Known as the “King of Flowers” in China, and the “Queen of Herbs” by the Ancient Greeks, peonies have stood the test of time. It is said that when explorer Marco Polo first saw peonies in China, he called them “Roses as big as cabbages” …!

Who doesn’t love the light and luxuriant ambience they bring to a room…!

We love them but do we really know them? There are essentially two types of peony plants, herbaceous and trees, with many different shapes & types of flowers. The large, airy blooms of a Semi Double Coral Charm are the ubiquitous bright pink peonies which have become synonymous with the entire species of flower, but peonies are so much more varied…!

Often confused with other large, well-loved, multi-petalled flowers from ranunculus to roses, or even double bloom tulips, peonies can have a single ring of petals, double layers or seemingly endless layers of petals.

Anemone Peony Photo by Carsten Burkhardt’s Web Project Paeonia

Anemone Peonies feature single or double rows of petals, with stamens transformed into broad petals.

Japanese peonies do not actually originate from Japan, but are so called as they are most commonly grown there. These unusual looking flowers feature single or double rows of petals, with thin pointy petals at the centre.

Japanese Peony Photo by Fleurica
Single Peony Photo by Carsten Burkhardt’s Web Project Paeonia

Single peonies are often confused with wild rose bushes, as the flowers have only one row of petals.

Semi Double Peonies have multiple rows of petals around a centre, giving a layered look. In full bloom the flower’s anthers are prominently visible.

Coral Charm Semi Double Photo by Fleurica
Full Double Photo by Carsten Burkhardt’s Web Project Paeonia

Full double peonies have an especially airy & light look as the carpals and stamens develop into petals, leaving ruffled layers swirling out from the centre of the flower.

Aptly called ‘bombs’ these flowers consist of dense balls of petals, giving a round and sculptured look to the flowers. 

Bomb Peony Photo by Carsten Burkhardt’s Web Project Paeonia

So how do you know that is it a peony? Here are a few fun facts about peonies that will help.

Thorns – peonies do not have thorns. If you see thorns on the stem, it is most likely a garden rose.

Size – Ranunculus, like peonies, have petal-packed and nicely-stacked blooms. However, their bloom size is a lot smaller, and takes on a flatter cup shape. Peonies can grow as big as 10 inches.

Stems and leaves – Double Bloom Tulips are also much smaller in bloom size compared to peonies. The biggest telltale signs are their stems, which are softer than peonies, as well as their leaves, which are long and slender.

Interesting Facts

  • Peonies symbolize good fortune and happy marriage, it is no wonder that they are such highly requested flowers in bridal bouquets! Peonies are also traditionally used for 12th wedding anniversary celebrations.
  • Growing a peony plant is akin to nurturing a long term relationship. Under the right care, the flower can bloom for more than 100 years.
  • Peonies come in every colour except blue. Pinks, corals, and yellow peonies tend to be more popular compared to their darker shaded counterparts in maroon. The lighter coloured peonies are also more fragrant. 

Peonies bloom in late spring, starting in April all the way through till June. We are right in the middle of peony season, perfect time to buy some of these elegant soft blooms to spruce up your home space!