Must Have Red Peonies
What color is a red peony? Burgundy, cherry, raspberry, port wine, ruby, watermelon, merlot. All of these words could be used to describe a red peony, but is the color you receive going to be the color you imagined? Red is one of the hardest colors to describe, and get correct without the opportunity to see the real peony first. Let this be your guide to confidently select this notoriously challenging color of peonies.
The red peony against which all other red peonies are measured. Often described as deep ruby or burgundy in color, this peony is a true red. ‘Red Charm’ is bomb shaped with huge guard petals surrounding a soft ball of ruffled petals at the heart of the flower with no visible pollen or stamens. This variety is an early bloomer and treated as the signal of the beginning of the harvest season for peony growers. A beautiful addition to the garden with dark green, glossy foliage and shorter growth habits than other varieties. A 1956 American Peony Society Gold Medal winner, this peony is well known and loved across the globe.
A very full cardinal red bloom atop incredibly thick, sturdy stems with deep green foliage. A true red peony without visible stamens or pollen. Full 360 degree, very large bloom form. The buds often develop with the open form instead of a smooth tight ball, making it difficult to harvest at the correct stage. A light, sweet fragrance adds to this stunning variety. A true showstopper with its massive blooms and bright cherry red color. As an addition to the garden landscape it is not as bushy or tall as other herbaceous peonies and takes a little longer to reach full maturity, but these blooms are well worth the wait.
Paul M. Wild
‘Paul M Wild’ is a large, full double bloom with a velvety and frilly texture. This red peony holds its color throughout the entire vase life without fading and is complimented by a very enjoyable fragrance. Although a deep red, it is less burgundy and more raspberry in color pulling out the blue tones from its surroundings. It is especially beautiful with ‘Boule de Neige’ and ‘Festiva Maxima’, pulling out the modest red flecks. The smooth, tulip shaped bud and full double open bloom makes the shape of Paul M Wild an extremely attractive addition to your garden and the vase. This variety blooms later than other red peonies making it a great season extension for this eye-catching color.
A vivid and dazzling color. The magnitude of this bloom is sure to amaze. ‘Kansas’ made its grand entrance in 1940 and has since been awarded The American Home Achievement Medal in 1942 and the American Peony Society Gold Medal in 1957. ‘Kansas’ has been referred to as the Crown Jewel of Peonies and is often used in photographs due to its sparkling and effervescent color. Popular with floral designers for its long vase life and loved by many for its striking color. Large, double rose shaped blooms blooms are watermelon or deep fuchsia colored. Not a true red, but more of a bright, hot pink color. Some open with bright yellow stamens visible, others bloom without. A tall growing plant and prolific producer in the garden. A favorite option for that pop of color.
Raspberry red in color with a light fragrance, this peony fills that “something different” category when looking for a striking option. Similar in color to ‘Kansas’ with the blue undertones and vibrant red. Multiple different layers of petals overlay the beautiful yellow stamens in the center giving this peony extra personality. The buds are compact and small, blooming with fewer petals than other red peonies, but the highly saturated color of ‘Shawnee Chief’ commands attention in any use from event work to an elegant vase on the kitchen counter. A late season bloomer with compact growing habits allows this gem to be tucked into any small space of the garden that needs a bright pop of color once the other peonies have begun to fade.
‘Armani’ offers a deep burgundy red color and a light fragrance, a highly desirable combination! Black cherry blooms with ruffled, satiny petals for a very sophisticated look. As a bud, it closely resembles a rose bud shape and blooms with pollen filled stamens and hidden seed pods creating a dramatic addition to any arrangement. A very tall plant producing delicate blooms that open quickly with petals that tend to reflex back towards the stem as the bloom matures. This variety has a small bud that will open to a four inch bloom. As a cut flower, it will have the best vase life in a cool indoor space out of direct sunlight.
This variety is an ever-evolving show from tiny bud to the last petal drop. A sturdy peony with an open bud shape that closely resembles a perfect rose. The deep ruby red brightens and lightens as this bloom opens and ages with a great splash of yellow stamens and seed pods in the center. ‘Old Faithful’ changes day-to-day making it one of the most enjoyable peonies to cultivate. As a late season bloomer it is a stunning finale in a peony cutting garden.
Deep burgundy color with a semi-double bloom form to showcase the bright yellow stamens and pink-tipped seed pods. Similar in color to ‘Red Charm’ as a true red, but with the added bonus of a bright and textured center. Large cupped outer petals partially close each night around the loosely arranged smaller petals in the center. One of the great benefits of having ‘Buckeye Belle’ in your garden is that the bloom season lasts quite a long time due to the long life of the blooms and the staggered bloom time on the plant. Although this variety is a bit short in stature, it still commands attention with the enormous blooms and eye-catching colors.
A bright fire-engine red, this early season bloomer immediately draws attention with large, showy blossoms. Delicate semi-double bloom form with large, cupped petals. Winner of the American Peony Society Gold Medal award in 2013 this is the brightest red peony we have seen, like a glowing beacon it draws admirers near with its intense color. A prolific producer when fully mature, but as with most semi-double bloom forms the vase life is only a few glorious days long.
Adding any red peony to your collection is sure to be a rewarding choice to last for years to come. When ordering red peonies as cut flowers for an event it is important to ask what undertones come through in the specific light your event will be taking place. Some will look dramatically different in natural, outdoor light vs. indoor, artificial light. A knowledgable and experienced grower or wholesaler will be your best guide when selecting the correct variety. In our opinion, all red peony varieties are a spectacular sight to behold and an absolute treasure in the garden.
-Written by the members of the Alaska Peony Cooperative