Peonies + what????

GKelly9787(Z5 IL)September 29, 2005

I love my peonies, despite the short bloom season, the ants and the staking but I would love to see another bloom among the leaves for the rest of the summer. Has anyone ever layered another bulb in with the peony bulbs so that it blooms after the peonies have faded?

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I have daffodils planted around peonies for the early bloom in one bed (peony also hide daffs foliage after they are done) and in another bed I have clematis that I let go where it want to go, on peony included.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2005 at 11:41PM
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linden_ab(AB Canada z3)

Do you have room to plant perennials or small shrubs between your peonies? I have quite a few peonies in a bed , mixed with hardy shrub roses. the roses tend to bloom all summer after the peonies are finished. Or there are so many other perennials, it is hard to know where to start. jacob's ladder is very pretty, blooms a long time and will have some rebloom if sheared, perennial statice is late, lovely and airy, also nice mixed with the roses,brunnera, very pretty and light, coral bells, astrantia, just some suggestions. As far as bulbs go, can't think of many, perhaps something like acidanthera ? Don't know if it would be strong enough tocompetewith the peony. Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2005 at 4:09PM
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The garden designer Russell Page liked to have beds of peonies by themselves, say, flanking a gate -- with a few other imposing flowers that bloomed at the same time: namely iris germanica and columbine. In other words, he planted things that bloomed before and after the peonies elsewhere, though not far away -- for example in beds of pink daylilies and blue catananche at right angles to the peony beds. He has a point, since peonies do grow into large bush mounds of green that take up a lot of space when not in bloom.

For myself, I think they look even better with rugosa roses, which bloom at the same time and in the same palette, than with hybrid teas and their relations.

However, I am not in a position to follow these kinds of rules myself, because I am short of space, time, and labor -- and also like to have a little of everything. So I lumped the peonies together (only two are really big and thriving, so far), and for their immidiate companions planted iris, sweet william, forget-me-not, campanula media (biennial cup-and-saucer), and baptisia. I was aiming for a nostalgic, story book effect, but I think I will have to wait a few years since some of the things are rather scrawny.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2005 at 2:42PM
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laurelin(z5a/4b Upstate NY)

I've got my peonies mixed in among my perennials and shrubs (it sounds too grandiose to call them my "mixed borders" in my modest suburban yard!). Behind the peonies in one bed I have lilacs, rose of sharon, butterfly bush, and mock orange. Around those peonies('Bo Peep,' 'Philippe Rivoire,' 'Chiffon Clouds,' 'Mischief') I have Siberian iris, daylilies 'Ida Miles,' 'So Lovely,' and 'Sunday Gloves,' malva 'Zebrina' and 'Brave Heart,' nicotiana 'Lime Green,' snapdragon 'Rocket White,' zinnia 'Profusion White' and 'Profusion Pink,' alyssum 'Carpet of Snow,' acidanthera, common garden (cooking) sage, sedum 'Ruby Glow,' TB iris 'Shining Waters,' and chrysanthemum 'Emperor of China,' all underplanted with various crocus and tulips and daffodils for spring color. In short, a little of everything in a cooler color scheme of blue/purple, pink/rose/crimson, white and pale yellow. I treat the peonies somewhat like shrubs, since their foliage is taller and nice into the fall most years (a little tatty this year due to some drought).

I'll be adding more peonies to my "hot" garden out back - I just received my Hollingsworth order (nice chunky roots with many eyes) - 'Early Glow,' 'Mahogany,' and 'Amalia Olson.' Those will be mixed with orange/red/yellow daylilies, bronze-leaved cannas, a (very young) lilac, oriental lily 'Avignon,' nasturtium 'Alaska,' zinnia 'Profusion White,' salvia 'Victoria,' nicotiana 'Lime Green,' cosmos 'Sonata White,' aster 'Raydon's Favorite,' rudbeckia 'Goldsturm,' liatris 'Floristan White,' aster 'Bluebird,' Siberian iris, peonies 'Polar King' and 'Couronne d'Or,' oakleaf hydrangea 'PeeWee,' a few dozen different TB and IB irises - in short, another mixed border. It's a very NEW mixed border - the peonies are new this year, but in a few years it should be very full.

Elsewhere in my yard I just added a peony ('Port Royale' - a deep crimson purple Japanese form) to a bed containing clematis 'Henryi,' TB iris 'Superstition,' heuchera 'Palace Purple,' some unnamed asters, and alyssum. If the iris, peony, and clematis bloom around the same time, it should be lovely.

As long as something enjoys similar cultural conditions as peonies, give it a try. Remember microclimates - my long hot bed is dry at one end (no peonies there) and shady at its other extreme end (no peonies there either), so the peonies are grouped where they like it best (full sun, old vegetable garden area with deep, rich soil and good drainage). As you look along the border, you'll see the peonies, but they're not the main subject. I have too many favorites, so no bed is dedicated to one kind of plant.


    Bookmark   October 11, 2005 at 10:03AM
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john_4b(z4b WI)

I planted tall oriental Lilies. The bulbs can be planted in between and around the peonies, and they will come up after the peonies have bloomed and bloom over the top of the peonies. They don't take much room, and the peonies will shade the roots of the lilies, while the flowers will open above the peony foliage. It kind of extends the seasonal color in that part of the garden border. When the lilies are done I can cut back their stems to the height of the peony foliage until fall when it all gets cut down after frost.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2005 at 4:27PM
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Mozart2(Zone 5 Michigan)


john_4b has given you an excellent suggestion.

In addition to his superb recommendation, especially so since lily bulbs "enjoy" cool roots, you might consider the following plants depending upon the color of your peonies, their position in the garden and the amount of space around them.

I recently planted "Chestine Gowdy" as a "centerpiece" in one section of my patio garden (here's her photograph - - it may appear a little light in coloration on your monitor) and decided to flank her by two Phillippe Rivoire's on either side with some space between all three peonies - "room to play" (here's his picture - -

again he may also appear a little light in coloration on your monitor).

Since I have enough space behind the three peonies, I decided to add two Phlox paniculata 'Mount Fuji' just behind and between "Chestine" and Phillippe" on both sides - one on the left side as well as one on the right side. I choose this plant, because I wanted to also attract butterflies and hummingbirds and have some fragrance in the garden later in the season. Here's a photograph of this Phlox and some information about it, which can be found through the wonderful search tool listed below.

Since I also have some space in front of these three peonies, I may also plant Geranium sanguineum 'Max Frei', which I recently "discovered" at a rural garden center. As you will note in looking/reading the information at the link below, this hardy Geranium has many fine qualities - one of which is the fall color of its leaves - a very nice rose to slightly maroon wine red.

Another very interesting Geranium that I might consider adding to this section in place of "Max Frei" is Geranium sanguineum 'Album'. You'll note that this hardy Geranium not only also has red colored leaves in the autumn/fall, but that is also has leaves which are fragrant - thus adding another interesting attribute.

Here's the link to this Geranium.

Hope all of these responses provide you with great artistic inspiration.


Here is a link that might be useful: Missouri Botanical Garden - Plant Finder - Search

    Bookmark   October 25, 2005 at 8:14PM
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I disagree about mixing the oriental lilies and peony on two reasons.

First, peony likes an alkaline soil...well, slightly leaning to alkaline...not too high in the pH.
Oriental lilies DO enjoy an acid soil and you are directed to make it so with the addition of peat moss and other acid holding measures.

Peony, sooner or later, and they do enjoy remaining in their set position, but...divide them must be in their future. What happens when you cut into the clump and you meet up with a bulb other than the peony.

But I should add though, O Lilies are a great addition to any garden.....and so is what I have next to my peonies...Oriental Poppies. (I kid people by suggesting its my Afghanistan-like lover for reminding them that the poppy is also a flower).

Many varieties of lilium can be spaced to bloom at selected times. (I'd stay away from daylilies)

Many anemone bloom just about prior to and after peony.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2005 at 12:18PM
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Okay, I am reviving this thread, because although I was not the OP, I myself have been looking to answer this one about as long as since this was first posted, and I still haven't found the perfect answer. First, let me say that my situation is beds with ONLY peonies in them (very well established, don't-want-to-mess-up-a good-thing established). I am not looking for a mixed bed, just a nice companion to the peonies. Most of my peonies are herbaceous, but there are a couple tree peonies. Second, I do NOT want something that competes with the peonies in their short but spectacular bloom time. Third, they are in beds with an 8" high brick border. Lastly, obviously I don't want something that will disturb the peonies themselves or otherwise diminish their health.

I was thinking maybe an Iberis, or Aster ericoides 'Snow Flurry', or an evening primrose, or even a hardy plumbago.
Does anyone know if any of those would be a viable choice or if there is a really good companian plant for peonies that I am missing. Any other ideas would be appreciated.


    Bookmark   March 10, 2009 at 5:06PM
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Thyme2dig NH Zone 5

How deep is your border. I have a border of peonies on either side of my front steps up to the porch. The borders are 6 feet in depth and I packed the plants in.

In front of the peonies I planted East Friesland salvia and then recently added Blue Hill salvia (which I find is a bit of a thug compared to East Friesland). There is some low sweet william mixed in front as well. I had enough room to put tall asters behind the peonies for some fall interest. They look great with the bronze peony leaves. I also let any columbine volunteers stay in that bed and a few goldenrod volunteers. Over the past few years I have also been planting a lot of Verbena bonariensis amongst them.

I did have lots of oriental lilies before the asters, but the lily beetles drove me nuts, and then I found out the chipmunks were shimmying up the lilies and biting off the buds. Enough was enough. I dug them out and gave them all away. I prefer the asters to the lilies just because the bed has some interest for most of the year. In this picture the peonies are just going out and the salvia is still going strong. The blue color is beautiful with the peony bloom and does not distract at all from the peonies. At my old house I also had iberis planted with the salvia and peonies which was beautiful.

If you have a very deep border, baptisia is gorgeous with peonies.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 8:46PM
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