If you love peony flowers, the tree peony (牡丹 Mudan) is the perfect plant to grow. Peonies are one of America’s most popular flowers. However, the ones you get from the florist or nursery are not grown on the tree peony, but rather its cousin, the herbaceous peony plant.
Despite what the name may say, tree peonies are not actually trees– they are shrubs. ‘Woody peony’ is another more accurate name for the plants. These shrubs can grow between 3 to 7 feet tall and produce gorgeous peony flowers that can be 8 to 10 inches in diameter. The flowers are much larger than the usual peonies you get from common herbaceous peony plants.
The tree peony is native to China and known for its gorgeous bloom of fragrant white, red, pink, purple, or yellow flowers.
Growing a Tree Peony
Growing a tree peony is a commitment. These plants need lots of space and take at least three years to start blooming.
If you want to cultivate these shrubs, it’s best to plant them in the fall. Most of the time, nurseries graft cuttings from mature shrubs onto rootstock to produce new plants. You could grow one from seeds, or purchase a peony seedling that has already been growing, but peonies don’t always do too well when transplanted.
Woody peonies cannot be planted in pots. They need a sunny spot ideally with some dappled shade to help maximize their blooming time. The flowers typically bloom for 7-10 days in late spring or early summer.
This comprehensive guide to growing and caring for tree peonies can help you with every step of the process.
Once you have a full-grown, flowering woody peony, you can cut the impressive flowers and sell them to florists for bouquets. You can also sell the plant cuttings to nurseries for grafting.