The peony is a perennial plant that produces large, showy, fragrant flowers in spring. The blooming period is short, usually two to three weeks. Flower colors range from white to dark red and include coral, pink, purple and yellow.
Peonies need cold winters to produce blooms and generally do well in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 2 through 8. They are long-lived plants that should be planted in permanent locations. Peonies do not like to be transplanted, although they can be divided if they become too large and crowded.
Peonies are classified as herbaceous or tree form. The herbaceous peony grows to a height of 3 to 4 feet and can spread to 4 feet. It needs to be cut to the ground each fall but will grow back quickly in the spring. The tree peony, which is actually a shrub, can reach up to 5 feet tall and should not be cut back, as it will not grow again.
Healthy peonies will live a long time but may take a few years to become mature enough to bloom. Herbaceous peonies, also called garden peonies, will probably begin to bloom within three years from their initial planting. Tree peonies will also begin blooming within about three years, but will continue to grow slowly and increase their blooms after that time.