Coordinate them. Complement your peonies with an ensemble of flowers in the same color palette. This parade of pastels includes peonies, foxglove, campion (Silene spp.), spiderwort (Tradescantia spp.), and veronica. Tip: Note the position of the rocks, which keep the peonies in front from flopping.
Pair them. Peonies are adaptable and can take the partly shady conditions that appeal to the pale pink rhododendron and Crimson Queen Japanese maple seen here. The Japanese maple’s burgundy foliage ensures the bed has visual interest after blooms fade.
Contrast them. Add contrast with flowers. These bright yellow coreopsis blooms create an energetic duo with the dark-pink peony blooms, and coreopsis’ long season of bloom keeps the show going well into summer.
Stage them. Put the spotlight on peonies by positioning them in front of an attractive fence or wall. This white picket fence helps direct attention to the flowers. Later in the season, the peonies will make a nice, green, well-behaved hedge against the fence.
Augment them. This trio really hits some high notes in spring, thanks to the backing of pink climbing roses and purple larkspur (Consolida spp.) behind the white peonies.
Strengthen them. Peonies are wonderful in spring bloom, but you can strengthen their appeal by surrounding them with plants that excel in other seasons, like lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis), veronica, purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), and blue spruce.
Mask them. Another reason to give peonies some company is to mask any supports that are used. The catmint (Nepeta x faassenii) and lamb’s ears (Stachys byzantina) here make lovely companions that will carry into summer.
Enjoy them. With large blooms in a range of bright colors, peonies make great cut flowers that can hold their own in a vase. Enjoy them outdoors or indoors, but if you’re taking them inside, do a quick check for ants—they sometimes find their way among the blooms.
Good to Know: Plant your peony in a sunny, well-drained spot. Plant dormant peonies so the eye buds are no more than 2 inches below ground—any deeper than that can delay or prevent blooming. Fertilize regularly, as peonies are heavy feeders.
Peonies give you richly rewarding color in spring and a steady and easy garden presence the rest of the growing season.