Paeonia 'Goldfinch'

Common Name: tree peony 
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Paeoniaceae
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 3.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 4.00 feet
Bloom Time: May
Bloom Description: Yellow
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Hedge, Herb
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Attracts: Butterflies
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer


Best grown in deep, fertile, medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Tolerant of summer heat. Add compost as needed before planting. Larger shrubs appreciate some shelter from strong winds. Unlike herbaceous peonies, the stems of tree peonies (which are woody shrubs) do not die to the ground in winter and should not be cut back after frost. No pruning is required, except to cut out dead wood or suckers in early spring. If plants become leggy, a moderate pruning in early fall can be done to shape plant and encourage additional growth on the lower part of the plant. Remove spent flowers after bloom. These long-lived plants usually take several years to establish, and are best left undisturbed once planted. Moreover, plant roots go deep and transplanting can be difficult. Appreciates some winter protection in USDA Zone 4 and the colder areas of Zone 5.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Paeonia is a genus of about 30 species of herbaceous perennials and subshrubs from Europe to Asia and in Western North America. Hebaceous types die to the ground each year where the subshrub (tree peonies) have woody stems.

Genus name comes from the Greek name for Paeon, physician of the gods and reputed discoverer of the medicinal properties of plants in this genus.

‘Goldfinch’ (Saunders 1948) is a hybrid tree peony that features large, single, yellow flowers with attractive yellow center stamens. Flowers bloom in spring (May in the St. Louis area). This is a deciduous, woody shrub that typically grows to 3-4’ tall and 3-4’ wide. Medium green foliage is deeply divided into oval to lance-shaped leaflets.


Tree peonies are considered to be relatively pest free. Some susceptibility to canker, Botrytis blight, tip blight, leaf blotch and Verticillium wilt. Ants on peony buds are common and totally harmless. Japanese beetles and scale may appear. Nematodes can be troublesome.


Excellent in borders as specimens or in groups. Also effective as accents or hedges along fences, sidewalks, driveways or walls. Flowers are extremely showy, and foliage can remain attractive throughout the growing season, either alone or as a frame or backdrop for other flowering plants.