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Paeonia tenuifolia (Fernleaf Peony)

Fernleaf Peony, Fennel-Leaved Peony, Slender-Leaved Peony, Paeonia carthalinica, Paeonia hybrida

Paeonia tenuifolia,Fernleaf Peony, Fennel-Leaved Peony, Slender-Leaved Peony, Paeonia carthalinica, Paeonia hybrida, Red Peonies, Red flowers, Red Peony
Paeonia tenuifolia,Fernleaf Peony, Fennel-Leaved Peony, Slender-Leaved Peony, Paeonia carthalinica, Paeonia hybrida, Red Peonies, Red flowers, Red Peony

One of the earliest peonies to flower in the spring, Paeonia tenuifolia, with its distinctive fern-like foliage and vibrant flowers, is an exceptional peony species. It offers gardeners a combination of ornamental beauty, low maintenance, and ecological benefits, making it a prized addition to a variety of garden styles.

Paeonia tenuifolia: An In-depth Look

Paeonia tenuifolia, commonly known as the fernleaf peony, is distinguished by its deeply dissected, fern-like leaves and vibrant red flowers. It’s a unique and striking species within the Paeonia genus.

Native: This species is native to Eastern Europe and Western Asia, including regions in Russia and the Balkans.

Plant Type and Habit: It is a shrubby, herbaceous perennial known for its compact and clump-forming habit. The plant dies back to the ground each winter and re-emerges in spring.

Size: Fernleaf peony typically grows to about 24 inches in height (60 cm) and 18 inches in width (45 cm), forming a tidy, rounded mound.

Flowers: It features single, cup-shaped dark crimson-red flowers adorned with contrasting golden-yellow stamens in their center. The blossoms, 4 inches across (10 cm), contrast strikingly with the feathery, green foliage.

Blooming Season: The fernleaf peony, often among the earliest peonies to herald spring, typically unfurls its vibrant blooms in late spring to early summer. This early-season peony graces gardens with its stunning display for about 7-10 days, offering a brief yet captivating floral spectacle. After blooming, it produces seed pods, though they are not as visually prominent as the flowers or foliage.

Foliage: The foliage is the most distinguishing characteristic, with narrow, needle-like, finely divided leaflets, giving the plant a delicate and lacy appearance. The foliage remains attractive throughout summer until frost before dying to the ground after frost.

Uses: Its primary use is ornamental, ideal for borders, rock gardens, and cottage gardens. The unique foliage and early bloom time make it a valuable addition to any garden.

Hardiness: It is hardy in USDA zones 3 through 8 and can withstand cold winters.

Toxicity: Like other peonies, Paeonia tenuifolia is toxic to cats, dogs, and horses if ingested.

Wildlife: The vibrant flowers attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies, contributing to local biodiversity.

Deer and Rabbit: It’s relatively resistant to deer and rabbits.

Invasiveness: This plant is not invasive and tends to grow slowly, making it manageable in a garden setting.

Benefits: Apart from its ornamental appeal, it supports pollinators and can be part of a deer-resistant planting strategy.

Peony Growing Tips

Light: Thrives in full sun to partial shade. Prefers at least six hours of sunlight daily for optimal flowering.

Soil: Prefers rich, fertile, well-drained soil.

Water: Regular watering during dry spells, especially during the growing season. Avoid overwatering; ensure the soil is moist but not waterlogged.

Fertilizer: Apply a balanced fertilizer in early spring as new growth appears. Avoid high-nitrogen fertilizers, which may promote foliage at the expense of flowers.

Pruning: Deadhead spent blooms after flowering. Cut back foliage in the fall after it has died down.

Propagation: Best propagated by division in the autumn. Divide every few years to maintain vigor.

Pests and Diseases: Generally resistant to pests. Watch for botrytis blight, crown rot, peony blotch, powdery mildew, root rot, white mold, and verticillium wilt.

Peony: How to Grow and Care with Success


The Peony, a member of the Paeoniaceae family, is cherished for its large, fragrant blooms in shades of pink, red, white, and yellow. Native to Asia, Europe, and Western North America, peonies are long-lived perennials or shrubs, thriving in USDA zones 3-8. Their lush foliage and striking flowers make them garden favorites, ideal for borders, cut arrangements, and special occasions.

Requirements

Hardiness 3 - 8
Heat Zones 1 - 8
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, A1, A2, A3
Plant Type Perennials, Shrubs
Plant Family Paeoniaceae
Genus Paeonia
Common names Peony, Fernleaf Peony
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Late)
Summer (Early)
Height 1' - 2'
(30cm - 60cm)
Spread 1' - 2'
(30cm - 60cm)
Spacing 18" (50cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Tolerance Deer, Rabbit
Attracts Butterflies, Bees
Garden Uses Beds And Borders
Garden Styles Informal and Cottage, Gravel and Rock Garden
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Alternative Plants to Consider

Paeonia delavayi var. lutea (Yellow Tree Peony)
Paeonia obovata (Woodland Peony)
Paeonia lactiflora ‘Pillow Talk’ (Peony)
Paeonia lactiflora ‘Minnie Shaylor’ (Peony)
Paeonia ‘Lemon Chiffon’ (Peony)
Paeonia lactiflora ‘Moonstone’ (Peony)

Recommended Companion Plants

Berberis thunbergii ‘Atropurpurea Nana’ (Japanese Barberry)
Anemone sylvestris (Snowdrop Anemone)

Find In One of Our Guides or Gardens

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Pretty Early Blooming Peonies for your Spring Garden
Late Season Peonies for your Spring Garden
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Very Early Blooming Peonies for your Spring Garden
Fragrant Peonies
Award-Winning Peonies
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Extend the Blooming Season of Your Peonies
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.
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Requirements

Hardiness 3 - 8
Heat Zones 1 - 8
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, A1, A2, A3
Plant Type Perennials, Shrubs
Plant Family Paeoniaceae
Genus Paeonia
Common names Peony, Fernleaf Peony
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Late)
Summer (Early)
Height 1' - 2'
(30cm - 60cm)
Spread 1' - 2'
(30cm - 60cm)
Spacing 18" (50cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Tolerance Deer, Rabbit
Attracts Butterflies, Bees
Garden Uses Beds And Borders
Garden Styles Informal and Cottage, Gravel and Rock Garden
How Many Plants
Do I Need?
Explore Great Plant Combination Ideas
Paeonia (Peony)
Guides with
Paeonia (Peony)
Not sure which Paeonia (Peony) to pick?
Compare Now

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