Kansas peony: A frilly magenta double peony variety

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Looking for a frilly magenta red-pink peony that almost looks like an old-fashioned rose? It’s time to try the Kansas peony in your garden!

Kansas peony is a bright red-pink double peony with loose frilly petals. These cheerful magenta flowers can reach 8″ across! Plants grow to be between two and three feet tall, with ornamental dark green foliage and strong stems. Kansas peony plants bloom best in full sunlight planting locations and with moist, nutrient-rich soil. The Kansas peony is a cultivar of Paeonia lactiflora bred in Topeka, Kansas in 1940 by American peony breeder Myron Bigger.

Read on to learn all about the Kansas peony!

Kansas peonies
Kansas peonies

Kansas peony basics

Kansas peonies are frilly red-pink peony flowers with double-petal blooms. The Kansas Peony was bred by Myron D. Bigger of Topeka, Kansas, and was introduced in 1940. The Kansas Peony received the 1957 Gold Medal from the American Peony Society. Myron Bigger became the president of the American Peony Society from 1958-1959.

Peony ‘Kansas’ has large double flowers, reaching 8″ across. These large blooms are supported by very strong upright stems. While the flowers do not have a floral fragrance, they have the appearance of old-fashioned garden roses.

The flowers of ‘Kansas’ are termed “Doubles”, as they have multiple layers of petals. These big, fluffy, puffball-like flowers are among the largest types of peony blooms (and certainly the heaviest!). Other types of double peonies include Karl Rosenfeld peony, Sarah Bernhardt peony, and Festiva Maxima peony.

The Kansas peony grows to be between two and three feet tall with a similar width. It has green foliage and boasts a magnificent white flower that grows to be between six and seven inches wide. This peony variety is set apart from other white peonies by the hot pink edges at the tip of the serrated petals. These peonies look as if the petals have just barely brushed up against red-pink dye.

Kansas peony flower
The kansas peony is a double peony

What type of peony is the Kansas peony classified as?

Kansas peony plants (Paeonia lactifloraKansas’) are herbaceous peony plants with Full Double-type peony flowers that bloom early in peony season (typically early-mid spring).

Peonies come in six main types of flower forms: Single, Anemone, Japanese, Semi-Double, Bombe, and Full Double. Full Double peonies like ‘Kansas’ are known for their voluminous layers of petals. In this flower type, all stamens and carpels in the centre of the flower are transformed into petals. Double peonies look like a flower inside a flower (hence the term “double”).

There are three main types of peony plants: tree, herbaceous, and intersectional. Kansas Peonies are among the herbaceous category of peony plants.

Kansas peonies in the garden

Growing Kansas peony plants

Like most peonies, Kansas requires only minimal maintenance as long as they’ve been planted in the right spot.

The Kansas peony only blooms in spring but is resilient throughout the year even into the winter. When the blooms start to die down at the beginning of summer, it’s time to start cutting them back. They should be cut back a little way into the foliage, preferably to a strong leaf, so that the stem doesn’t stick out.

Planting location

Peonies can grow in hardiness zones 2-8. Their preferred zones are usually 4-7, but Kansas Peonies are a little more resistant to the heat than your average peony, meaning that it tends to thrive in the 8 climate zone a little better than most. This does not mean that it can be grown in hotter climate zones than this—8 is still the maximum.

Within your garden, the Kansas Peony will want a spot that gets plenty of sunlight and has deep soil with good drainage. Like other peonies, it struggles to compete with trees, bushes, or shrubs, so be sure to plant it away from those.

When planting more than one of them, plant them three to four feet away from each other for the best results.

Soil for healthy peonies

Peonies like soil with a neutral to slightly acidic pH that is deep and drains well. If you have soil that is capable of growing plants without fertilizer, then there is no reason to use more than a tiny bit for these flowers.

Planting peonies

The best time to plant peonies is during the early spring on in the fall. The best time to move them is in early fall (although they don’t love being moved). It is important that the roots have at least six weeks to settle in before the ground freezes.

Most peonies are sold as bare roots. When planting bare-root peonies, you’ll want to start by digging a hole about a foot wide and a couple of feet deep. It needs to have enough space for the plant to grow roots in. At this point, you’ll want to mix your compost with the dirt.

Next, you’ll build a mound in the hole that peaks no less than two inches from the surface. This is where you will rest the root itself, with its eyes facing towards the opening of the hole.

Now push the soil back into the hole, being careful to make sure that the root doesn’t end up getting pushed further than two inches beneath the surface.

You can now tamp the soil gently and water the area where you planted the peonies generously to ensure that they have what they need to grow.

Caring for peony plants

While peonies don’t need a lot of attention, it is a good idea to give them some kind of support for their stems. This can be wooden stakes, metal peony circles, or even tomato cages. Peonies don’t mind metal, so don’t worry about that bothering them.

There’s no need to mulch them heavily, even in the winter. If you do decide to mulch them, light mulching will be fine. Peonies are very cold-hardy!

Along with trimming back dying blossoms, you should also trim the peony plant’s foliage to the ground before each winter to protect it from overwintering.

Pests and diseases

Fortunately, Peonies in general aren’t vulnerable to many pests. Not only do they resist deer and rabbits, but they also have a symbiotic relationship with ants that protects them from things like slugs or aphids. They can, however, contract a variety of diseases if you aren’t careful with them.

Peonies are vulnerable to powdery mildew, which is rarely lethal but can make life much more difficult for them. The best way to prevent this is to keep them in the sunlight and treat any signs of mildew right away. Plenty of sunlight will not only help the plant grow healthily but also suppress any fungus growing on it. Good air circulation is also helpful.

Many infections that peonies can suffer from require you to either remove the affected part of the plant to remove the plant altogether. Never leave dead plant foliage, stems, or roots in your garden!

Mary Jane Duford
Mary Jane Duford

Mary Jane Duford is a gardening expert and founder of Home for the Harvest. She's also a professional engineer, certified permaculture garden designer, and master gardener in training. Mary Jane has been featured by publications such as Real Simple, Mother Earth News, Homes & Gardens, Heirloom Gardener, and Family Handyman.