Grow a Fernleaf Peony for Fancy Flowers and Foliage

Updated: Mar. 08, 2023

Discover what makes fernleaf peony leaves and flowers special! Plus, learn about an ideal fernleaf peony hybrid to add to your backyard.

Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.

What Makes Fernleaf Peonies Unique?

fernleaf peonyapugach/Getty Images
Fernleaf peonies bloom in May

Fernleaf peony (Paeonia tenuifolia) leaves offer a distinctive and spiffy twist on an old-fashioned garden favorite. The plant’s leafy, thin foliage mimics that of a fern, making them a standout even among the most gorgeous peonies. They’re often referred to as “Mother’s Day” peonies because of their early bloom time, and they keep their flowers for about a week. When the blooms are spent, it’s a good idea to trim them back.

fernleaf peonyCourtesy Meagyn Scovel
A fernleaf peony just days away from opening up.

Find out when you should plant peonies during the year for those delightful spring and summer blooms.

Ants crawling on Peony budeyfoto/Getty Images

Do Peonies Need Ants to Bloom?

Early Scout Fernleaf Peony Hybrid: Growing Tips

Early Scout Fernleaf PeonyDoreen Wynja/Monrovia
Early Scout has large, vibrant flowers and fernlike leaves

Common Name: Early Scout Fernleaf Peony
Scientific Name: Paeonia hybrid ‘Early Scout’
Zones: 3 to 8
Size: 2 feet tall and wide
Soil: Moist
Light Needs: Full sun to part shade
Attracts: Butterflies

“Early scout” fernleaf is a popular, award-winning peony hybrid (Paeonia ‘Richard Carvel’ x single tenuifolia). It grows best in moist, well-draining soil and tolerates a variety of light conditions, including full sun, part sun, and part shade. Just after planting, it’s best to give your new peony plenty of water to help it get established—later on, it won’t require too much watering. Gardeners should remove spent blooms and then cut back the foliage in the fall.

Learn how to treat botrytis blight disease on peonies.

Benefits of Planting Early Scout

What’s in a name? In this case, it’s the perks of growing an Early Scout fernleaf peony. The biggest benefit for the winter-weary resides in that first word: early. This peony is one of the earliest hybrid peonies to bloom during the growing season, bearing its crimson colored flowers in late spring or early summer. Its leaves boast an eye-catching fern shape, and the flowers make it a great addition to a cutting garden.

Plus, the plant is deer-resistant, and the flowers will attract plenty of pollinators.

Next, check out 10 peony arrangements and gifts to send this spring.