Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Chinese Peony, Garden Peony
Paeonia lactiflora

Family: Paeoniaceae
Genus: Paeonia (pay-OHN-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: lactiflora (lak-tee-FLOR-uh) (Info)

Synonym:Paeonia sinensis

» View all varieties of Peonies

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19 members have or want this plant for trade.

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36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

USDA Zone 2a: to -45.5 C (-50 F)
USDA Zone 2b: to -42.7 C (-45 F)
USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)
USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)
USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
Pale Yellow
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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There are a total of 28 photos.
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6 positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive mawmah On Mar 24, 2011, mawmah from Fayetteville, AR wrote:

I don't know for sure what type my peony is. I got the start for my white with barey pink in the center from my grandma in the early 1970s. I have given away starts to family & friends since. My grandma passed away in 1976 & all her plants & flowers are gone, except the ones that I have or have given away. I have moved mine from down home to here, divided & given away starts here. I have my main one that blooms every year. It lives on its own. I neither water or feed it yet it always is full of blooms every year. I have other peonies that I have bought. But that is my favorite one. My grandma always said it had to be planted shallow so that it could freeze or it wouldn't bloom. Whether that is true I don't know except that if you get it too deep or dirt washes over it you will get foliage but no flowers. I would recomend Peonies to anyone. They are so easy to grow & care for.

Positive hollysmac On Apr 12, 2010, hollysmac from Amherst (Snyder), NY (Zone 6a) wrote:

I have some deep pink and some white peonys that I got with our first house in Austin Tx. 1970. I moved them to Palo Alto Calif in 1972 and to Buffalo NY in 1977. Some of them are in Florence Vt at my daughters house since 2008. I am retiring in 2 years and plan to move them to Greensboro NC where my son lives. I hope they stay in the family for many more years.

There weren't suposed to grow in Austin but I forced them into dormancy.

Positive Gabrielle On Jun 6, 2006, Gabrielle from (Zone 5a) wrote:

Big, beautiful, fragrant flowers. What more is there to say? It is easier to control their tendencey to flop if they are staked early in the season. If they are planted too deeply, they will not bloom. For this reason, do not mulch heavily.

Positive Snyders_Nursery On Mar 17, 2004, Snyders_Nursery from Williamsport, PA wrote:

I passed the flowerbed along my apartment, I noticed my Great-Grandmother's Garden Peonies. In a cluster among last year's stems there were deep red buds. There it was, my first sign of spring.
In spring striking red stalks will emerge from these buds followed by glossy green leaves. This new growth will first appear in a light green, darkening as it matures. With its beautiful network of leaves, the garden peony becomes a perfect backdrop by offsetting smaller spring flowers. Depending upon variety, garden peonies can reach a height of 3 feet, making it perfect for mixed gardens. Yet, with all its distinguishable attributes it will have no problem fulfilling the duties of a specimen planting. By late spring or early summer, buds will begin to form atop the leafy bush. Soon ants will be seen crawling in and around the bud as if causing it to open.
It is true I have never found documentation linking ants with peonies; on the other hand I have never found a peony bud without ants. Also I have heard stories of gardeners, who detest these crawly insects, spraying their peonies with insecticide. The gardens were of course rid of the pests, however they were also lacking in peony blossoms, for the buds never opened. This could all be concluded as an amazing coincidence. The ants could simply be attracted to the sweet blossoms or as an incredible force of nature; the ants could be indeed necessary for the buds to open.
Once these buds are opened, huge flowers spanning 3 inches to 8 inches across will appear. Since the stems of peonies are not woody, they bend under the weight of the gigantic flower heads. In order to support the bent blossoms, gardeners use metal plant rings to keep them upright. There are numerous varieties of peonies available, ranging in shades of white, pink and red. Many varieties are fragrant and an excellent cut flower for arrangements. The garden peony will remain in bloom 4 to 6 weeks with the possibility of a longer bloom time by intermixing varieties. After the blooms are spent, heads can be removed for a cleaner look. For the fall season, attention is once again reverted to the garden peony's foliage. For many varieties this is yet another chance to shine. Adding a striking color to the fall garden, the pointed foliage turns lovely shades of red. This time of year is also perfect timing for dividing peony crowns if needed. Just be sure that when dividing the crown that each new section is made up of five to eight eyes. Due to this root disturbance you may find that these new divisions will produce a very few flowers or not flower at all the following summer. However, there is no real need to divide peonies for they are capable of living in the same location undisturbed for many years. Usually gardeners'; interest in dividing peonies is to simply spread them throughout their gardens.
When looking for a place in which to plant your peonies, you want to select a location with full sun. Soil should be fertile yet well drained. Once this is accomplished peonies will continue to bloom each summer with littler or no care. This amazingly carefree plant is a beautiful addition to any garden and whether planted alone or in a mixed border will always make its presence known.

Positive lupinelover On Feb 2, 2003, lupinelover from Grove City, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

Make sure when you replant the rhizomes they are not planted too deeply. 1" covering the eyes is the maximum depth, otherwise botyrus will attack, causing poor bloom and eventually weakening the plant to death.

Peonies are very drought-tolerent once established; they are very heavy feeders, so providing lots of compost or an extra helping of fertilizer in the autumn will give lots of beautiful blooms next spring.

Positive cmlnmbs On Dec 31, 2002, cmlnmbs from Ashland, WI (Zone 4b) wrote:

From Zone 3 of Northern Wisconsin:

I have two white Festiva Maximas (introduced in France in 1851) which I inherited from my grandmother. They are planted in partial shade - receiving the morning sun; the soil is rich and moist. Each plant produces over 20 blooms each year, between 6" and 8" across. Staking is a must for the heavy blossoms, but with the size, color, and fragrance, these peonies are a prize in my garden!

Experience has taught me that lifting the roots in the fall every 4 or 5 years is very beneficial to the plants. I have seen peonies which have never been lifted produce almost no blossoms and whose growth is dwarfed. And because they like to stay moist, don't forget to mulch!

And I have read that because bugs and disease can be harbored in the dead stalks, I make sure to cut the plants back after a hard frost and burn them.

Neutral killerdaisy On Aug 8, 2001, killerdaisy from Dallas, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Beautiful blooms, 4-8 inches across. Single, Semidouble, and Double varieties, as well as Japanese Peonies, which are similar to Singles (see descriptions below). All these can be further divided into early, mid, and late bloomers. They grow slowly, but are well worth the wait. May grow anywhere from 14 inches to 3 feet tall, and as wide. Need afternoon shade in the South, and humus-rich soil. New plants may need 2-3 years to bloom well, and all plants may not bloom if planted too deep. Double types require staking. Ants on buds are harmless, but gray mold fungus can be serious.

Single: five large petals surrounding a center of yellow stamens

Semidouble: four to eight rings of petals with stamens visible.

Double: huge balls of petals

Japanese: similar to Singles, but with yellow, pollenless staminodes in the center


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Huntsville, Alabama
Lanett, Alabama
Juneau, Alaska
Fayetteville, Arkansas
Ozone, Arkansas
East Palo Alto, California
Sacramento, California
Stockton, California
Denver, Colorado
Ellijay, Georgia
Niles, Illinois
Evansville, Indiana
Smiths Grove, Kentucky
Cumberland, Maryland
Hudson, Massachusetts
Dearborn Heights, Michigan
Grand Haven, Michigan
Pinconning, Michigan
Royal Oak, Michigan
Marietta, Mississippi
Elsberry, Missouri
Hallam, Nebraska
Auburn, New Hampshire
Millville, New Jersey
Buffalo, New York (3 reports)
Boone, North Carolina
Belfield, North Dakota
Bucyrus, Ohio
Ashland, Oregon
Irwin, Pennsylvania
Johnsonburg, Pennsylvania
West Newton, Pennsylvania
Conway, South Carolina
Mc Cormick, South Carolina
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Crossville, Tennessee
Lenoir City, Tennessee
Austin, Texas
Jonesville, Virginia
Roanoke, Virginia
Puyallup, Washington
Ellsworth, Wisconsin
Sheridan, Wyoming

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