The main differences between tree and herbaceous peonies

The main differences between tree and herbaceous peonies


Peony is a genus of plants named after the mythical Dr. Peon. Peon healed mortals and gods from injuries received on the fields of major battles.
The peony genus includes both spectacular herbaceous perennials and shrubs.
Plants of this genus have been cultivated for more than 2 thousand years. The first mention of decorative peonies can be found in the manuscripts of the Chinese Qin dynasty.
Peony is a genus of plants named after the mythical Dr. Peon. Peon healed mortals and gods from injuries received on the fields of major battles.

The peony genus includes both spectacular herbaceous perennials and shrubs.

Plants of this genus have been cultivated for more than 2 thousand years. The first mention of decorative peonies can be found in the manuscripts of the Chinese Qin dynasty.

As an ornamental plant, peonies are used all over the world.

Raw materials from peonies are used in medicine for the preparation of sedatives. Also used for perfumery.

Peony groups

Conventionally, all types and varieties of peonies are divided into three main groups:

  • Herbaceous;
  • Tree-like;
  • ITO peonies;

Herbaceous peonies are mainly hybrids of the lactic-flowered peony (Paeonia lactiflora) and the medicinal peony (Paeonia officinalis).

Treelike peonies are hybrids of the shrub peony (Paeonia suffruticosa) and the Roca peony.

(Paeonia rockii).

ITO peonies are hybrids of tree and milk-flowered peonies bred by the breeder Toichi Ito through more than 1200 crosses.

We will tell you the difference between the main groups of peonies in this article.

Features of herbaceous peonies

Herbaceous peonies have a dense rhizome with pronounced storage and suction roots.

The storage roots of the peony are formed in place of the adventitious ones, in the milky-flowered peonies they are spindle-shaped, in the hybrids of the medicinal peony they are tuberous.

According to the shape of the flowers in herbaceous peonies, the following subgroups are distinguished:

  • terry - with many layers of petals;
  • anemone - in the center of the flower there are shortened petals - petallodia;
  • simple peonies - with one row of petals;
  • Japanese - in the center of the flower are modified stamens - staminodes.

The height of the stems of herbaceous peonies is on average from 50 to 100 cm, the diameter of the flower is from 10 to 20 cm. The flowers often have a very strong aroma.

An adult bush forms up to 50 flowers per season, depending on the variety.

Leaves are dark green, glossy.

The main differences between herbaceous peonies from other groups:

  • The stems must die off for the winter;
  • Very frost-resistant, can withstand temperatures up to -30 degrees Celsius;
  • The buds are placed directly on the rhizome;
  • There are no yellow shades in the range of flowers;
  • Flowers grow on top of annual shoots;
  • The roots are located deeper than those of ITO-peonies;
  • Leaves are weakly dissected;
  • Resistant to wind and sun.

Features of tree peonies

Tree peonies naturally grow on rocks at an altitude of more than 300 meters in some provinces of China.

At the moment, several hundred varieties of tree peonies have been bred, which are divided into 3 groups:

  • Chinese;
  • Japanese;
  • Delaway peonies hybrids.

Treelike peonies reach a height of 150 to 200 cm. They have flowers with a diameter of 10 to 20 cm. The flowers exude a pleasant aroma.

Bloom in late May-June. After flowering, fruit-boxes are formed.

Treelike peonies have their own rooted and grafted seedlings.

Own-rooted tree peonies are grown from seeds. Bloom 6-7 years after planting seeds. They are more resistant to frost and disease.

Another type - grafted, is the product of crossing a self-rooted seedling and a lactic-flowered peony. Bloom for 3-4 years of life.

Florium online store supplies only grafted three-year peony seedlings of the best quality. All of them are grown in nurseries in China.

The main differences between tree peonies:

  • Stems are lignified, with light brown bark, do not die off for the winter;
  • They bloom at a later age than herbaceous peonies;
  • They have a much wider range of colors than herbaceous peonies;
  • The buds are located at the tops of the stems;
  • Decorative, highly dissected glossy foliage;
  • Decorative throughout the season;
  • They grow in one place without transplanting up to 100 years;
  • Treelike peonies are used to make tonic, wound healing and anti-inflammatory drugs;
  • The process of growing tree peony seedlings is longer;
  • Saplings of tree-like frame peonies are more expensive than herbaceous ones;
  • For good flowering, pruning of stems damaged after winter is required;
  • The root system is deeper and vertical.

Features of ITO-pions

ITO peonies or intersectional hybrids have some of the properties of treelike and herbaceous peonies.

Bushes for ITO-peonies with a height of 70 to 100 cm.

Bloom in late May-June. Flowers with a diameter of 10 to 25 cm, fragrant.

During the season, from 30 to 50 flowers appear on a 4-5 year old bush.

ITO peonies grow well here and under large trees, and near the front of the house, in lowlands, in sunny and shady areas in the garden, they can also be used for planting in large containers.

The main differences between ITO pions:

  • Buds of a peculiar shape and brown color;
  • Long-lasting flowering thanks to additional lateral buds;
  • Partially the rhizome and the lower part of the stems become lignified;
  • The upper part of the stems dies off for the winter;
  • The buds are located not on the rhizome, but on the lower part of the stems;
  • The root system is more superficial than that of herbaceous peonies;
  • Flowers of the most varied colors, red, yellow purple, orange, lavender and with contrasting spots at the base of the petals;
  • From season to season, the intensity of the color of flowers may vary;
  • Very frost-resistant;
  • The foliage is very similar to the foliage of tree-like peonies, falls off only at the end of autumn;
  • Flowers stand in the cut for a long time, unlike their shrub relatives.


  1. Information about Garden Plants
  2. Information on Perennial Plants

Categories: Garden plants Perennials Flowering

How to care for peonies in autumn


Peonies are a real gem and a rich decoration for any garden. These are some of the oldest cultivated plants that impress with gorgeous flowers of various shapes and color variations from pure white and pale cream tones to deep burgundy and purple colors. In one place, they can grow for decades, while maintaining a high aesthetic appeal. With the arrival of spring, ruby ​​sprouts sprout from the ground, and then large openwork dark green leaves appear and luxurious colorful buds with a pleasant aroma bloom. With proper care of the leaves, even in autumn they do not lose their decorative effect and, being painted in rich crimson tones, look spectacular against the backdrop of picturesque autumn landscapes. Flowers are beautiful in group plantings and prefabricated compositions, in spectacular pionaria and as tapeworms. Peonies tolerate frosts well enough, but still it is worth preparing the plants in advance for the harsh Russian winter.

In China, peonies have deservedly received the status of "king of flowers". Here interest in them began more than 2 thousand years ago, and since the 1980s. the world famous "Festival of peonies" is held annually in the country, where all events are dedicated to these beautiful flowers.

How to choose peonies for the garden

The pedigree of the peony is wide and multifaceted. His family tree includes 34 main species and more than 5 thousand varieties. However, for all its diversity, the royal flower is quite ordinary in terms of life forms. The peony has only two of them: herbaceous and tree-like. And if the first species grows in almost every flowerbed, then many are not even familiar with the second.

Meanwhile, a tree-like peony can easily move a bush rose and even a hydrangea from a pedestal. In a word, there is something for a gardener to think about when buying peony seedlings. After all, each of the forms has its own advantages and decorates the site in completely different ways.

There is only one difference between the two varieties of peonies, which immediately catches the eye: it is a solid trunk. Treelike ones have it (and not one), while herbaceous ones have only stems. For this reason, the tree peony, like a true shrub, grows more slowly, but taller than its herbal counterpart. The first is an almost two-meter handsome man, the second is only a meter "with a cap". There is one more difference - the timing and extent of flowering. Shrub peonies are densely covered with flowers at the end of May (up to 80 flowers per bush), and only three weeks later they give way to herbaceous ones with their 12-20 buds. In general, the inflorescences, and the dissection of the leaves, and the aroma are almost identical (although the tree-like ones, of course, have more interesting foliage). They also have a common distant homeland - China, where they are used for medical purposes and are ranked as national colors. But since the tree-like peony is a direct result of ancient selection, it has just over 500 descendants against 4664 modern herbaceous varieties.

Both herbaceous and tree-like peonies are planted at the same time - in the fall. Both types have approximately the same rider: the place should be open, spacious, well lit, without strong winds and high groundwater.

The soil is of neutral acidity, moisture-permeable, nutritious and loose (optimally loam). At the bottom of the pits there is an obligatory drainage layer, and the dimensions of the recess are about 50-70 cm in depth and width. The root collar of both those and others cannot be buried.

Further - watering, loosening, fertilizing, shelter from frost in the first winter and removal of dried parts in the spring. The difference in care is only in the fact that it is recommended to cut the first buds of herbaceous peonies so that the plant spends energy on the development of roots. You can leave the flowers in the tree. Branches are also cut in winter. In tree-like ones, a bush with a height of 10 cm is left, in herbaceous ones - a stump of 3 cm.


Both tree and herbaceous representatives are widely used in landscape design. They are used for landscaping private gardens, squares and parks. True, each species will have its own nuances when disembarking.

Tree peonies, due to their shape and rather large size, are well placed next to flowering bushes of lilacs and chestnuts, conifers. Low bulbous and primroses - crocuses, woods, etc. will look good between the bushes. And since the bush itself is a striking decorative element, it is good to plant it one by one in the most prominent places.

Low and compact herbaceous peonies, of course, have more opportunities. They can simply be planted in flower beds, near water bodies, in rocky gardens, next to coniferous ground cover, decorate lawns and rockeries with them, plant near gazebos and at the entrance to the garden. They look great in group plantings from varieties of different colors. A win-win option is to buy with different flowering periods, so that the bushes decorate the garden continuously.

Many gardeners, still undecided, plant both tree-like and herbaceous peonies in the plots. However, selection has already taken a step towards them and created the so-called ito-hybrids. These hybrids are a mix of two species, incorporating only the best features of both: spherical large bushes, an unusual color of inflorescences with contrasting inserts, a dying aerial part (which provides better wintering), unusual leaves with edging and veins. For such peonies is the future, but until they firmly entered floriculture, we will decorate gardens in the old fashioned way - with tree-like and herbaceous beauties.

5 Raspberry Sunday

Raspberry Sunday makes you fall in love at first sight. The multifaceted shade of pink in the middle gradually turns into cream with yellowish accents at the edges of the bud. It blooms early for several weeks. An equally important distinctive feature of the variety is its aroma reminiscent of the smell of roses. Peony flowers are larger than average in size (18 cm). Raspberry Sunday is a real decoration for any garden. It is also often used in bouquet arrangements.

The peony bush is compact with bright, beautifully shaped leaves and strong stems. Its maximum height is 1 meter. It grows in one place for many years, not whimsical to care for. For landing, you should choose a well-lit place, because the variety loves the sun's rays. The buds should not be higher than 3 cm above the surface. The main advantages: an unusual color combination, attractive appearance, not capricious in care, tolerates subzero temperatures well, good reviews from gardeners.

List of popular dark varieties with photos

Modern breeders do not stop working on the development of new, most effective varieties. Dark varieties also appear with new, sonorous names. Gardeners love these elegant, tall, yet unpretentious plants. They look amazing! They will decorate any garden, adjoining territory or city flower bed.

They were given appropriate names - attractive, alluring. I must say that these beautiful names really match the appearance. Let's list the most popular varieties - this is the real pride of breeders!

Black peony varieties

  1. Black pearl (Hei hai bo tao)
  2. Black Panther
  3. Black hydrangea (Hei xiu qiu)
  4. Black gloss (Wu jin yao hui)
  5. Dragon (Wu Long Peng Sheng)
  6. Black Crown (Guan Shi Mo Yu)
  7. Bob
  8. Dark Eyes.

They differ in the duration and time of flowering, the shape and structure of the bud.

What is the difference between tree peonies and herbaceous ones?

Experienced flower growers are well aware that peonies are of two types: tree-like and herbaceous. The difference between them is immediately striking - this is the size and firmness of the stem. Treelike are shrubs, their trunks can look quite impressive, they have a brownish woody tint typical of shrub trunks. The herbaceous variety has a softer green stem.

Interestingly, black varieties can be both tree-like and herbaceous. And there are also hybrids. This means that such a hybrid was bred by crossing tree and herbaceous varieties. Hybrids can have a wide variety of properties. Let's get acquainted in more detail with the most prominent representatives of the magnificent family of black kings of the flower bed.

Black Pearl (Hei hai bo tao)

One of the most widespread and favorite varieties of flower growers is Black Pearl, or Hei hai bo tao in Chinese. It is believed that this is one of the best options if you evaluate the appearance, unpretentiousness, and showiness of the buds. It is no coincidence that this variety has the Chinese version of the name! It belongs to the Sino-European hybrids.

  • compact, rounded bush
  • bush diameter up to 1 m
  • terry, velvet petals with a glossy shine
  • flower diameter - from 12 to 15 cm
  • profuse flowering from mid-season
  • the petals are maroon.

Black Panther

The impressive name "Black Panther" has a tree-like peony with large, very dark buds. The core is golden, and this only gives the plant an even more elegant look. This color emphasizes the depth of the chocolate color of the bud.

The main characteristics of the magnificent "Panther":

  • height up to 1.5 m
  • semi-double petals, corrugated
  • diameter - 18 cm
  • belongs to the tree species.

"Black hydrangea" (Hei xiu qiu)

"Black hydrangea" is of the herbaceous type. Has a beautiful dark purple hue. Country of origin - China.

  • flowers in the form of a ball
  • diameter - 14 cm
  • medium flowering variety.

Black Gloss (Wu jin yao hui)

The magnificent beauty "Black Gloss" has silky wine-colored buds, while the petals at the base are dark purple.

  • height of an adult plant: 2 m
  • flowers up to 18 cm in diameter
  • high frost resistance: up to -35 ° С.

Dragon (Wu Long Peng Sheng)

This is a Chinese hybrid, which is what its name tells us. A tree-like peony, which is distinguished by the height of the trunk and a unique shade of flowers - dark red, with a lavender tint.

  • the buds are very large, up to 25 cm
  • cup-shaped flower
  • height about 2 m
  • the plant has a pronounced aroma.

Sacred Mountain (Wu Long Tan Hai)

"Sacred Mountain" refers to Sino-European hybrids. It has large, very double petals of a rich dark purple hue.

  • belongs to herbaceous peonies
  • the plant grows rapidly
  • has crown-shaped flowers
  • late flowering begins in mid-summer.


"Sable" refers to interspecific hybrids. Flowers are simple in shape, with wide petals. Sable is a champion because it has the darkest shade possible.

What you need to know about the variety:

  • leaves are medium green, large
  • bud size up to 17 cm
  • bush height up to 110 cm.

Black Crown (Guan Shi Mo Yu)

Included in the category of the darkest varieties.

  • has buds up to 17 cm in diameter
  • the petals are colored deep purple
  • winter-hardy hybrid, requires shelter only in very cold winters.


"Bob" is distinguished by rather large flowers of a dark purple hue, with silvery highlights.

  • height up to 60 cm.
  • diameter - 22 cm.
  • double or semi-double petals.

Dark Eyes

The variety with the meaningful name "Dark Eyes" (black eyes) has a unique dark chocolate shade. He has an interesting feature - burgundy-golden staminodes.

  • height up to 90 cm
  • diameter - 20 cm
  • semi-double petals.

Reproduction methods

Reproduction is possible only after three years from the date of planting.

  1. The selected plant is carefully drilled in, after having tied the stems.
  2. Then they take it out and wash the rhizome properly.
  3. Then the shoots are cut to 5-7 cm.
  4. Before dividing, you need to consider the root system. Bad roots must be removed.
  5. Places of cuts are treated with charcoal.
  6. After that, the roots are divided or cut off with a sharp peg.

It is important to remember that for a good adaptation of a peony, it is necessary to have buds on the neck of the root and several leaves on the stem.

And you can also divide the plant by layers. To do this, you need to press down the shoots from the bushes to the ground and sprinkle them with fertilized soil.

Wintering tree peonies

Grafted purchased plants need a mandatory shelter for the winter. Without the habit of frost in the first 2-3 years, they can freeze over. Therefore, fragile branches are tied neatly with twine and covered with burlap, or several layers of spunbond, or cardboard and covered with snow on top. You can build a hut from spruce branches.

Treelike peony bushes are large in size, so they are planted one at a time or in very small groups. They look good against the background of a monotonous green hedge. Planted next to a bench for relaxation, the peony will delight not only with lush flowers: even after flowering, it does not lose its decorative effect due to the cut leaves of a beautiful color.

Large, charming, fragrant flowers of all kinds of shades will certainly attract the attention of hosts and guests, delight and delight with their regal appearance and luxurious flowering.