Peony Paeonia lactiflora

☠ Toxic to humans
🐾 Toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Hard-care
Chinese peony


The plant commonly known as the Chinese peony typically bears large, deeply lobed leaves that are lush and green, creating an attractive backdrop for the blossoms. These elegant flowers are the plant's most striking feature, displaying an array of colors from pure white to various shades of pink and deep red. Some varieties have a single row of petals, while others boast numerous rows, creating a ruffled, voluminous form. At the center of each bloom, a cluster of contrasting golden-yellow stamens adds a striking touch, drawing the eye and emphasizing the flower's intricate beauty. The Chinese peony blooms in late spring to early summer, bringing a showy display to the garden when many other plants are only just beginning to wake from their winter dormancy. Its flowers exude a sweet fragrance, which makes them not only visually appealing but also a delight for the sense of smell. Once the flowering season concludes, the plant's lush foliage continues to provide a dense and attractive greenery until the cooler fall months cause the leaves to turn and the plant to enter its dormant phase.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Chinese Peony, Common Garden Peony, White Peony

    • Common names

      Paeonia albiflora, Paeonia edulis, Paeonia fragrans.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      Peony (Paeonia lactiflora) is not commonly known to be toxic to humans. There is limited information on severe toxicity or poisoning from ingestion of peonies. However, consuming any non-food plant can potentially cause gastrointestinal discomfort, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea due to the presence of plant compounds that can be irritating to the digestive system. Despite the lack of severe toxicity, it is generally advised to avoid ingesting plants that are not intended for human consumption.

    • To pets

      Peony (Paeonia lactiflora) is considered to be mildly toxic to pets, particularly cats and dogs. If a pet ingests part of a peony plant, they may experience mild gastrointestinal upset, which can include symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea. In most cases, the symptoms are not severe and tend to resolve on their own. However, if a pet has ingested a peony and is displaying distress or prolonged symptoms, it is important to contact a veterinarian.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      2-3 feet (0.6-0.9 meters)

    • Spread

      2-3 feet (0.6-0.9 meters)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Aesthetic Appeal: Paeonia lactiflora, commonly known as the Chinese peony, features large, showy flowers that are prized for their ornamental value in gardens and floral arrangements.
    • Variety of Colors: The Chinese peony comes in a range of colors including white, pink, red, and various shades thereof, offering diverse options for garden design.
    • Fragrance: Many varieties emit a pleasant fragrance, which can enhance the sensory experience of a garden or indoor space when used in cut flower arrangements.
    • Longevity: Chinese peony plants are known for their long lifespan, and when planted in ideal conditions, they can live and bloom for many years, even decades.
    • Seasonal Interest: They provide seasonal interest in the garden, with lush foliage in spring and summer, and attractive seed pods in autumn.
    • Cut Flower Production: Due to their attractive and large blossoms, Chinese peonies are commonly grown for the cut flower industry, providing economic benefits to growers.
    • Heritage and Tradition: Peonies have a long history of cultivation and are often associated with good fortune, prosperity, and romance in various cultures, adding intangible value beyond their physical appearance.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    • Anti-inflammatory: Paeonia lactiflora has compounds that may reduce inflammation, which can help alleviate symptoms of certain inflammatory diseases.
    • Immunomodulatory: It may have properties that can modulate the immune system, potentially beneficial for immune-related disorders.
    • Analgesic: Contains substances that might have pain-relieving effects.
    • Antispasmodic: It can potentially ease spasms in muscles, which may be helpful in conditions like cramps.
    • Antioxidant: The presence of antioxidants could protect cells from oxidative stress and damage related to various diseases.
    • Neuroprotective: May offer some protective effects for the nervous system and be beneficial for neurodegenerative conditions.
    • Cardiovascular Health: It could have effects that may contribute to the health of the cardiovascular system.
    • Antitumor: Certain components might have properties that can act against tumor cells, though this is not an endorsement for cancer treatment.
    • Gastrointestinal Support: May help soothe the gastrointestinal tract and assist with issues such as ulcers.
    • Liver Protection: There are indications that Paeonia lactiflora may have hepatoprotective effects, potentially aiding in liver health.
    • Women's Health: Traditionally used to address menstrual and reproductive issues, though evidence for efficacy is variable.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • The petals of Paeonia lactiflora, commonly known as peony, can be added to salads or used as a garnish for their subtle fragrance and splash of color.
    • As a natural fabric dye, peony petals can impart a gentle pink shade to textiles, ideal for crafting unique garments or linens.
    • The peony's large, showy blooms are often used in floral arrangements for weddings and other special events, symbolizing good fortune and a happy marriage.
    • Dried peony petals can serve as a delicate and aromatic addition to homemade potpourris.
    • Peony plants are sometimes planted as part of garden designs to create a structured and layered look due to their lush, full growth habit.
    • Peonies can be used in artistic photography, with their big, bold blooms adding a dramatic element to still life compositions.
    • The roots of peonies are traditionally carved into intricate artworks in China, showcasing the plant's cultural significance beyond its blooms.
    • In the culinary arts, sugared peony petals can be used as an edible decoration on cakes and desserts, offering a subtle sweetness and elegant appearance.
    • Peony blooms can be floated in large bowls of water to create simple yet stunning centerpieces for tables at events or in homes.
    • The plant's seeds can be cold stratified and grown as a hands-on educational project to teach children or gardening enthusiasts about plant biology and propagation.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Peony, particularly the white variety, is often used in Feng Shui to attract love and romance when placed in the southwest corner of a garden or home.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Peony is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Prosperity: The lush, full blooms of the Peony are often associated with wealth and good fortune.
    • Honor: In many cultures, the Peony is a symbol of honor and high social status due to its regal appearance.
    • Romance: With its rich, romantic colors, the Peony is often linked with the expression of love and affection.
    • Beauty: The striking beauty of Peonies has made them a symbol of physical attractiveness and charm.
    • Happy Marriage: Due to their lush and opulent flowers, Peonies are commonly used in wedding bouquets to symbolize a happy and prosperous marriage.

Every 1-2 weeks
500 - 2500 Lux
Every 3-4 years
Spring-Early Summer
As needed
  • water dropWater

    Peonies require deep, infrequent watering to establish their extensive root system. Generally, peonies should be watered once a week, with about 1 inch of water, or 0.623 gallons to cover a square foot of soil. During hot or dry spells, watering frequency should increase but keep consistent to avoid overwatering. Reduce watering in the fall as the plant prepares for dormancy, and avoid getting water on the foliage to prevent fungal diseases.

  • sunLight

    Peonies prefer full sun, requiring at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. The best spot for peonies is in an area where they are exposed to early morning light, which helps dry the dew on the leaves, reducing the risk of fungal diseases. They can tolerate light afternoon shade, especially in hotter climates, to protect blooms from fading too quickly.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Peonies are hardy and can survive minimal winter temperatures down to around -20°F. The ideal temperature for peonies is between 65°F and 75°F. They require a period of winter chilling, below 40°F, to produce buds, making them well-suited for growing in regions with cold winters.

  • scissorsPruning

    Peonies don't require regular pruning but cleaning up spent blooms and removing dead foliage can improve health and appearance. After flowering, deadheading helps prevent seed formation, directing energy back into the plant. In late fall, after the first frost, cut back peony foliage to the ground to prevent overwintering diseases. This annual pruning prepares peonies for their winter dormancy and promotes healthier growth in spring.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    Peonies, such as the Paeonia lactiflora, thrive in well-draining soil with a pH of 6.5 to 7.0. An ideal soil mix should contain two parts garden soil, one part compost or well-rotted manure, and one part sand or perlite to enhance drainage. Adding organic matter annually will keep the soil fertile and suitable for the peony's growth.

  • plantRepotting

    Peonies like Paeonia lactiflora rarely need repotting and prefer not to be disturbed. They should only be repotted if necessary, such as when overcrowded, roughly every 10 to 15 years. Peonies are long-lived perennials that can thrive in the same location for decades.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Peonies, including Paeonia lactiflora, are tolerant of a wide range of humidity levels and do not require specific humidity conditions. Typical outdoor humidity levels are usually adequate for healthy growth, as long as adequate watering and soil drainage are maintained.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Grow peonies indoors with bright, indirect light and cool temperatures.

    • Outdoor

      Plant peonies outside in full sun and well-drained soil.

    • Hardiness zone

      3-8 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    The perennial herbaceous plant commonly known as the Chinese peony (Paeonia lactiflora) begins its life as a seed, requiring a period of cold stratification to stimulate germination. Once the seed germinates, usually in early spring, it develops a small root system and a shoot that emerges from the soil, forming its first leaves. In the following years, the plant will develop a larger root system and more substantial foliage; it takes several years for the Chinese peony to mature and be ready to produce flowers. Blooming typically occurs from late spring to early summer, presenting large and often fragrant flowers in a variety of colors, which attract pollinators for sexual reproduction. After pollination, the flowers produce seed pods which eventually dry and open to disperse seeds late in the growing season. The plant then undergoes senescence in fall, with above-ground parts dying back, and remains dormant during winter, storing energy in its underground tuberous roots for next spring's growth cycle.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Spring-Early Summer

    • The common garden peony, Paeonia lactiflora, is best propagated by dividing the root system, a process ideally performed in the fall after the plant has gone dormant. To divide a peony, carefully dig around the plant to lift the root clump from the soil. The roots are usually large and tuberous with eyes, or growth nodes, from which new shoots emerge. Clean the soil off the roots and use a sharp knife to cut the clump into sections, ensuring that each division has at least three to five eyes. These sections can then be replanted into well-draining soil with the eyes positioned about 1 to 2 inches (roughly 2.5 to 5 centimeters) below the soil surface, allowing sufficient space for the roots to spread. Adequate spacing, ideally about 3 feet (about 0.9 meters) apart, ensures good air circulation, which is crucial for peony health and bloom. Proper depth and spacing are key factors that will contribute to successful flowering in subsequent years.