Purple Peonies

Count on purple peonies to bring eye-catching hues to the garden.
By: Julie A Martens

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

Discover the exquisite beauty of purple peonies. This group of peonies includes both Chinese types (Paeonia lactiflora), Japanese hybrids (Paeonia hybrids) and tree peonies (Paeonia suffruticosa). The hints and tints of purple in the peony world aren’t the typical shades you might dream up when you think of purple. Instead, purple peonies fall more along the lines of lavender, lavender-pink and purple tinged reds.

In the botanical world, flower colors don’t always mimic those you learn in elementary school courtesy of the crayon box. It’s important to understand these color shifts when you’re shopping for plants. In the case of peonies, purple varieties frequently carry tints of red, lavender and pink.

‘Adolphe Rousseau’ Chinese peony flowers early in the peony season, opening purple-red flowers packed with petals. Many gardeners grow it specifically for using in bouquets. It’s frequently listed in the purple peonies category in nurseries, as is the Japanese tree peony ‘Kokuryu Nishiki’. This beauty translates to the name Black Dragon Brocade. The blooms feature dark maroon-purple petals surrounding a gold center. A light and spicy fragrance exudes from the oversize flowers. Petals have white markings along edges underneath that resembles exquisite embroidery, like brocade cloth.

Purple peonies also often showcase shades of light purple and pink, with flower petals displaying a lavender hue suffused with pink tones. ‘First Arrival’ is an Itoh peony that opens semi-double blooms in lavender pink. The ruffled petals lay back to display a bright gold center of frilly stamens. The entire flower measures 6 to 8 inches across.

Another lavender pink peony that’s classified in the purple peonies group is ‘Sebastian Maas’, which opens lightly fragrant flowers. This purple peony produces many side buds on stems that mature to fully open blooms, which give this beauty a long flowering window. The Chinese peony ‘Lilac Time’ unfurls frilly blossoms in shades of lavender pink. The flower form is unusual and makes a wonderful addition to a garden or fresh cut peony bouquet.

‘Yagumo’ Japanese tree peony reveals semi-double flowers with wonderfully layered petals that unfurl to reveal a deep gold center. The petals offer a rich purple pink hue, and outer ones are rimmed with ivory. The name ‘Yagumo’ means “layered clouds,” which describes the intricate arrangement of petals in this beauty.

For many tree peonies, purple appears inside the blossoms, in flares at the base of petals. These boldly tinted flares contrast with the petal shade and the flower’s gold center. An example is the tree peony ‘Zephyrus’, which opens a pale, lavender pink flower with dark maroon-purple flares.

The famous tree peony from Tibet, ‘Joseph Rock’, accents snowy white petals with deep purple flares. This classic peony also brings a strong fragrance to the garden. In ‘Guardian of the Monastery’ tree peony, large, deep purple flares on blossoms contrast artfully with pale lavender pink petals.

Next Up

Red Peonies

Explore the rich shades of red peonies, and rely on these bloomers to bring color and fragrance to your garden.

Green Peonies

Give your garden a cooling splash of color with the beautiful flowers of green peonies.

White Peonies

Discover the beauty of white peonies, which bring gentle color and rich fragrance to the spring garden.

Yellow Peonies

Add some living sunshine to your garden with yellow peonies.

Pink Peonies

Discover the many shades of a pink peony, from fragrant ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ peony to late pink bloomers that extend peony season.

Peony Meaning

Learn about the meaning of peonies in the language of flowers.

Herbaceous Peonies

Give your yard a shot of color with one of the most long-lived perennials: herbaceous peonies.

Blue Peonies

Yearning for a blue peony flower? Unearth the truth behind the mysterious blue peony.

Peony Colors

Explore the many facets of peony flower colors, from familiar pink peonies to unusual yellow ones.

Growing Peonies

Discover tips for growing peonies, one of the garden’s most long-lived perennials.


Get Social With Us

We love to DIY. You love to DIY. Let's get together.

Consult Our A-Z Guide

Everything You Need to Know

Browse a full list of topics found on the site, from accessories to mudrooms to wreaths.  

How-To Advice and Videos

Get video instructions about kitchens, bathrooms, remodeling, flooring, painting and more.

Watch DIY Downloads Now

Watch DIY Network LIVE

Don't miss your favorite shows in real time online.