Paeonia suffruticosa (Tree Peony) is a woody shrub native to East Asia, particularly China and Japan. It is highly valued for its large, showy flowers and is considered one of the most exquisite and revered peony species.
Appearance: Tree Peonies are deciduous shrubs that can reach a height of 3 to 6 feet (1 to 2 meters), although some varieties may grow taller. They have a woody structure and a spreading habit. The leaves are large, deeply lobed, and glossy, with a dark green color. In fall, the foliage may turn shades of yellow or bronze before dropping.
Flowers: One of the main attractions of Tree Peonies is their stunning flowers. The flowers are large, often measuring 6 to 10 inches (15 to 25 centimeters) in diameter, and come in a wide range of colors, including shades of white, pink, red, purple, and yellow. The petals are often ruffled or fringed, and the center of the flower is filled with numerous stamens. The flowers are typically fragrant and can be single, semi-double, or fully double in form.
Bloom time: Tree Peonies usually bloom in late spring to early summer, depending on the climate and variety. The flowering period is relatively short, typically lasting for a few weeks. However, the captivating beauty of the flowers makes them well worth the wait.
Landscape use: Tree Peonies are highly valued as ornamental plants and are commonly grown in gardens and landscapes. Their large, showy flowers make them excellent focal points or centerpieces. They can be used as specimen plants, planted in groups, or incorporated into mixed borders. When not in bloom, the shrubby structure and attractive foliage of Tree Peonies still contribute to the visual appeal of the landscape.
Growing conditions: Tree Peonies prefer a well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. They thrive in full sun to partial shade conditions. While they can tolerate a range of climates, they often require a period of winter chilling to initiate flower bud formation. They are generally hardy in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 9.
Maintenance: Tree Peonies are generally low-maintenance once established. They benefit from regular watering, particularly during dry periods. Mulching around the base of the plants can help retain moisture and suppress weed growth. Pruning is typically done in late fall or early spring to remove any dead or damaged wood and to shape the plant if necessary.
When selecting Tree Peonies, it's important to choose healthy plants from reputable nurseries or garden centers. They are often sold as grafted plants, where the desirable cultivar is grafted onto a more vigorous rootstock.