7 purple peonies

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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 varieties.

Morning lilac peony
Morning lilac peony

1. Morning Lilac peony

Morning Lilac peony is perhaps the most popular purple peony variety. Morning Lilac is an Itoh peony, meaning it is an intersectional hybrid cross between a lactiflora species herbaceous plant and a tree peony.

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. These fragrant flowers 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

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

Shimadaijin tree peony - purple peony variety
Shimadaijin tree peony

3. Shimadaijin tree peony

Shimadaijin Tree peonies are among the most sought-after tree peonies due to their large, fluffy, semi-double violet perennial 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 Peonies (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 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

Peter Brand peonies are 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. This is one of the easiest purple peonies to grow.

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 peony

The Cora Louise 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 Itoh cultivar 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 peony

The First Arrival peony is a lavender-pink peony with puffy, semi-double flowers. The soft purple flowers of this Itoh cultivar bloom early and have a wonderful floral scent. The soft lavender petals are highly attractive to beneficial pollinators and are also lovely in bouquets. 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

Cherry Hill is 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 peonies (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. These peonies were bred by Thomas C. Thurlow and introduced in 1915.

Purple peony
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Mary Jane Duford
Mary Jane Duford

Mary Jane Duford is a Master Gardener and founder of the gardening website Home for the Harvest. She has been featured by Better Homes & Gardens, Real Simple, Good Housekeeping, Mother Earth News, and the National Garden Bureau. Mary Jane lives with her family in the Okanagan Valley.