Articles about Peony companions
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Thursday, December 23, 2021

2021 Peony Companions Dianthus

Peony 'Lady Alexandra Duff' and Hot Pink & Red Dianthus

Dianthus are a great companion for peonies, especially here in the South, as most of my dianthus come back every year. Sometimes one or two of them will give out (usually from the hot summer heat), but most of the time they are perennial flowers for me. Dianthus seem to keep their roots pretty shallow, so they won't compete too much with the super deep roots of the peonies. Dianthus also come in so many colors from solid fire engine red to white to pink (hence their nickname "Pinks") to even pinky lavenders! There are also many varieties of bi-color Dianthus, with pretty patterns on the petals too!

White Single Peony and White Dianthus

Another great thing about Dianthus is that many garden centers sell them each spring as annuals, for a relatively inexpensive price! If you live in the South and haven't given Dianthus a try yet, you should definitely consider planting some this upcoming spring. In my garden my dianthus plants usually have a huge spring flush of flowers on the plant, but then the blooms keep coming (although fewer of them) all the way up to frost for me. (Although the plants do look a bit more worn as the season goes on, it is still nice to see some continuous spots of color in the garden!) You may remember the white peony and white dianthus from my 2019 White Peonies En Masse in Front of the House article. Writing this post makes me think where else can I tuck a few more "Pinks" (aka Dianthus) into my own garden this spring? ;-)

Peony 'Lady Alexandra Duff' and Hot Pink & Red Dianthus

Sunday, November 4, 2018

2018 Beautiful Fall Burgundy Peony Foliage Colors & Coral Drift Rose

I couldn't help but snap a picture of this gorgeous deep burgundy fall peony foliage with the contrast of the bright coral colored drift rose blooming nearby. I've been cleaning up the garden this fall, cutting back my peony foliage for the year, and I couldn't keep my eyes off of this pretty pair. These two fall friends gleamed in the sun from across the garden. As I came in for a closer look and to snap a photo, the leaves of the peony plant rustled, and I noticed a small lizard happily using the peony leaves as a perch. I snapped a photo of him too. He was a little scared of me, and jumped back onto a peony stem a bit farther away, but he didn't run away. He let me take several shots of him, and even looked right at me on one of the shots! What a cutie. I hope that you too are taking a little time to enjoy autumn's colors and our wildlife friends out in the fall garden! Happy Fall!

Coral Drift Rose & Peony with Burgundy Fall Foliage

Burgundy Fall Peony Foliage

Coral Drift Rose

Lizard on Fall Peony Foliage

Sunday, September 2, 2018

2018 Peony Companion Plants Tall Garden Phlox Paniculata

Phlox Paniculata 'Peacock White'

Garden Phlox is a great tall summer blooming perennial plant to sneak into your peony beds to give them color long after your peony blooms have faded. Phlox Paniculata (Garden Phlox) is the taller variety of phlox. There is also Phlox subulata (Creeping Phlox) which is generally more common in my area. However both of them will grow equally well here, and Garden Phlox makes a taller plant that will show off well around your peony bushes when they are no longer in bloom. Also Garden Phlox comes in a wide range of colors to suit any color palette - hot pinks, pale pinks, oranges, purples, lavenders, and whites.

Pink Garden Phlox

The really great thing about Garden Phlox is that it will bloom all summer long. It starts blooming around the first of June here (just about the time peonies have finished blooming) and goes well into September or October. Usually it will have a first huge flush of flower heads and then keep up it's blooming here and there until fall. If you'd rather have another flush of flower heads, you can deadhead all of the flower heads, and the plant will regrow new ones (trying to make seeds for reproduction). This will give you another round of fresh flowers on the plants.

Phlox of Many Colors - Pink, Pale Pink, & Coral

Since Garden Phlox gets started blooming just as your peonies are finishing, it makes a great plant to add some color to your peony beds. Just be careful to give it enough space. Phlox plants can grow about as large as a peony. So don't plant them too close to your peonies, so they don't compete with your peony plants for water and nutrients. Give them enough space to do their thing, and they will be a happy (and colorful) companion to your peonies (for years and years)! Also since Phlox does produce seed, you may want to remove the seed heads in the fall to prevent reproduction (or leave them if you'd like a few new colors of baby Phlox plants to add to your garden).

White and Lavender Tall Garden Phlox
Growing in Peony Garden

Saturday, April 21, 2018

2018 Tree Peony Companions Azaleas

Tree Peony 'Angel Emily' with White Azalea

If you don't grow azaleas, you are definitely missing out. Azaleas are easy to grow bushes that don't require any extra care. They grow well in zones 5-8. So they have a pretty wide growing range. They are loaded with blooms in early spring, and with so many colors to choose from, you are sure to find one that fits in your garden. There's white, pink, coral, red, lavender, yellow, and all colors in between! They typically like to be grown in half shade/half sun. If you plant them in too much shade, they won't bloom well (just like tree peonies). So a little more sun is better.

Tree Peony 'Angel Emily' with White Azalea

They also bloom around the same time as tree peonies, thus making the perfect brilliant backdrop for your favorite tree peonies. Pictured here is a common white azalea (purchased quite inexpensively as a very small bush many years ago) with Tree Peony 'Angel Emily'. I just love the gorgeous lavender pink blooms of Tree Peony 'Angel Emily', which contrast well with the bright white blooms of the large azalea. If you don't yet grow azaleas, now's your chance to plant a very low maintenance shrub that grows larger and blooms abundantly (without any help from me) every year!
Tree Peony 'Angel Emily' with White Azalea

Saturday, April 7, 2018

2018 Peony Companions Daffodils

Peony 'Soft Lemon Kisses' with Daffodil 'Sunlight Sensation'

I'm sure many of you have daffodils as a companion with your peonies. If you don't then you should definitely consider planting some daffodil bulbs this fall. Daffodils can be an entertaining distraction while you are waiting for those peony blooms to open. They are also super easy to grow. Just dig a hole, mix in some fertilizer, put the bulbs in the bottom of the hole (spaced out), and then replace the dirt. These beautiful and easy bulbs are very reliable and will come back year after year.

Peony 'Color Magnet' with Daffodil 'Cheerfulness'

If you get lucky enough, you may even have some daffodils and very early peonies or tree peonies to bloom at the same time. There are some summer blooming varieties of daffodil like 'Summer Cheer' that will bloom later than other daffodils as well. Daffodils nowadays are not just the yellow flower that your great-grandma grew. There are so many forms, shapes, sizes, and colors to choose from now - from lemon yellows, to white, to yellow with orange, to white with pink and double daffodils, butterfly daffodils, miniature daffodils, to daffodils with multiple blooms per stem. Have fun picking out some early spring colorful cheerfulness!

Peony 'Pehrson's Violet Frisbee' with Double Daffodil 'Tahiti'

Friday, March 16, 2018

2018 Peony Companions Hyacinth Bulbs

I must say when I saw these pale pink hyacinths playing so nicely together with the new burgundy colored foliage of my Intersectional Peony 'Bartzella', I just had to snap a photo. I must admit that hyacinths are my favorite spring bulb, ever. (***So I'm not biased at all here.) But I really do think that hyacinths make great companions for peonies. It doesn't hurt that deer (or most any other animal) won't touch hyacinths. Hyacinths bloom a bit earlier in the season than peonies. So you get some nice candy colored blooms before your peonies are ready to flower, and the flower clusters of the hyacinths get a chance to play with the up and coming peony foliage. What a beautiful combination.

Pale Pink Hyacinth with Peony 'Bartzella' New Foliage

Hyacinth bulbs only last a few years for me here in the South. So you will likely have to replant them after a few years, but to me they are worth it! There are so many colors of hyacinths to choose from - all shades of pink, lavender-blue, deep purple, coral, pale yellow, white, purple-black. The color options are almost endless. If hyacinths aren't your thing, there are many other spring bulbs to choose from to get your garden flowering long before the peonies pop! If you'd like to see some of our other ideas for peony companions, check them out here: Peony Companions.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

2016 Peony Companion Plant Bearded Iris

Peony 'Lovely Rose' and Bearded Iris 'Harvest of Memories'

Okay. So maybe this one is an obvious choice, but peonies and irises not only grow well together but bloom well together. I just couldn't resist snapping the photo below of my Peony 'Goldilocks' blooming alongside by 'Bewilderbeast' irises last year. I have a small collection of broken color bearded irises growing near my garden bench along with several special peony selections. Peony 'Goldilocks' is a rare yellow colored herbaceous peony. There are several varieties of yellow intersectional peonies and yellow tree peonies, but yellow herbaceous peonies are much less common. For some reason the broken color 'zebra' irises appeal to me personally, but you can use any solid, bi-color, or multicolored bearded irises you choose. Since the peonies and irises bloom at the same time, you may want to consider complimentary or contrasting colored irises as companions to your peony varieties.

Peony 'Goldilocks' and Bearded Iris 'Bewilderbeast'

This year I caught a few other peony and iris beauties hanging out together. The contrast of the bold coral pink herbaceous Peony 'Lovely Rose' and the bright golden yellow blooms of the 'Harvest of Memories' bearded iris play nicely together. Another bonus that comes with the 'Harvest of Memories' bearded iris is reliable reblooming. This golden yellow iris' first blooms are in early spring, and it gets a second set of blooms again in fall. This bearded iris was still blooming through our first frost and beyond! I am really amazed with its flower power. :-) Peony 'Lovely Rose' is also a Southern Peony Best Performer. It was selected as a Southern Peony Best Performer in 2014, 2014 Peony 'Lovely Rose' Best Performer - Week 3, and has bloomed reliably every year since!

Peony 'Lovely Rose' and Bearded Iris 'Harvest of Memories'

No matter which bearded irises you choose to grow, you can be sure they will look great with your peonies. The heights of the standard German bearded irises are usually pretty close to the height of peonies, which will provide you will beautiful views and plenty of photo opportunities. With so many color combinations to create, the possibilities are almost endless. Now is also a great time of year to think about changes and additions you'd like to make to your garden next year. While you're stuck inside with the cold weather, there are so many catalogs of beautiful flowers to peruse online. If you already grow bearded irises as a companion plant to your peonies, I'd love to see what color combinations you've come up with. Feel free to send me any photos of peony and iris combos that you grow and would love to share. Happy Gardening!

Bearded Iris 'Tiger Honey' and Unknown Pink Herbaceous Peony

Thursday, November 10, 2016

2016 Peony Companion Chrysanthemum Garden Mums

I couldn't help but take this picture today. The gorgeous pink-purple mums really pop against the bright yellow fall foliage of my peony. It also reminds me that even in this dank darkness and degradation of fall, there is still light. There is still hope. Winter has yet to arrive, but Spring will always come again. If you don't yet grow any Chrysanthemum in your garden, you are missing out. Nothing else lights up the fall garden like Chrysanthemums, also known as Mums or Garden Mums. They are like lots of little, fluffy lollipops of color just bursting open come fall, and just like lollipops these blooms last a long, long time. These particular Mums in the photo have been blooming for weeks! Chrysanthemums are perennials that are usually hardy in Zones 4 through 8. So if you need some autumn pops of color, head to your local garden center for mums in all shades of reds, yellows, oranges, pinks, whites, and purples!

Peony with Yellow Fall Foliage and Pink-Purple Chrysanthemum

Saturday, August 13, 2016

2016 Peony Companions Coreopsis (Tickseed)

Wow! I have just discovered Coreopsis this year! What a wonderful plant! This particular variety is Coreopsis 'Garnet'. The bright medium pink flowers of this coreopsis pair well with the almost lime green foliage of Peony 'Gay Paree'. Also Coreopsis (also commonly known as Tickseed) flowers from summer to frost, which nicely fills the flower void left by peonies after spring time. Coreopsis comes in many colors - from yellow to pink to orange to red. There are also some double flowering varieties available in golden yellow colors as well. Coreopsis are generally hardy in growing zone 4-9. Since Coreopsis growing zones match up well with peony growing zones, they afford all peonies lovers the opportunity to grow them as companion plants.

Peony 'Gay Paree' and Coreopsis 'Garnet'

Friday, June 12, 2015

2015 Peony Companion Plants Japanese Iris

Peony Keiko 愛幕 (Adored) and Variegated Japanese Iris

Since planting my Monrovia Itoh Peony 'Keiko'™ 愛幕 (Adored) and the other Japanese named Monrovia Itoh peonies (Misaka 美 (Beautiful Blossom), Takara 慈悲 (Treasure), and Yumi 由美 (Possess Beauty)) in my Japanese garden in 2013, they have grown very nicely. These intersectional peonies make nice companions to the Japanese irises planted nearby and vice versa. The peonies are gorgeous when in bloom, and so are the irises.

Japanese Garden with Japanese Iris and Intersectional Peonies

Even though their bloom seasons do not intersect here, they make nice neighbors. The Japanese irises provide a spiky green backdrop for the large peony blossoms. The intersectional peonies provide a pleasing contrast of large lobed foliage with interesting green seed pods, which are left on the plant for interest after the peony blooms have faded. Since intersectional peonies almost never form seeds inside their seed pods, leaving the pods on the plant for interest will not expend any extra energy from the plant.

Intersectional Peony with Seed Pods and Japanese Iris

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

2015 Peony Companion Plants Amaryllis

Pink Peony with Red Amaryllis

I couldn't resist taking a photo of this early amaryllis and late peony blooming together. The bright pink peony was fading just as the pinky red amaryllis was opening, and they looked so gorgeous together. Amaryllis are usually hardy in growing zones 7-10. So Southern gardeners in particular can delight in naturalizing these bulbs with their peonies. If you're looking for a special bulb with enough size and height to plant between your peonies, take a closer look at Amaryllis. Their form and substance are strong and tall enough to compliment peonies without overpowering them. Also there are so many colors and forms of amaryllis to choose from these days, including reds, pinks, whites, and multicolored as well as single and double flower form varieties.

Red Amaryllis with Green Peony Foliage

Sunday, July 7, 2013

2013 Companion Plants for Peonies

Peonies and Oriental Lilies

I was thinking about how lovely these oriental lilies looked next to my peonies when I decided that might be a great topic to share - companion plants for peonies. Some other plants that I like to plant near my peonies are spring bloomers like irises, if you want to get some complimentary blooms. Or if you want to add some color to accent the gorgeous green summer foliage of peonies, tall summer blooming bulbs like lilies and gladioli are perfect complements to the medium height foliage of the peonies. I like to plant the lilies in between the roots of two peonies and maybe slightly behind. This has two purposes. One to give the lilies some support with the peony foliage in front of them, and two to hide the emerging lily shoot from the deer! I can't say this works all of the time, but in my yard it does work most years! I think that's the only reason I have lilies and hostas in my yard (because I surround them with peonies and hellebores!)

Peonies and Fairy Roses

Another summer blooming option for a companion plant to peonies is roses. One of my favorites is fairy roses. They're almost like knockout roses, except miniature. They bloom for months, and have several color options. I also like to plant daylilies near my peonies, just not too close. Daylilies form large storage roots underground just like peonies. So they would definitely be in competition if planted too close. Hellebores are another great companion plant to peonies, blooming at almost the opposite time of the year when peonies are in their rest cycle of winter. Hellebores would provide nice companion foliage during the peony bloom season and while they are going dormant, and lovely blooms while peonies are still asleep. These two should not be planted too close to peonies since they develop an extensive root system. So there are lots of plants that do well in the same light and soil conditions as peonies to keep the interest and color coming all year long!

Peonies with Daylilies and Hellebores