Peony plants remain a popular addition to garden flower beds. They like cooler weather, so make sure to check the U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zone against the type of peony plant you selected to ensure it will thrive where planted. Peonies require sun and well drained soil. They provide beautiful foliage and are widely considered to be low-maintenance plants. While the foliage and flower types on peony plants come in a wide range of colors and petal formations, the peony plant has three distinct types.
Herbaceous and Fern Leaf Peonies
Soft-stemmed herbaceous peonies bloom in the spring and die back to the ground in the fall. This is the most commonly seen type of peony plant. Herbaceous peonies bloom primarily in shades of white, pink, red, peach, yellow and orange. The flowers range from single petal to double petal, larger "bomb" shaped blooms or the exotic Japanese anemone shape. The fern leaf peony plants have foliage that is finer and more delicate than the herbaceous variety.
Tree peony plants resemble flowering shrubs.
The tree peony plants are deciduous in nature. The stems of the plant remain year round, while the peony flowers bloom in the spring. The blooms of tree peony plants can reach up to 7 inches in diameter. Unlike herbaceous peony plants, the tree peonies resemble a shrub or tree structure.
Hybrid peonies, also referred to as intersectional peonies, represent a cross of the herbaceous peony plant and the tree peony. Each fall the plant dies back to the ground, but the flower buds are more resistant to frost than tree peony plants. The hybrid peony exhibits a greater hardiness to cold than other peony types. Flowers on hybrid peony plants come in the widest range of colors, making them an attractive option for the garden.