When Do Peonies Bloom?

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Deep pink peony Kansas plant in full bloom
Rich pink Kansas peonies have graced gardens for 80+ years. Remarkably, an individual plant can live that long.

Love peonies and can’t wait for their glorious flower to appear? So when, exactly, do peonies bloom?

The simple answer is that herbaceous peonies flower in the late spring to early summer.  We live in a huge country so it stands to reason that there will be some variation.

Peony bloom timing is driven by the following three variables.

1. Geography Affects When Peonies Bloom

Spring’s warmth triggers sprouting, growth and blooming for peonies. Where warmer temperatures arrive earlier, peonies flower earlier.

Deep red peony sprouts emerging from the soil in spring
Colorful pink to red peony herbaceous sprouts are easy to spot in the spring garden.

So, those first fabulous peonies always flower weeks sooner in Memphis than they do in Minneapolis or Missoula.

And, if you happen to live in a mountainous area, you likely know that altitude effects temperate. And this, in turn, influences plant growth rates. In higher altitude areas, temperatures tend to be colder. Because of this, high altitude peonies often flower several weeks later than nearby ones at lower altitudes.

2. Peony Variety Impacts Bloom Timing

Blooming time varies by peony cultivar.  Look for this information as you consider varieties.  Typically, peony bloom windows are listed as “early, “early-mid”, “mid-season”, “mid-late” and “late”.   These details are most useful as a relative measure, to help determine which of several choice is likely to flower first, second, etc.

For instance, choose varieties to extend the flowering season up to six weeks by planting early, mid and late blooming cultivars. Or select peonies that all bloom at the same time for a dramatic seasonal display.

Also, note that some peony cultivars produce more side buds than others. Selecting these varieties (look for mentions in descriptions) lengthens the bloom period by a few days.

Be aware that the available peony bloom time information can be conflicting, confusing or simply incorrect. For the most accurate flowering information, rely on the experts at the American Peony Society.

3. Micro Climates Exert Subtle Influences  

Heirloom peony Myrtle Gentry, a double white beauty, flowering in garden.
Fluffy heirloom peony Myrtle Gentry smells as fabulous as she looks.

In many landscapes, micro climates exist. These are temperature pockets where the soil and air are a few degrees warmer or colder than the surrounding sites.

South- and west-facing stone or brick walls tend to gather the sun’s heat and create micro climates. After the sun sets, the  wall’s collected heat keeps the adjacent soil a bit warmer for several hours. The slightly toastier zone prompts peonies planted there to sprout and flower sooner. Yes, just a few degrees can matter.

Micro climates help explain why two peonies of the same variety – one planted near a brick wall and one elsewhere in the yard – may begin flowering a week or more apart.

First Blooms by Growing Zone

Spring temperature vary a bit each year. And with those variations, first blooms do, too. Keeping this in mind, here’s a guide for when the earliest peonies typically begin flowering by growing/hardiness zones. (If this super useful concept is unfamiliar, get the inside scoop here: What’s My Growing/Hardiness Zone? )

  • Zone 8      early to mid-April
  • Zone 7      mid to late April
  • Zones 6 & 5      early to mid-May
  • Zones 4 & 3      late May to mid-June

(We don’t recommend planting peonies in zone 9 because with their winter cold requirements, success here is iffy at best.)

Coral colored peonies are among the first to flower
Coral colored peonies, because of their unusual genetics, are among the first to flower.

Individual peony plants flower for about 10 to 12 days, heavily influenced by the weather. Cool weather extends the blooms, whereas hot days shorten it. Cultivars with numerous side buds also flower for longer, as the blooms open in succession.

Give in to your love of peonies and look forward to about a month and a half of blooms each spring. It just take a little planning. And you’ll reap the rewards for years.

Make this the season you select and plant early, mid-season and late flowering peonies!

Then savor stunning spring gardens. Endless bouquets. And a deliciously perfumed blossom by your bed to guarantee sweet dreams.

Rejoice in a lifetime of glorious peony blooms!  These babies live 75+ years!

 

Find spring planted peonies here: Spring Peony Selection

Find fall planted peonies here: Fall Peony Selection

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