Peony Companion Plants

Peonies produce some of the most lovely scented flowers that are truly eye-catching. Layers of thin, ruffled petals in pink, red, yellow, or white shades create large globe-like blooms. Peonies bloom in the spring, but their dark green palmate foliage stays in place for the rest of the growing season, providing color and a nice background for other plants, like roses, magnolias, and honey locusts.   

Spacing is vital for peonies. These plants are prone to powdery mildew and need ample air circulation to stay healthy. When creating a mixed bed or border, leave plenty of space around each plant. Peonies can be herbaceous or woody and grow in zones 2 through 9, but the care across these different varieties is similar. Choose a spot that receives full sun and water about an inch a week, depending on rainfall.


Photo by Mark Wordy, unmodified, Flickrcopyright CC BY 2.0 DEED

Shrubs To Plant With Peony

Delicate foliage and cascading flower clusters make the honey locust tree an easy focal point. The leaves turn a stunning yellow hue during the fall for a nice burst of color. The open, airy form of the honey locust tree will allow dappled sunlight to pass through. Since honey locusts and peonies require full sun, position these plants so the taller tree doesn’t block the smaller plant. Magnolia is another tree that boasts impressive, fragrant flowers that complement the look of peonies.

Roses and peonies are some of the most popular wedding flowers, so it makes sense to plant them together. Both of these flowering plants need full sun. Plan to water during a dry spell or drought to ensure the plants stay lush and bloom well. Roses and peonies need their space, so whether you plant them in rows for a formal look or place them organically within a large area, just make sure they have enough room for air to circulate.

Lilacs and azaleas are low-maintenance flowering shrubs that also work well with peonies. All of these plants put on a dazzling display when they bloom in the spring and provide consistent greenery throughout the rest of the summer and fall.

Perennials To Plant With Peony

The tall, dramatic delphinium flowers are a good match for peonies. Both plants have similar care needs, making them a good fit for the same area. Peonies often bloom in May or June, and delphiniums typically bloom just after so that you can enjoy continued flowers and color with these plants. Salvia is another perennial that works well with peonies. The tall stems are dotted with tiny purple or white flowers that provide a nice texture. Salvia starts to bloom in mid-summer for a constant floral display.


Photo by Mark Wordy, unmodified, Flickr, copyright CC BY 2.0 DEED

Annuals To Plant With Peony

Peonies are a long-term commitment, so planting annuals in a shared bed is a great way to introduce new colors and vibrancy without completely re-doing the entire space. Annuals like lobelia and verbena work well with peonies because they add color without distracting from the large, beautiful peony flowers. After the peony flowers fade, the lobelia and verbena flowers will stand out against the peony foliage.   

Best Companion Plants For Peony in Containers

Peonies need space and do not like to be crowded, so pair them with a trailing plant like calibrachoa in containers. Calibrachoa blooms from spring through the first frost and craves full sun. This plant is virtually maintenance-free, so you can focus all your attention on maintaining the peony.  

Plants Not To Grow With Peony

Keep peonies away from spreading plants, like Japanese anemone and artemisia. While these plants enjoy the same conditions as peonies, their spreading tendency will infringe on the peony and crowd it, increasing the risk of powdery mildew. Growing spreading plants near peonies is possible, but they need to be spaced far apart and may require continuous pulling and pruning to keep them under control.

Best Plants To Grow With Peony

Any plants that love full sun and have a mounded or upright growth habit will grow nicely in a mixed bed or border containing peonies. A formal space with organized rows will allow for proper spacing and allow all of the plants to coexist happily. Plant peonies near other fragrant plants for an aromatic garden to amuse the senses.

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Author Alison Cotsonas - Published 10-03-2023