There are numerous peonies that do not require staking. They are referred to as "landscape" peonies. Let's explore them and see how you can bring some of these low maintenance beauties to your garden.
One thing to bear in mind when purchasing peonies is that active hybridizers will often take a classic peony that is quite inexpensive ($16 to $18) and give it a minor genetic spin (which may or may not make it better) so that they can command a premium price for it (usually ten dollars more). My advice would be to go with the classic peony, which is widely available, tried and true. In the interest of economy, I am eliminated itohs and intersectionals (crosses between tree peonies and lactiflora peonies) since they are priced at anything from $50 to close to $200.
Peony lactiflora 'Bowl of Beauty'
Hybridized by in 1949 By "hoogendoorn" 'Bowl of Beauty', which is hardy from zones 3-8 has large anemone shaped blossoms, as much as 8 inches wide. It is wonderfully fragrant and makes an excellent cut flower. It blooms early in the season. Since it is 2 to 3 feet high and wide, it should be spaced accordingly. It thrives in full sun to light afternoon shade. The blossoms can be quite large: 9" to 10″ across, sometimes more.
It is a very reliable peony, with strong stems. A multiple award winner, it also has a wonderful fragrance, and is a popular cut flower.
Peony lactiflora 'Krinkled White'
Hybridized by Archie Brand in 1928 and considered one of the finest of all white single peonies, award-winning Peony 'Krinkled White' features large blossoms with crepe paper-like, crinkled petals surrounding a tuft of golden stamens in their center. Slightly fragrant, the flowers are borne in profusion, thanks to the presence of many buds. It is tall and erect and is considered to have very desirable from. It opens light pink. It is a proven performer in the south, in places like Louisiana, while showing excellent form in cold climates.
With a height and spread of 2 to 3 feet, and blooming in full to partial sun, this is a very popular peony for cutting. It too has won multiple awards.
Peony 'Burma Ruby' or 'Burma Joy'
Burma Ruby, hybridized by Glasscock in 1928, is a hybrid single. Hardy in zones 2 to 8, in appearance, it is very much like a supersized oriental poppy. Height and spread are both 2 to 3 feet. There are very similar cultivars, namely Burma Joy and Burma Midnight, the latter hybridized by Klehm in 1994. If this peony is to your taste, you should feel comfortable ordering whichever is most available to you. Do note that the original is a Gold Medal winner and still considered one of the best reds. It too blooms in full sun to partial shade. It has won the Award of Landscape Merit, and is reliable and vigorous.
This is Burma Joy, from my garden.
Peony 'Coral Sunset'
Among the first peonies to bloom in spring, this series of peonies to which this belongs introduced a new color to the genus. Hardy in zones 3 to 8, the height is of 2.5 to 3.5 feet, with a spread of 2 to 2.5 feet. Coral pink with gold centers, like most peonies, it requires full sun to part shade. There are a series of coral peonies, from Pink Hawaiian Coral, Coral Sunset to Coral Charm. One thing to bear in mind is their vigor. I went to Janesville, Wisconsin for a peony conference, and we were taken to the fields of Roy Klehm, whose family has been growing peonies for three generations. Karl J. Klehm, perhaps the preeminent hybridizer until he retired in April of 2019, took us to a field of Pink Hawaiian Coral peonies that stretched pretty much as far as the eye could see.
Lesson of the story - this peony is extremely vigorous.
It was hybridized in 1981 by Samuel Wissing and Roy G. Klehm, and won many awards. It possesses large, semi-double, ruffled flowers that open smoldering coral with rose-pink highlights and mature to pale apricot with golden-yellow stamen centers. It is lightly fragrant.
Peony 'Bride's Dream'
Hybridized by William Krekler in 1965, this is a white Japanese style peony that is hardy in zones 5 to 8. This is a rather different looking peony in that it has a large number of thin petaloids that fill the center.This plant is 2 and a half to 3 feet tall and wide. It stands up well to the elements, including rain. It is reliable and vigorous, and has a large number of side buds, which substantially increases the length of the blooming period.
Peony 'Sea Shell'
Introduced in 1937, by William Sass. I will let the Old House Gardens website speak for this one:
'Sea Shell’ produces a flurry of big, soft pink, single flowers on sturdy stems, each illuminated by a heart of yellow stamens."
The lilac-pink single blooms born over a very long season as side buds extend the season. Hardy in zones 3 to 8, and growing in full to partial shade, it makes a wonderful cut flower. 3 to 4 feet tall, and 2 to 3 feet wide, it is very free-flowering and quite vigorous. Another award winner.
'Peony Etched Salmon'
This Cousins/Klehm, 1981 hybrid from 1981 is a 34 inch tall double, rose type peony, salmon pink, with a mild fragrance that is 34 inches tall. Award-winning, it has a very symmetrical appearance with petals all the same height and finely cupped with a depth of color to the center.
Peony 'Buckeye Bell'
For an incredible splash of dark red try this semi-double peony. The flowers are silky and the blooms are dark red. Hybridized by Walter Mains in 1956, this anemone type peony is actually more maroon than red, with silky flowers. Two feet tall and two to three feet wide and hardy in zones 3-8, this multiple award winner award winner is a good grower and a fabulous cut flower.
Lastly, I must mention Peony 'White Cap'. I was bringing it from one house to another, so it was in a pot, and I realized just how stunning it is. Hardy in zones 3-8, with a height of 34 inches and a width of 25 inches, it is a real standout in the garden. Multiple awards, of course!!! It is the peony in the image at the top of this article. Raspberry, Japanese, with beautiful centers of ivory and pale pink staminodia, and a good grower.
Hybridized by Winchell in 1956, it is sought after as a garden specimen and cut flower.
If you have hesitated growing peonies, I hope that you will consider some of these choice beauties.