Peonies For Sun Or Shade: Best Peony Varieties For Sunny And Shady Gardens

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Peonies are a classic garden perennial. With their immense blooms and ease of growth, peony bushes remain an ever popular choice of landscapers, ornamental gardeners, and cut flower growers. Becoming more familiar with various species of peony plant and specifics for their growth, like peony sun requirements, can help gardeners make informed planting decisions and will help to ensure that the needs of each plant are met.

Do Peonies Like Sun or Shade?

In attempting to answer this question, growers will first need to carefully consider each peony species. Some of the most common types of peonies available at garden centers are herbaceous peonies, intersectional peonies, and tree peonies. Though each of these plants is quite similar to the other, there will be subtle variations in their light needs. 

For several varieties of peonies, full sun is an absolute necessity. Without at least six to eight hours of sunlight each day, some types may even fail to bloom. The most common peonies for full sun are herbaceous. These are types which grow, bloom, and die back to the ground naturally with the arrival of fall frosts. Some of the most popular varieties for full sun flowerbeds include Sarah Bernhardt, Red Charm, Coral Charm, and Bowl of Beauty.

Best Peonies for Shade

For many other types of peonies, shade or part shade may be required for them to truly thrive. Fortunately, finding the best peony for shade is not too difficult. In fact, there are several options available. Some of the most popular species include intersectional peonies and tree peonies. Also known as Itoh peonies, intersectional peonies are the result of a cross between herbaceous and tree species. This makes for a highly adaptable plant that's able to grow well in both full sun and part sun sites. In fact, most intersectional peonies benefit from shade during the hottest parts of the day. 

Tree peonies are known for their woody growth habit and immense blooms. For the tree peony, shade is essential. Most experts suggest that this species be planted in part to full dappled sunlight for best results. Shade gardeners have also found success with woodland species of peony. Though these flowers are not as showy as their hybrid relatives, many growers celebrate their unique ability to naturalize.

Tonya Barnett

Tonya Barnett has been gardening for 13 years. Flowers are her passion. She has trasformed her backyard into a cut flower garden, which she regularly chronicles on her YouTube channel