10 Little-Known Peony Plant Facts

Timeless and lovely, a peony plant is beloved for a reason. Discover what makes peonies such popular flowers for gardeners.

Peonies Grow in Alaska

236210 PeonydotellpinkBailey Nurseries
Do Tell Peony

Alaskan farmers harvest about 300,000 peonies a year. Why the demand? The growing season ends in the Lower 48 by late June, but peony plants thrive in July and August in Alaska.

Plant peonies in your flower garden in fall.

Peonies Love Cold Weather

Herbaceous peonies do best in Hardiness Zones 3 to 8 because the winters are cold enough that they encourage buds to form. For peony plants to truly thrive, most varieties require an average winter temperature of 40 degrees. And they are hardy down to minus 50 degrees. Tree peonies are not as hardy.

Learn how plant zones work and how to find yours.

Peonies Have Multiple Flower Forms

Per the American Peony Society, this garden favorite is available in six flower forms: single, double, semi-double, anemone, bomb and Japanese.

Check out the top 10 old-fashioned flowers for your garden.

Not All Peonies are Fragrant

Fragrance varies from one variety of peony to the next. When selecting peonies, look for varieties that are advertised as fragrant. The red-flecked white flowers of the Festiva Maxima are considered one of the most aromatic. Red Magic has a spicy fragrance. The double-pink blossoms of Eden’s Perfume also have an intense scent.

Try these fragrant roses to perfume your garden.

These Blooms Have Ancient History

Wild Peony plantMimi Ditchie Photography/Getty Images
Wild peony

Peonies have been the “king of flowers” in China since the Tang Dynasty (A.D. 618-907—about 1,400 years ago!) They were grown at the imperial court for their dramatic blooms.

Peonies Make Great Cut Flowers

Snip peonies for your favorite vase when buds are stale-marshmallow soft. A cut peony can last up to seven days.

Grow these pretty flowers for a cutting garden.

Look for Native Peony Plant Varieties

North America is home to two native peony plant species: Brown’s peony (Paeonia brownii) and California peony (P. californica). Both of these are found along the West Coast.

Check out the top 10 easy-to-grow native plants.

Gardeners Can Grow Dozens of Peony Plant Species

Peony 'lotus Queen'TonyBaggett/Getty Images
Lotus Queen Peony

There are 33 recognized species of peonies and 15 additional subspecies.

Did you know—peonies are deer resistant plants!

You Can Visit a Peony Garden

The University of Michigan’s Nichols Arboretum Peony Garden showcases more than 270 historic cultivars. Admission is free, so plan a peony visit during spring. The arboretum also offers other gardens and is open seven days a week, so stop in during any season.

The Peony Is a State Flower

Indiana made the peony plant its official flower in 1957, awarding it the title the zinnia had held since 1931. Discover the national flower, bird, and tree of the U.S.

To learn more about these flowers, check out Peony: The Best Varieties for Your Garden by David C. Michener and Carol A. Adelman, available where books are sold.

Kaitlin Stainbrook
Kaitlin Stainbrook has been writing about birding and gardening for nearly a decade. As the associate editor of Birds & Blooms magazine, she wrote and edited articles across a wide range of topics from houseplants to hummingbirds. She's worked closely with top birding and gardening experts and continues to learn everything she can about the natural world around us.