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10 Shade Tolerant Peony Varieties

Imagine a perfect break from the busy world: the beauty of fragrant peonies nestled under large trees on a warm day. In this article, I’ll share insights about shade-loving peonies, their benefits, and more.

First, it’s important to know that deep shade isn’t ideal for any peony variety. However, two species thrive in partial shade: P. obovata var. japonica and Paeonia suffruticosa, including all their varieties. They need 4 to 6 hours of direct sunlight daily, with shade for the remaining time.

Paeonia japonica

peony for shade

Kicking off our list of shade-tolerant peonies is Paeonia japonica, a charming, small herbaceous perennial. It comfortably grows to about 1.5 feet in both height and width, making it an ideal choice for various garden sizes. This peony thrives in USDA hardiness zones 5 to 8.

Its striking appearance is marked by large white flowers, each boasting a vibrant yellow center. You’ll see these blooms in late spring, though they might appear a bit later in cooler regions.

Caring for Paeonia japonica is a breeze, and it’s known for its robust growth. Just remember, it does require some daily direct sunlight to ensure it flowers beautifully.

Paeonia suffruticosa High Noon

shade tolerant peony

This peony stands out as a top choice for partial shade. It’s adorned with eye-catching bright yellow flowers, each a substantial 6 inches across. The blooms are semi-double and have a delightful appearance.

Reaching up to 4 feet in height, it’s notably the tallest among its kind, with a slightly narrower spread of about 3 feet.

Renowned for its longstanding presence in gardens, this classic variety grows quickly, ensuring a swift display of its beautiful flowers. It’s hardy in zones 4 to 9, adding to its appeal for various garden settings.

While it has a milder scent, the fragrance it does offer is quite pleasing.

Flight of Cranes Peony

shade peony

Take a moment to admire this stunning plant! Its massive white flowers, resembling 10-inch wide pom-poms, are sure to capture the attention of any plant lover.

This variety’s compact stature allows it to fit perfectly in even the smallest of gardens, as it doesn’t grow beyond 2.5 feet in both height and width. Despite its petite size, it’s a robust plant that thrives in most parts of the United States.

However, similar to the previous variety, it has a downside: the scent is mild, though still quite pleasant.

And, just like the other peonies we’ve discussed, the ‘Flight of Cranes’ variety requires a few hours of sunlight each day to flourish.

Island Minister Peony

peony for shade

Originating from Japan, this variety, known for its longevity of over 50 years, has become a popular choice.

The ‘Island Minister’ Peony is renowned for its striking, large 8-inch flowers, boasting a deep red-purple hue. These semi-double blooms are more plentiful compared to other peonies, creating a bush that’s a sight to behold when in full bloom.

It’s not just the looks that make it stand out; this peony is also hardy across a wide range of temperatures, thriving in zones 4 to 9. Its impressive size, reaching up to 4×4 feet, adds to its majestic presence in any garden setting.

Coral n Gold Peony

peony for shade

Another gem from Japan, this variety captivates with its sizable pink flowers. Each bloom features a vivid pink center, contrasting with the slightly lighter hue of the older petals around the edges. These flowers span an impressive 7 inches across.

The ‘Coral n Gold’ Peony is distinguished by its abundance of petals. It typically flowers in the latter half of May, though it can occasionally bloom into early June.

This bush’s compact size, standing at 3 feet, makes it versatile for placement in various garden spaces.

A unique aspect of this variety is its young foliage, which is a striking red in spring, further enhancing its appeal.

King of Flowers Peony

shade tolerant peony

Indeed a regal presence in the world of peonies! This variety, with its grand red-pink blooms, sets itself apart from other tree peonies. The flowers are remarkable, spanning 10 inches with an abundance of petals, a feature not commonly seen in many peonies.

Its size is yet another plus. Reaching a manageable height and width of three feet, it’s perfectly suited for any garden space or can even be grown in a pot. The variety’s excellent adaptability, thriving in zones 4 to 9, adds to its desirability.

Adding to its charm is its rich history; this variety is over 90 years old, a testament to the expertise of Japanese breeders who developed it.

Joy of Longevity Peony

shade tolerant peony

This unique variety stands out with its light purple petals, almost lavender in hue, beautifully contrasted by a dark purple center. These distinctive 9-inch flowers make it a true standout.

Belonging to the category of late-flowering peonies, it begins its blooming phase in the first half of June and emits a subtle yet pleasing fragrance.

Its robust hardiness ensures it can flourish across the United States.

With an oval-shaped bush reaching 4 feet in height and 3 feet in width, this variety is perfectly suited for compact gardens and areas with partial shade.

Magical Red Haired Woman Peony

shade tolerant peony

This relatively new variety captivates with its striking bicolor flowers. The petals transition from snow-white at the tips to a vivid display of red veins stretching from the base to the middle, creating a sharp and stunning contrast against the white.

Boasting large 9-inch blooms, this variety falls under the category of double (terry) peonies, making it a particularly intriguing and rare find.

The shrub itself can grow up to 4 feet tall and is noted for its excellent frost resistance and ease of care, making it a resilient and low-maintenance choice for gardeners.

Boundless Bright Sky Peony

shade tolerant peony

This variety boasts several key advantages, starting with its impressive flowers. Each bloom measures 9 inches across and features double the number of petals compared to a typical peony, forming large, dense spheres of pure white—a truly unique and eye-catching sight.

Another benefit is its substantial size. Standing at 5 feet tall and 4.5 feet wide, it does require more space, but its robust and solid structure is well worth it, especially with the stunning large flowers enhancing its overall appearance.

The Boundless Bright Sky Peony is also favored for its excellent winter hardiness and a very strong scent, making it a popular choice among gardeners.

Siloam Peony Display Daylily

shade tolerant peony

While technically not a peony, it blooms with equal, if not greater, vigor. Its petals are a unique creamy orange, a shade that’s quite distinct from typical peonies.

The daylily’s flowers are fully double, meaning they have twice as many petals as standard peonies and significantly more than most lilies, creating a lush, full appearance.

One of its biggest strengths is its adaptability to semi-shade conditions. Coupled with its remarkable tolerance to both heat and cold (suitable for zones 3-9), this plant emerges as an excellent alternative to traditional peonies.

Coral Sunset Peony

coral sunset peony

The Coral Sunset Peony is a captivating perennial known for its stunning and uniquely colored blooms. As the flowers open, they display a vivid coral hue that gradually fades to a soft, sunset-like pink, giving the plant its name. These large, bowl-shaped blooms are not only eye-catching but also emit a delightful fragrance, adding to their appeal.

The plant typically reaches a height of about 2 to 3 feet and spreads equally wide, making it a striking addition to any garden. It blooms in late spring to early summer, thriving in well-drained soil and requiring full sun to partial shade. The Coral Sunset Peony is especially valued for its sturdy stems that hold the blooms upright, reducing the need for staking, and its excellent performance as a cut flower, bringing a touch of outdoor beauty inside.