Garden News Blog

These Herbaceous Peonies Smell as Good as They Look

The herbaceous peonies are in bloom at BBG!

Over the past few weeks we've been treated to a spectacular display of enormous tree peony blooms. Now that they're gone, visitors seeking big, beautiful, and fragrant flowers should check out the herbaceous peonies in the Plant Family Collection.

So what's an easy way to differentiate between a Paeonia suffruticosa (tree peony) and a P. lactiflora (herbaceous peony)? The herbaceous peony dies to the ground in winter and prefers full sun, while the tree peony prefers part shade and has woody stems that remain in winter.

BBG's north section Plant Family Collection curator, Michael Mauro, suggests that visitors keep a special eye out over the next couple of weeks for yellow or yellow-orange blooms, indicating some of the more rare cultivars of herbaceous peonies. The herbaceous peony bed (located near the center of the northern Plant Family Collection) now has 70 plants, some in full bloom and others to follow shortly. They don't last too long, so come soak up their glory now, and be sure to bring your camera!

Morrigan McCarthy is a writer and photographer living in Brooklyn, New York.

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Image, top of page:
Paeonia officinalis 'Rosea Plena' (herbaceous peony) in the Plant Family Collection. Photo by Morrigan McCarthy.
Paeonia 'Convoy' (herbaceous peony) in the Plant Family Collection. Photo by Morrigan McCarthy.
Paeonia lactiflora 'Top Brass' (herbaceous peony) in the Plant Family Collection. Photo by Morrigan McCarthy.
Paeonia 'Frosted Pink' (herbaceous peony) in the Plant Family Collection. Photo by Morrigan McCarthy.
BBG's Herbaceous peonies are a draw for photographers. Photo by Morrigan McCarthy.
Paeonia 'Eventide' (herbaceous peony) in the Plant Family Collection. Photo by Morrigan McCarthy.
Paeonia 'Coral Surpreme' (herbaceous peony) in the Plant Family Collection. Photo by Morrigan McCarthy.
Herbaceous peonies in the Plant Family Collection. Photo by Morrigan McCarthy.