower buds produce a nectar that attracts ants, which climb up and help to open the buds in order to get to the nectar contained within.  Although peonies will bloom without ants, the ants do help with the process.  Another benefit that ants offer peonies is that they help to keep damaging insects away.

- Peonies are easy to grow, making them the perfect plant for your flower garden whether you are a beginner gardener or an experienced one.

Do you grow peonies?  What color is your favorite?

For more information on peonies including how to grow them, we have some great information in the article “Growing Tips for Peonies”.

  1. babybusterbabybuster says

    My mom had peonies, they were pink. I asked her one time why they weren’t closer to the house and she said that they attracted ants. when she cut them to bring into the house she always washed thee ants off outside before bring them in.

  2. Pip says

    I have peonies that my mother-in-law planted when this house was built 30 some years ago. They blossom every year. Some are white others are pink & my favorite are the deep red or maroon ones. I always wondered about the ants.

  3. RAR says

    Our peonies bloomed so beautifully this year, and now I understand why. A benefit from our record-breaking cold and snowy winter. :-)

    • Brenda K. says

      I have peonies that are over 20 years old and I have successfully transplanted many of them more than once, when we added our sunroom and again when the trees we planted grew and shaded the area too much for the peonies, which are more sun-loving. Since they bloom in spring, it is best to transplant them in the fall – mid to late September. Cut the plants back to just above ground level and dig out the tubers carefully; replant in a sunny location so that the just above ground level stems are still at the same level. Be very careful not to damage the “eyes” on the tubers, as those will be next year’s stems and flowers. Good luck!

  4. Lori Arnold-Mann says

    I have Peonies that were planted by my Mom in 1960. I also have the Tree Peonies that I planted. They are native to China and Japan. I have 5 of the tree peonies and love them. They are easy to grow as well.

  5. Julie says

    I fell in love with peonies growing up. My grandmother had them in her garden. I now live in her house and enjoy seeing them every year. Unfortunately this year, just as the were ready to bloom , we had a hail storm and it destroyed all of them. I’m hoping they will be ok for next year!

  6. Jolyne Dunn says

    Mine bloom mid May. It never fails, the flowers open then we get a monsoon rain and it beats them to death! This happens every year. I remember when I was young, we cut the peonies and took them to the cemetery for Memorial Day.

  7. Marybeth P. says

    I have many colors of peonies in my yard, from a single lavender stripe I found in a cow pasture to the lovely dark red given to me by my father years ago which was his favorite. I have white, pink, magenta and maroon as well. I love them and they are a part of a family tradition started generations ago.

  8. Delores Bender says

    I have about 20 peonies of different colors. I bought a yellow tree but it never took. I love the white with the pink or red center. Love them all.

  9. Robin says

    I just got my first peony and I’m so excited to see what color it is. I hope it is the bright pink as it is my favorite. I got it from my oldest daughters boyfriends grandmother which has passed on and she has many many peonies. I will be getting another one as this is one of my favorite flowers. These peonies are real old as their family used to have a restaurant and she was the one that provided all the flowers that were on the tables at this now closed establishment. It is a pleasure to know that I now own now of those plants that provided those flowers for all those years.

  10. krystyna says

    I HAVE 5 OF THEM AND ONE IS WHITE AND SMELLS LIKE PERFUME,BEAUTIFUL,I WISH THEY WOULD BLOOM ALL SUMMER

    • Brenda K. says

      Yes – cut the dead flower stems back to a leaf pair, approximately even with the rest of the plant for an attractive planting throughout the summer. Then in late September, cut the leaf stems down to just above ground level for the winter.

  11. Joe V. says

    It took years but finally have two kinds of peonies established and blooming. However these past two years a strange white fungus has attacked the leaves early on. Any suggestions how to control this?

    • Lisa says

      All purpose insect and fungus treatment for any plant/ flower/ vegetable. EXCEPT FUZZY- LEAVED.
      1 tablespoon cooking oil (scant)
      1 tablespoon baking soda (scant
      1 tablespoon liquid soap (scant)
      1 tablespoon vinegar (scant)
      Scant just means a little less
      Mix all into 1 gallon of water
      Use gentle liquid soap not Dawn
      Put in a spray bottle and go at it! Make sure to get the undersides of the leaves and Never use on fuzzy leaves – the oil will smother the plant!
      The fatty acids in the soap attack the insects exoskeleton, the baking soda and vinegar change the PH of plants microclimate so that fungus can not grow, and the oil makes it stick! Happy Gardening!

      • says

        Googled it. Here is what one site said to use: You can also use a homemade solution—mixing together a tablespoon each of baking soda, horticultural oil (or canola), and liquid dish soap (without bleach) with a gallon of water. Spray on your peonies every 10-14 days throughout the summer months. Do not spray the solution during hot and sunny days and always test on a small part of the plant before using it on the whole plant.

  12. Stella Pridon says

    One of my favorite flowers and I do grow them. Interesting article! Did not know that ants were helpful! Thanks for all the info!

  13. Mike says

    I have a couple Peony plants in my yard that I need to move (container is deteriorating). Any advice on the best time and way to move them?

    • Brenda K. says

      I have peonies that are over 20 years old and I have successfully transplanted many of them more than once, when we added our sunroom and again when the trees we planted grew and shaded the area too much for the peonies, which are more sun-loving. Since they bloom in spring, it is best to transplant them in the fall – mid to late September. Cut the plants back to just above ground level and dig out the tubers carefully; replant in a sunny location so that the just above ground level stems are still at the same level. Be very careful not to damage the “eyes” on the tubers, as those will be next year’s stems and flowers. Good luck!

Add a Comment

From Our Community

Got a Question – Hopscotch

Trying to post my seed list, but it won't post.  Is it because it is too long?  How long can a post be.  Nothing told me to stop…
Read more >

Since Hubby's Heart Attack last November

And when he went back to work I've been packing his lunch.  I KNOW if I don't he would eat crappy stuff from machines or nothing at all.…
Read more >