Are there any peonies that will tolerate shade?

doinfinFebruary 23, 2008

I have a heavily wooded yard and would love to try peonies but am afraid that they would not do well. Are there any varieties that would be worth trying? I live about an hour south of DC.

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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

Just like roses in shade, they will grow but the amount of bloom will limited and the incidence of disease will be increased. Tree peonies will do better in shady conditions than herbaceous. Al

    Bookmark   February 24, 2008 at 6:42PM
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peonyman(Zone 5, Lawrence, Ks)


I have never grown it but there is one species of herbaceous peony that necessarily must be grown in shade. This is Paeonia japonica. I think it is somewhat a woodland peony. I also believe Glaucidium palmatum, which in the same family with peonies, requires shade. It appears to me that neither of these plants are very "peony-like".

Tree peonies do appreciate some afternoon shade in that it will help the flowers to last longer. They still need to get 5 hours of sun or so per day to bloom well.


    Bookmark   February 25, 2008 at 12:37AM
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Thanks for the input and help! I will see if I can find some to try... say a prayer for them! :)

    Bookmark   March 1, 2008 at 9:20PM
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olgaflowers(8 - DFW)

I would at least try the early varieties
try and beat the trees before they get their leaves.
Good Luck, Olgaflowers

    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 1:13PM
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Zhi Hong, is a shade loving peony.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 4:25PM
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I've been growing peonies for years in the dappled shade of tall old deciduous oaks. They do get short, intermittent periods of full sun. As mentioned, they don't flower or increase in size as much as those that get more sun, but they're a joy nonethless. They have been pest-free and the only disease I've seen is the ubiquitous powdery mildew, which is only aesthetic - it does not harm the plant (hasn't done so in over 10 years). There are home remedies and commercial products that are supposed to control PM, but I haven't tried any yet so cannot attest as to effectiveness.

Consider the fact that your peonies may be competing with tree roots for nutrients and water - you may want to adjust your soil prep and maintenance schedule accordingly.

Also consider the type of trees/shade you have. For example, the dappled shade of trees like oaks, especially if they've been limbed-up, is considerably different than the heavy shade of maples (which are also notoriously shallow-rooted). And, on the outside chance you have black walnut in there, remember that they give off a substance, juglone, that inhibits the growth of many other plants.

All-in-all, give the peonies a try. Choose the most shade-tolerant variety you can find and go from there. Good luck!


    Bookmark   March 21, 2008 at 11:36AM
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If you see pictures of species peonies they are almost always under or near the dripline of trees and bushes. Red peonies do best in partial shade because the red coloration traps the heat causing the flowers to mature more quickly.

The tree peony Fen Dan Bai, to me looks best in dappled shade.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2008 at 9:16PM
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lynnt(Z7 MD)

paeonia obovata (woods peony) is another shade-grower --- single pink or white blossoms in real sahde.


    Bookmark   March 25, 2008 at 4:31PM
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japaneese peonies not only grow well in the shade, they require it. Be advised that most of them have very delicate flowers and should be placed where they are protected from winds lest ye lose the blooms before ye get to see them.
I was very discouraged the first year mine bloomed because I didn't heed my advice and a April wind blew the petals off the first day they opened. ARRRGGGGHHH. I planted some yews upwind of them to give them some shelter and all is well now.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 7:27PM
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We have grown a species tree peony called P. lutea var. ludlowii (now known simply as P. ludlowii) in part shade for many years, where it has thrived. It receives mainly morning sun, and we have relatively cool summers.

It is not as showy a plant as other varieties, but it does have very unique foliage and gets to be a handsome shrub like specimen.


    Bookmark   April 12, 2008 at 10:28AM
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I too have a relatively shady East-facing yard. Does anyone know where I can buy Zhi Hong as it's the only shade loving peony?

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 11:22AM
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squirejohn zone4 VT

What amount of sun/ shade does "Molly the Witch" prefer?

    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 6:16AM
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You can buy P. Japonica (shade loving white Japanese Peony) at or at I have not tried either so this is just information and not an endorsement.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 1:14PM
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