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Ladybrook Nursery’s top 4 perennial paeonies

It might seem strange to be thinking about planting perennials when the nights are drawing in, but autumn is the perfect time for planting paeonies. Paeonies are one of Ladybrook Nursery’s favourite perennials. We love them for their abundant blooms, the beauty of their delicate flowers, their delightful fragrance and their bold foliage which changes shade over the seasons. If you are looking for a traditional, yet spectacular perennial for the garden border, paeonies are the perfect plant. 

Where to plant paeonies                                                                                     

Peonies are extremely hardy and adaptable plants. They grow best in full sun; but can be grown in light shade. If you do plant in light shade you can expect fewer flowers, but the upside is that the blooms tend to last longer.

Paeonies will grow in most soils provided they are not too wet in the winter. They will grow in chalky soils and prefer slightly alkaline conditions. If your soil is acidic add a handful or two of lime when planting. A heavier soil is preferable to a light one, but it is always beneficial to add some organic matter, which will also improve moisture retention if your soil is dry. In exposed and windy areas, taller varieties may need staking.

Planting Your Peony

Good drainage is essential for a healthy paeonies, so soil preparation is crucial. Add garden compost and bone meal/fertiliser when planting. The key to a healthy paeonies is planting at the correct depth. Don’t plant paeonies too deeply: keep the top of the crown (the buds) no more than 5cm below the soil surface. Container grown plants are already potted at the correct level, so plant to the same depth. Water regularly when rain is lacking during the first year to aid establishment – especially if planted in spring or later in the season.


Only water if there is a prolonged drought and the plant has not had time to put down a good root system, as paeonies really dislike being overwatered. Once the buds emerge give it a dressing of super phosphate and calcium nitrate to improve the flower size. A dressing of lime in the autumn will also be beneficial. Don’t feed with a high nitrogen fertiliser as this just produces a lot of leafy growth which is susceptible to fungal infections and pest attack.

Ladybrook Nursery’s favourite paeonies

Paeonia Duchess de Nemours


One of the oldest paeonies, and certainly the most famous double white peony. Duchess de Nemours boasts a full bloom with incurving pure white petals that are tinged lemony/green at the base. Duchess de Nemours is a free-flowering and highly scented paeonie. As it is one of the earlier flowering cultivars, Duchess de Nemours is an excellent choice for prolonging the flowering season.

Height: 80cm

Foliage: dark green

Flower colour: pure white double

Flowering: June to July

Aspect: full sun to partial shade

Paeonia Jan Van Leeuwen


This single Japanese-style selection has satiny-white petals, with a contrasting yellow centre to the flower. Midseason flowering, growing to around 60 -90 cm high. Makes a great cut flower. 

Height: 60 -90cm

Foliage: dark green

Flower colour: pure white single with yellow stamens

Flowering: May to June

Aspect: full sun to partial shade

Paeonia Karl Rosenfeld


Very bright globe shaped flowers of crimson red. The golden stamens become more prominent as the flowers mature Free-flowering on strong stems with fine foliage. A good garden variety which produces excellent blooms for cutting. Late-flowering, growing to a height of around 80 cms.

Height: 80cm

Foliage: reddish bronze

Flower colour: magenta/crimson – fragrant double

Flowering: June to July

Aspect: full sun to partial shade

Paeonia Rosa Plena


An award winning old-fashioned, clump-forming, cottage garden perennial producing beautiful double rose-pink flowers against dark green leaves that remains attractive all season long. May-flowering perennial with heavy double blooms which may need support.

Height: 80cm

Foliage: dark green

Flower colour: rose pink – fragrant double

Flowering: June to July

Aspect: full sun to partial shade

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