The Tree Peony is a slow growing shrub with a very long life. As the national flower of China, it is not uncommon to find plants there that are over 100 years old still producing hundreds of flowers each season. This shrub will outlive the gardener who plants it. If you are planning to add it to your garden, make certain that it is well placed for posterity.
Tree Peonies bloom two weeks earlier than ordinary peonies [that are really far from ordinary] and produce flowers ranging in size from 7 to 12 inches wide. Blooms are borne on woody stems that do not die back at season’s end and do not crack in heavy rain. Another contrast with ordinary peonies is that these flowers bloom in a wide range of exuberant, vivid colors that include bronze, yellow, purple, wine, and green.
This shrub will eventually grow to 3 or 7 feet tall and 4 to 5 feet wide depending on the cultivar, but that growth will take decades. It is hardy to zone 4 with winter protection. Place it in a well-drained location with a loose, deep soil with a pH of 6.5 and 7.5 in full sun to part shade. New shrubs should be planted in the fall, because, unlike any other plant we know, this one develops most of its roots in the autumn. Newly planted shrubs require a moist soil until they are about two years old. That is also the time when they will require pruning every spring. The tree peony needs fertilizing three times a year.
Because it develops so slowly, some cultivars of the Tree Peony can cost up to $300.00, although many are priced under $50.00 each. There is an extensive choice of flower styles and colors available from on line nurseries and specialty growers. Adding a tree peony to your garden design is treating yourself like royalty.