7 purple peonies for a unique floral display

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Purple peonies are rare but are well worth searching out to add to your flower garden. Some of the most popular purple peony varieties include the Morning Lilac Itoh Peony and the Shimadaijin Tree Peony. Read on to learn more about these spectacular cultivars and some other wonderful purple peonies.

Morning lilac peony
Morning lilac peony

1. Morning Lilac Itoh peony

The Morning Lilac Itoh Peony is perhaps the most popular purple peony variety. These flowers have fuchsia petals that transform to true dark purple close to the center of the flower. The flowers are single to semi-double, with slightly crinkled soft petals. Each lightly-fragrant flower measures about 6″ across. The stems are strong and the leaves are deep green and make lovely foliage after the bloom has finished.

Morning Lilac Itoh Peonies (Paeonia x ‘Morning Lilac’) can be grown in Zones 3-8. They grow slowly but eventually reach a height of 26″-28″. The overall width of the plant ranges from 24″ to 36″ at maturity. The Morning Lilac Itoh Peony was developed by Roger F. Anderson of Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, USA, and introduced in 1999.

2. Nightlife peony

The Nightlife Peony is one of the darkest purple peony varieties available. The dark, dramatic blooms are also quite fragrant, making them a pleasure to grow in the garden and to bring indoors as a cut flower. These tough plants can be grown in Zones 2-8.

Shimadaijin tree peony - purple peony variety
Shimadaijin tree peony

3. Shimadaijin tree peony

The Shimadaijin Tree Peony (also called Shima Daijin Tree Peony) is one of the most sought-after tree peonies due to its large, fluffy, semi-double violet flowers. These purple peonies have multiple layers of soft, silky petals that puff out into a gorgeous flower. Each flower measures about 8″ across, and they have a lovely floral scent.

Shimadaijin Tree Peony (Paeonia suffruticosa Shimadaijin’) can be grown in Zones 4-7. These plants grow quickly for tree peonies (although their general growth rate is still slower than many other woody plants). Shimadaijin Tree Peony plants typically reach a height of 36″ to 84″ tall, with a spread of 3′-5′ wide. The Shimadaijin Tree Peony was developed by Kiyo Ikeuchi in Daikon Island, Japan in 1952.

4. Peter Brand peony

The Peter Brand Peony is a richly-colored deep burgundy double peony. This heirloom variety has layers and layers of petals, with individual flowers measuring 6″ wide. While the flowers are a ruby-red color when they first open, they mature into a rich purple color as the petals unfurl. The foliage is a dark green shade and the stems are strong enough that this peony often does not require staking or support.

Peter Brand Peony (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Peter Brand’) can be grown in Zones 3-8. These perennials grow slowly, but eventually reach a height of 34″-36″ tall and a spread of 30″ wide. The Peter Brand Peony was bred by Abrahm Brand at some point before 1937 (source: American Peony Society).

5. Cora Louise Itoh peony

The Cora Louise Itoh Peony is a stunning white peony flower with purple centers. The flowers are semi-double, measuring 8″-10″ across. A single plant can produce up to 50 flowers once established. The foliage is dark green and highly ornamental.

Cora Louise Peony (Paeonia x ‘Cora Louise’) can be grown in Zones 3-8. This type is low-growing, reaching a mature height of 23″-27″ tall. Established plants can have a spread of up to 36″ wide. The Cora Louise Peony was bred by Roger F. Anderson of Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, USA (who also created the Morning Lilac Peony), and introduced in 1986.

Purple peonies
Purple peonies

6. First Arrival Itoh peony

The First Arrival Itoh Peony is a lavender-pink peony with puffy, semi-double flowers. The soft purple flowers have a wonderful floral scent and are highly attractive to beneficial pollinators. Each flower grows 6″-8″ across. Foliage is dark green and grows in a dense form.

First Arrival Peony (Paeonia x ‘First Arrival’) can be grown in Zones 3-8. Plants are compact, growing 24″-28″ tall and 24″-36″ wide. The First Arrival Peony was also bred by Roger F. Anderson of Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, USA, and introduced in 1986.

7. Cherry Hill peony

The Cherry Hill Peony in an heirloom crimson-plum double peony cultivar. These richly-colored fluffy flowers truly are the color of rich, dark cherries. Blooms are 6″ wide and beautifully scented. The stalks are strong and rarely need support or staking.

Cherry Hill Peony (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Cherry Hill’) can be grown in Zones 3-8. These plants take a few years to get established enough to produce big fluffy flowers. Plants are large, reaching 40″-44″ tall and 24″-36″ wide. The Cherry Hill Peony was bred by Thomas C. Thurlow and introduced in 1915.

Purple peony
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.