Species Peonies

P. obovata

P. obovata

Species peony is a term used for those forms of peonies that are found in nature, the original representatives of their type, unaltered by human hybridization. There are at least 61 recognized wild species and subspecies. As interest and study continues, this number will surely change. Many (or most) of the wild species are endangered or threatened in their native range due to over collecting or habitat loss. It is important to buy only propagated plants, and since it takes about 4 -8 years to grow them to a saleable size, they can be pricey.


The species we choose to grow are those that are more shade tolerant. (P. japonica, P. obovata, P. veitchii , P. banatica) This fits in well with the overall focus of the nursery and makes them excellent companion plants with the other plants we grow. Right now they are well on their way to setting flower buds over very attractive foliage of coral, red, and deep green. Emerging very early with the spring ephemerals really adds a lot to the landscape, both in color and texture. We’ve never had a problem with them and late frosts. They seem to take them in stride.
P. veitchii

P. veitchii

They are relatively easy to grow. A woodland setting of well drained soil in light to dappled shade seems to work very well. Avoid wet areas. No staking is needed , as with the hybrids, and there are no significant pest problems. The foliage stays healthy looking all season. In September the seed pods open to a beautiful combination of blue-black seeds set in bright red pods. A real bonus for any garden. We do not provide any special protection for the winter months. If you grow the hybrid peonies and the tree peonies, the species peonies will extend the season for you. We really enjoy their color and form growing amongst the other woodland plants. Visitors to Fernwood can expect to see many of these ( and other) wonderful peonies growing in the display gardens. Come check them out!

4 comments on “Species Peonies

  1. I have tried growing the obovata peony twice, without success. What am I doing wrong? Should I have left it grow in the pot another year? Have tried it on the east side under a Cornus cousa, on the west between a beauty bush and a stone pine.

    • Our experience has been that they like light or dappled shade in a well drained fertile soil.Never wet. Morning or late afternoon sun is good also.Under evergreens can be tough. Do not plant the crown as deep as you would for the garden variety of peonies.1-2″,no more. They are very cold hardy. Hope this helps.

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