Yellow Peonies

Add some living sunshine to your garden with yellow peonies.
By: Julie A Martens

Botanical Names: Paeonia, tree peonies (Paeonia suffruticosa), garden peony (Paeonia lactiflora)

Expand your peony horizons by venturing into the world of yellow peonies. These cheery bloomers open flowers in various yellow shades, from lemon, to butter, to gold. You can find yellow peonies in each peony group: garden or Chinese peony (Paeonia lactiflora), tree peony (Paeonia suffruticosa) and Itoh intersectional hybrids.

Peony breeders aimed to create a yellow peony from their earliest efforts, and the results typically fall into two categories. The first is a true yellow peony flower—yellow petals that are single or double in number. The second is a cup shape single blossom punctuated with a large center cluster of flat stamens that are gold or yellow. The center cluster area takes up about two-thirds of the flower, giving it an overall yellow appearance in the garden.

Among Chinese garden peonies, a classic yellow peony is ‘Goldilocks’. This is an early blooming peony that opens a traditional fully petaled peony flower in a light yellow shade. If you spy this charmer for sale, don’t think twice. It’s rarely available, so if you want it, it’s wise to snap it up.

For a single bloom yellow peony, check out ‘Roy Pehrsons Best Yellow’. This Chinese peony hybrid unfurls soft yellow flowers with a frilly center of gold stamens. While the hue is softer than some the Itoh intersectional hybrid peonies, this yellow peony is much less pricey. The blooms make a good addition to garden bouquets. ‘Claire de Lune’ yellow peony opens single flowers in a pale lemon yellow. It’s an early bloomer, and the blossoms offer a sweet fragrance.

Yellow peony fanatics usually mention ‘Bartzella’, which is an intersectional Itoh hybrid. The 10-inch-wide flowers are full, semi-double to double and bear a lemon scent. Plants produce many side buds that open in succession, yielding a long flowering season—up to four weeks. This is a good peony to grow if you’re wanting flowers for bouquets.

‘Sequestered Sunshine’ is another Itoh peony hybrid that opens bright yellow blossoms that are single to semi-double. There’s a splash of red on this yellow peony in the form of flares at the base of the center petals. The fragrance for this one is more spicy.

An herbaceous yellow peony from the Caucasus region is Paeonia mlokosewitchii, which is alsoknown as Molly the Witch. The plant opens single yellow bowl shape flowers up to 5 inches across filled with a golden cluster of stamens. The bloom color is fainter in the United States than in its native region, but the color is still good. This yellow peony was discovered by a Russian or Polish forester in 1897. Flowers offer a sweet perfume and stand atop reddish stems.

To find yellow peonies, search out peony nurseries online. These companies typically ship bareroot tubers in late summer to early fall.

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