The Peony Tree – A Unique Twist on a Gardening Classic

Are you a gardening enthusiast looking to add unusual beauty to your garden? Consider the peony tree, a hardy woody shrub native to Asia renowned for its fragrant and grand blooms.

This blog will guide you through everything from growing tips, pruning advice, managing pests and diseases, all aimed at nurturing this unique plant species successfully in your own back yard.

Get ready for an exciting twist on this classic spring bloomer!

Key Takeaways

  • Tree peonies are a unique and ornamental woody shrub native to Asia, known for their grand and fragrant blooms.
  • There are numerous varieties and cultivars of tree peonies available with different colors and characteristics, allowing for personalization in the garden.
  • To successfully grow tree peonies, choose a suitable location with well – draining soil, provide regular watering, prune after flowering, and monitor for pests and diseases.
  • Pruning and maintenance practices include removing dead or damaged branches, improving air circulation, mulching around the base of the plant, providing proper watering and fertilization, as well as monitoring for pests and diseases.

What Are Tree Peonies?

Tree peonies, belonging to the genus Paeonia, are woody perennial shrubs cultivated for their unique and ornamental flowers.

Cultivation and History

Peonies are perennial favorites in the world of gardening, and rightly so. With their origin dating back to ancient China some 4,000 years ago, these spectacular plants have woven themselves into cultures across continents.

They were prized not only for their aesthetic appeal but also for their supposed medicinal qualities. Over centuries, horticulture enthusiasts fostered peony cultivation briskly worldwide; a trend that continues even today.

Tree peonies differ from herbaceous types and usually exhibit larger flowers blooming early spring before other varieties. Adapting perfectly to various climates – be it frigid winters or scorching summers – tree peonies are noted as resilient beauties that add grandeur to any garden setting both in height – often reaching up to 5 feet- and vivid color variances ranging from green foliage to blossoms of pink and yellow hues.

Different Varieties and Cultivars

There are numerous varieties and cultivars of tree peonies to choose from, each with its own unique characteristics and beauty:

  1. ‘High Noon’: This stunning variety features large, fully double yellow flowers that make a bold statement in the garden.
  2. ‘Pink Hawaiian Coral’: With its vibrant coral-pink blooms, this cultivar adds a splash of color to any landscape.
  3. ‘Hanakisoi’: Known for its delicate fragrance, this tree peony produces exquisite pink flowers with white highlights.
  4. ‘Black Sea’: For those seeking a touch of drama, the deep red-black flowers of this cultivar are sure to impress.
  5. ‘Renkaku’: Boasting large, ruffled white blooms with crimson streaks, this variety is a showstopper in any garden.
  6. ‘Lan Hong’: With its pale pink petals and golden center, this Chinese tree peony brings an air of elegance to the landscape.
  7. ‘Shimane Chōjūrō’: This Japanese variety is famous for its semi-double white flowers with striking purple-red flares at the base.
  8. ‘Age of Gold’: As the name suggests, this cultivar showcases stunning golden-yellow blooms that add warmth to any garden.
  9. ‘Black Beauty’: With velvety maroon-purple petals and a contrasting golden center, this cultivar is truly a sight to behold.
  10. ‘Bowl of Beauty’: This popular variety features large cup-shaped blossoms in shades of pink and cream, creating a beautiful contrast.

How to Grow Tree Peonies

To grow tree peonies, there are a few key steps to follow: choose the right location with well-draining soil and full sun or light shade, propagate by division or grafting, plant in early spring or fall at the proper depth, provide regular watering during dry periods, prune after flowering to maintain shape and remove dead wood, and monitor for pests and diseases.

Propagation Methods

Tree peonies can be propagated through several methods, including:

  • Division: Divide mature plants in early spring or fall by carefully cutting the root ball into sections, making sure each section has at least three to five strong buds. Replant the divisions immediately.
  • Grafting: Grafting is a common method used to propagate tree peonies. It involves joining a bud or scion from a desired cultivar onto the rootstock of another plant. Grafting is usually done in early spring when the plants are dormant.
  • Root cuttings: Take root cuttings from established plants during dormancy. Cut 2-3 inch long sections of thick roots and plant them horizontally in potting soil. Keep them moist until new shoots emerge.
  • Tissue culture: This method involves taking small pieces of tissue from a parent plant and growing them in a sterile culture medium under controlled conditions. Tissue culture propagation allows for large-scale production of genetically identical plants.

Growing Tips

To ensure successful growth and beautiful blooms, follow these tips when growing tree peonies:

  1. Choose a suitable location: Plant tree peonies in a spot that receives full sun to partial shade. They prefer well-draining soil with a pH level of 6.5-7.5.
  2. Prepare the soil: Before planting, incorporate organic matter such as compost or aged manure into the soil to improve its fertility and drainage.
  3. Planting depth: Dig a hole that is wide and deep enough to accommodate the roots of the peony plant. Make sure that the graft union (if present) is planted just below ground level.
  4. Watering: During the first year of growth, water regularly to keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Afterward, provide supplemental watering during dry periods.
  5. Mulching: Apply a layer of organic mulch around the base of the plant to conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and protect the roots from extreme temperatures.
  6. Fertilizing: Feed tree peonies with a balanced slow-release fertilizer in early spring before new growth appears. Avoid excessive fertilization as it can lead to weak stems and fewer blooms.
  7. Support system: Install stakes or cages around young plants to support their large flowers and prevent them from flopping over.
  8. Pruning: Prune tree peonies sparingly, focusing on removing dead or damaged branches and shaping the plant if necessary. Avoid heavy pruning as it can inhibit flowering.
  9. Pest control: Monitor for common pests such as aphids or spider mites and control them using organic insecticides if necessary.
  10. Overwintering: Provide winter protection by applying a layer of mulch around the base of the plant once temperatures drop in late fall or early winter.

Pruning and Maintenance

To keep your tree peonies healthy and looking their best, regular pruning and maintenance is essential. Here are some important tips to remember:

  1. Remove any dead or damaged branches by cutting them back to the base of the plant.
  2. Prune your tree peonies in late winter or early spring before new growth begins.
  3. Cut back any crowded or crossing branches to improve air circulation and reduce the risk of disease.
  4. Remove any suckers that may appear at the base of the plant, as these can divert energy away from the main plant.
  5. Mulch around the base of your tree peonies with organic matter, such as compost or shredded leaves, to help conserve moisture and suppress weeds.
  6. Water your tree peonies regularly during dry spells, ensuring that they receive about 1 inch of water per week.
  7. Apply a slow – release fertilizer in early spring to promote healthy growth and abundant blooms.
  8. Keep an eye out for common pests such as aphids or scale insects, and take appropriate measures to control them if necessary.
  9. Monitor for signs of diseases like botrytis blight or powdery mildew, and promptly treat affected plants with appropriate fungicides if needed.

Managing Pests and Diseases

One challenge in growing tree peonies is managing pests and diseases. Here are some tips to keep your peonies healthy and pest-free:

  • Aphids can be a problem for tree peonies. To control them, you can spray the plant with a strong stream of water or use insecticidal soap.
  • Botrytis blight is a common fungal disease that affects peony plants. To prevent it, make sure you provide good air circulation by spacing out your plants and removing any dead or decaying foliage.
  • Powdery mildew can also be an issue for tree peonies. To treat it, you can use fungicides specifically formulated for powdery mildew or try homemade remedies like baking soda mixed with water.
  • Spider mites may infest your tree peonies, causing yellowing leaves and webbing. To eradicate them, try spraying the leaves with a mixture of neem oil and water.
  • Ants are often attracted to the nectar produced by peony buds. While they don’t cause direct harm to the plant, their presence can attract aphids. To deter ants, create a barrier around the base of the plant using diatomaceous earth or petroleum jelly.

Benefits of Growing Tree Peonies

Tree peonies offer beautiful spring blooms and unique, eye-catching specimens that are long-lasting and hardy. Discover the many benefits of growing these stunning plants in your garden!

Beautiful Spring Blooms

Tree peonies are renowned for their beautiful spring blooms, which are truly a sight to behold. These stunning flowers come in a wide range of colors, including shades of green, pink, and yellow, adding vibrancy and charm to any garden.

The large size of the flowers makes them particularly eye-catching and captivating. Unlike herbaceous peonies that bloom earlier in the season, tree peonies flower later, extending the peony season and providing a unique twist to your garden.

With their long-lasting blooms and striking appearance, tree peonies are sure to be a favorite among horticulture enthusiasts and lovers of botanical beauty alike.

Unique and Eye-catching Specimens

Tree peonies are known for their unique and eye-catching specimens that can instantly add a touch of elegance to any garden. These woody shrubs produce larger flowers compared to herbaceous peonies, making them stand out in a crowd.

With their stunning range of colors, from delicate pinks to vibrant yellows, tree peonies are sure to capture the attention of horticulture enthusiasts and casual garden visitors alike.

Their blooms not only provide botanical beauty but also last longer than other peony varieties, ensuring that your garden will be filled with their splendor for weeks on end. Whether planted as focal points or used in combination with other plants, tree peonies offer a unique twist on the classic flower gardening experience.

Long-lasting and Hardy Plants

Tree peonies are not only prized for their stunning blooms, but also for their durability and longevity. These hardy plants can thrive in various growing conditions and are known to be long-lasting additions to any garden.

Unlike herbaceous peonies that die back to the ground each year, tree peonies have woody stems that provide structure and green foliage even when they’re not blooming. With proper care and maintenance, these unique specimens can grace your garden with their beauty for many years to come.

Selecting the Right Tree Peony for Your Garden

When selecting the right tree peony for your garden, refer to a quick reference guide and consider recommended cultivars based on your preferences and growing conditions.

Quick Reference Guide

To help you select the perfect tree peony for your garden, consider this quick reference guide:

TypeHeightFlowering SeasonColor VarietiesHardiness Zone
Tree Peony4-5 feetEarly SpringWide RangeZone 4

This guide provides an overview of the basic characteristics of tree peonies. Tree peonies reach a height of around 4-5 feet, a detail that’s necessary for garden planning. They flower in early spring, after woodland peonies and before herbaceous peonies. Their flowers are larger than those of herbaceous peonies and come in a wide variety of colors. Lastly, tree peonies are ideal for Zone 4 gardens. Be sure to consider these factors when choosing the right tree peony for your garden.

Recommended Cultivars

  • Coral Charm: This cultivar features large, semi-double, coral-pink flowers that fade to a soft peach color. It adds a vibrant burst of color to any garden.
  • High Noon: Known for its stunning yellow flowers, this cultivar is a showstopper in the garden. The blooms are large and fragrant, making it a favorite among peony enthusiasts.
  • Black Dragon: With deep maroon-red blooms, this cultivar adds drama and depth to any garden. Its dark flowers are complemented by its lush green foliage.
  • Lemon Chiffon: This cultivar boasts delicate lemon-yellow flowers with ruffled petals. Its unique color makes it a standout in the garden.
  • Pink Hawaiian Coral: As its name suggests, this cultivar features beautiful pink and coral-colored flowers. It has an elegant and exotic appearance that is sure to catch the eye.
  • Renkaku (Coral Flower): This Japanese cultivar has striking crimson-red flowers with white centers. It has a graceful growth habit and is highly sought after by collectors.
  • Luoyang Hong (Red Luoyang): This Chinese variety features large, deep red flowers that bloom from late spring to early summer. It is known for its intense color and strong fragrance.
  • Hanakisoi (Peach Blossom): This cultivar produces double pink flowers that resemble delicate peach blossoms. It has a romantic and feminine appearance that is perfect for gardens.
  • Banquet: With its large, deep purple flowers, this cultivar adds richness and elegance to the garden. Its dark blooms contrast beautifully with its glossy green foliage.

Remember to choose the right tree peony based on your location’s climate and growing conditions, as well as your personal preferences for flower color and form.


In conclusion, the peony tree offers a unique and captivating twist on the classic gardening favorite. With their stunning blooms, hardy nature, and easy maintenance, they are sure to be a standout in any garden.

Whether you’re a seasoned horticulture enthusiast or just starting out with ornamental plants, adding tree peonies to your landscape is a fantastic choice that will bring beauty and joy for years to come.


1. What is a peony tree?

A peony tree is a unique variety of peony that has been trained to grow as a small tree or shrub, rather than the traditional bush-like form. It features a sturdy trunk and branches, with large blooms perched on top.

2. How do you care for a peony tree?

Caring for a peony tree involves providing it with well-drained soil, ample sunlight, and regular watering. Pruning should be done in early spring to remove dead or damaged branches and promote new growth. Additionally, supporting the heavy blooms may be necessary using stakes or cages.

3. Can I plant a peony tree in any climate?

Peony trees thrive in temperate climates with cold winters and warm summers. They require a period of dormancy during winter to produce abundant blooms in the following spring. In regions without sufficient chill hours, such as tropical or subtropical climates, growing peonies can be challenging.

4. How long does it take for a peony tree to bloom?

The time it takes for a peony tree to bloom depends on several factors including its age at planting and the specific variety chosen. Generally, newly planted trees may take 2-4 years before producing their first flowers, while established trees can bloom reliably each year thereafter.