Red Peonies

Botanical Names: Red Memorial Day peony (Paeonia officinalis rubra plena), ‘Karl Rosenfield’ (Paeonia ‘Karl Rosenfield’), tree peonies (Paeonia suffruticosa)

Choose a few red peonies to accent your yard with splashy flowers in a range of red tones. Red peonies open in shades of tomato red, deep burgundy, red with purple overtones, brown red, raspberry red and copper-infused red. Some red peony flowers offer tints of orange, while others sparkle with mahogany aspects. Like other peonies, red types can overflow with fragrance. In peony meaning, red peonies reflect intense and enduring love.

One type of red peony has the distinction of being one of the oldest peonies in cultivation. The peony known as Red Memorial Day peony (Paeonia officinalis rubra plena) dates to 1581. Flowers are double with petals in shades of crimson and a sweetly spicy, almost cinnamon fragrance. This red peony gives a strong performance even in warmer zones. It’s an heirloom peony frequently found in old cemeteries.

Another favorite red peony is ‘Karl Rosenfield’ (Paeonia ‘Karl Rosenfield’), which unfurls extra-large flowers that stretch up to 8 inches in diameter. The showy blossoms are semi-double with a rich crimson-pink shade and a strong perfume. Stems are strong, but with the extra-large blossoms, staking definitely benefits this beauty. ‘Karl Rosenfield’ peony is an heirloom that was introduced in 1908.

Watermelon red to fuchsia-purple blooms dress ‘Kansas’ peony midway through peony season. Blossoms measure 5 to 7 inches across and boast a light, refreshing fragrance. Kansas peony flowers make wonderful cut flowers and last long in the vase. This red peony was developed in 1940.

For dark mahogany red, almost black blooms, plant ‘Buckeye Belle’ peony. Its dark petals form a cup that encircles a bright gold center. If you like to cut flowers for bouquets, include a dark red peony in your garden to provide vivid accents in your arrangements. Stems top out at 30 inches and don’t need staking, making this a low-maintenance perennial.

Some tree peonies (Paeonia suffruticosa), including ‘Toichi Ruby’ with fluffy, ruby red flowers, round out the red peony ranks. ‘Rimpo’ is a tree peony with deep red blooms that measure 9 inches across. Rose-red ‘Higuri’ tree peony is a new introduction that hit the marketplace in 2013. The flowers are full and display gold centers. ‘Daedalus’ unfurls burgundy red flowers with bright yellow centers. This tree peony doesn’t lose stems to cold weather.

When adding red peonies to your yard, focus on combining them with other flowers in shades of yellow or purple tones. Potential planting companions for red peonies include shrub roses, larkspur, coreopsis, catmint and Siberian or bearded iris. Or try pairing red peonies with white or variegated plants. Good plant candidates for this eye-catching design style include Shasta daisy, white campanula and variegated Solomon’s seal.