10 Top Types of Peonies for Your Garden

Updated: Dec. 20, 2023

These 10 winners bring bold colors and dependable blooms to your peony garden, even if you're a beginner picking a peony for the first time.

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Coral Charm Peony
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Coral Charm

This American Peony Society gold medal winner adds a more unexpected peony color to your landscaping.

Semi-double blooms top plants about 36 inches tall and unfurl in salmon pink with yellow middles. They gradually turn orange, then yellow, usually in late May or early June. Coral charm is best grown in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 3 to 8, in partial shade to full sun.

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Bowl Of Beauty Peony
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Bowl of Beauty

Classic peony-pink outer petals cup the lighter lemon-colored staminodes (they look like inner petals) for a striking contrast and classic fragrance for bouquets. Blooms can be 10 inches across on plants about three feet tall. They bloom in mid-spring and may grow in a large pot, but thrive best as a small-shrub border or in a garden, in partial shade or full sun. Best in USDA Hardiness Zones 3-8.

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Gay Paree

This heirloom, dating to the 1930s, resembles Bowl of Beauty but features lush raspberry-red petals that curve around an ivory center. Gay paree peonies can grow to almost three feet tall. Zones 3-7.

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Festiva Maxima Peony
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Festiva Maxima

Tiny flecks of red or deep pink splash across the airy white petals of this timeless, fragrant peony. It has been a favorite choice for bridal bouquets, centerpieces and gardens since it debuted in the 1850s. It grows 30 to 36 inches tall and prefers full sun. Zones 3-8.

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Bartzella Peony
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These semi-double yellow peony blossoms, with striking inner streaks of red, offer a sunny alternative to traditional pink and magenta blooms. The Bartzella peony, part of the Itoh group of peonies, can have close to two dozen blooms on a second-year plant.

Itoh peonies feature sturdy stems that won’t flop under the weight of the prolific blooms. They tend to bloom a little later, too, offering welcome color as other peonies fade for the season. Zones 3-8.

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Peony Karl Rosenfield
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Karl Rosenfield

The deep magenta double blooms of this heirloom date to 1908. More than a century later, it remains a steady favorite. The fragrant flowers can be a garden centerpiece and the star of bouquets when clipped from the three-foot low-maintenance shrub. Plant in sun or partial shade. Zones 3-8.

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Fern Leaf Peony
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Fern-Leaf Peony

This two-foot-high peony shrub stands out with its delicate, airy leaves that add feathery texture to your garden. They tend to bloom earlier than most herbaceous (soft-stemmed) peonies, feature rich red or deep magenta blooms, and may need staking.

Fern-leaf peonies grow slower than other varieties and do not like being moved and divided. They’ll stay put and thrive for years in a spot with about six hours of sun each day. Zones 3-8.

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The joker peony’s large, fluffy blooms open up as bright pink before living up to its name by fading to white while retaining the distinctive pink edges. The plant can tolerate partial shade and grows about 2-1/2 feet tall. Zones 3-8.

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Fairy Princess Peony
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Fairy Princess

If you have a rock garden or a compact garden, or want a smaller perennial for the front of a border, consider a dwarf peony. Fairy Princess dwarf peony unfurls satiny red single blooms with golden yellow stamens in the center. These peonies grow 20 to 24 inches tall and won’t fall down when it rains. They require full sun or partial shade. Zones 3-9.

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Shimadaijin Peony
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For an even showier display of peony blooms, consider tree peonies, which grow four to five feet tall. Close to 100 reddish-purple flowers can bloom on a fully grown Shimadaijin tree peony in mid-spring.

No pruning of spent flowers is needed. Use this woody shrub as the back border of a garden or to dress up the front of your home in full sun or partial shade. Zones 3-7.