The loveliness that’s inspired many beautiful art pieces through the ages.
And you can have one of these charming muses living in your very own garden.
They are sure to make a real statement in a sunny garden border, growing up to 2-3 metres, although they respond very well to pruning and can be kept at a more manageable 1-1.5m.
Tree peonies are long-lived, deciduous shrubs with large, sometimes dinner plate size, flamboyant, often fragrant flowers in a variety of colours. They range from white through pink to dark red and purple; yellows are also available, along with the more unusual apricot shades.
They are happiest in a sunny or lightly shaded, location sheltered from strong wind to prevent foliage and flower damage and although they can take up to four years to get settled and start flowering the rewards outweigh the wait!
You can plant containerised tree peonies at any time in the year - just remember to water it well when you plant it.
Some planting tips:
- Tree peonies are often grafted onto herbaceous peony rootstock so the graft union will need to be planted about 15cm below soil level. This encourages it to form its own roots
- Once in, water generously to settle the soil
TLC for the Tree
Technically, tree peonies aren’t trees but rather sub-shrubs so they need much the same care as herbaceous varieties.
This is how you can help your tree peony stand the test of time:
- It is best to water regularly during the first summer especially during dry spells
- Mulching well in late Autumn to late winter with organic matter helps keep moisture in but leave a dish around the base of the plant which is clear of any mulch as that can lead to root rot
- Prune in the Autumn and either take back the top growth by about 1/3 in stages or, if you have a multi-stemmed tree peony, cut back every 3rd stem to about 2cm, removing the oldest stems first
- After hibernating happily through the winter chill you’ll want to give it a little boost with a feed come Spring time
So! If you are thinking about adopting a tree peony into your peony family have a look at these lovelies (pictured right):
Paeonia suffruticosa ‘Kokuryu Nishiki’ (Japanese Tree Peony) (Early-Mid Season Flowering)
Japanese tree peony with large semi-double incredible dark burgundy/purple flowers with white veins/flashes on the outer petals
Paeonia ‘High Noon’ AGM (Japanese Tree Peony) Fragrant (Early-Mid Season Flowering)
Stunning semi-double to double, large yellow lemon scented flowers with a red basal flare. Will often flower again in the autumn. Awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit so it is a very reliable tree peony
Paeonia suffruticosa ‘Shichi Fukujin’ (Japanese Tree Peony) (Early-Mid Season Flowering)
Japanese tree peony with large papery thin striking double pink flowers with a raspberry basal flare. Often with a crinkled edge
Paeonia suffruticosa ‘Kuro-Ageha’ (Japanese Tree Peony) (Mid Season Flowering)
A romantically deep red bloom with large golden stamens in the centre of this semi-double peony
Paeonia suffruticosa ‘Fuso-no-tsukasa’ (Japanese Tree Peony) (Mid-Late Season Flowering)
An absolutely stunning, elegant Japanese tree peony with large, pure white double flowers