1.Suffruticosa  Tree Poeny (Chinese Tree Peony )

Suffruticosa is one of the largest and most well known classifications of tree peonies. This group is also referred to as the Central Plains group of tree peonies as they derive from the Central Plains of China. There is incredible genetic diversity in this type of tree peony. They come in colors that include all ranges of white, pink, magenta and dark maroon (they tend not to produce good yellow, oranges, or true reds). Their flower florm is also incredibly diverse and includes single, lotus, chrysanthemum, rose, crown and bomb. The leaves range in shape from medium to round/orbicular and they very tremendiously in leaf color. Suffruticosa cultivars tend to have outstanding fragrance. See our section below on Chinese Tree Poeny for more informaiton on flower color, form and leaf shape.

Most of the tree peonies in our catalog come from this group so we tend not to note it specifically. Insead we specify when they differ from this and note them as Gansu or Lutea Tree peonies.

2.Paeonia Rockill (Gansu tree peonies)

Gansu tree peonies are a subset of the suffruticosa group that are distinguished by their purple flare at the center of the flower. These incredibly hardy plants are from the Gansu region of China. The are often referred to as Rockii peonies as Joseph Rock helped to make them famous outside of China. These plants are very fast growing for tree peonies and become quite large, up to 7 feet tall. This group has thin billowy leaves that give a more informal appearance. They tend to cross pollinate and produce wonderful seeds that can be grown into new cultivars.

These plants are of special significance to those in horticultural zones 2-3 as they are more cold tolerant . They are also particularly useful in areas with little direct sun as they flower profusely even with little light. The gansu peonies at Peony's Envy tend to benefit tremendously from this fact as the areas they are in can be quite shady.

3.Japanese Tree peony 


Lutea, sometimes referred to as Delavayi, is a species of tree peony from Tibet that has a bright canary-yellow flower. The flower is pendulous and so some of the cultivars and hybrids that derive from this species have flowers that have tendency to face downward. The main attraction of this group is their unique flower coloring. They bring wonderful yellow, gold, and orange, sunset peonies to the garden. These plants are later to bloom than other tree peonies, tend to be lower growing, and have leaf coverage that is more spreading. These plants are not as cold hardy as the other two tree peony groups. In cold winters or in cold zones, Lutea tree peonies will die back to the ground in winter, but will reemerge beautifully from the root in spring.


Of special note is that lutea hybrids are the main tree peony group that has been used to create the intersectional peony hybrids - intersectional peonies have inherited the wonderful colors of the lutea hybrids.

4.Herbaceous Peony 

Herbaceous peonies are a special subset of herbaceous peony that is actually a hybrid, or cross, between two different herbaceous peonies peregrina & lactiflora. This cross has produced unique colors not often found in traditional peonies. The unique characteristics of these hybrids are that they have just one flower on a rather sturdy stem. This makes them excellent cut flowers and amazing garden plants as they remain upright in the garden without staking.

The color of coral peonies changes dramatically as they open - as you can see in the above picture of Coral Charm. The flowers begin a deep coral bud and then fade to cream as they open. This results in plants that have incredibly interesting colorways. We especially like corals when they are planted en masse.

Coral peonies have the added benefit of being the first herbaceous peonies to bloom. This early flowering time makes them not only ideal for cool climates, zones 3-6, but for zones 7&8 in the south as well.