Paeonia veitchii var. woodwardii

Common Name: peony 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Paeoniaceae
Native Range: Western China
Zone: 6 to 8
Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Pink to magenta
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Butterflies
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer


Easily grown in rich, fertile, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Prefers moist humusy soils. Intolerant of dry soils. Add compost as needed before planting. Each plant will flower for approximately 7-10 days. Plant other cultivars with staggered bloom times to extend the total peony bloom period to approximately 6 weeks during May and June (St. Louis area). Remove spent flowers after bloom. Cut foliage to the ground and remove from the garden in fall after frost. Plants are long-lived, do not need to be divided and can be left undisturbed for years.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Paeonia veitchii, commonly known as Veitch’s peony, is a compact, shrubby, dome-shaped, tuberous-rooted, herbaceous perennial that grows to 8-20” tall spreading over time by creeping rootstock to 36” wide. It is primarily native to mountainous grasslands, meadows and scrub in northwestern China (Gansu, Sichuan and Shaanxi provinces).

Medium green leaves are divided into oval to lance-shaped segments. Leaf veins are covered with tiny bristles. Single pink to magenta flowers bloom in late spring to early summer. Each flower (to 2-3” diameter) has 5 to 10 petals surrounding a central cluster of showy yellow anthers. Fruit is a follicle containing up to 5 seeds.

Var. woodwardia is native to open alpine areas from 9,000 to 11,000’ in Ganzu Province in China. It is more compact than the species, typically growing to only 12” tall. It features pink to rose-pink flowers. It primarily differs from the species as follows: (1) smaller plant with slightly larger flowers, (2) flowers are paler pink, and (3) bristly hairs on leaf veins are larger.

Var. woodwardia honors English botanist Thomas Jenkinson Woodward (1745-1820).

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.

Specific epithet honors James Veitch (1815-1869) and his son John Gould Veitch (1839-1870), of Exeter and Chelsea, England, or, honors the Veitch family of famous English horticulturists spanning the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.


Peonies are considered to be relatively pest free. Botyrtis blight and Phytopthora blight are sometimes problems. Ants on peony buds are common and totally harmless. If plants do not flower, possible causes include: (1) planted too deep or too shallow, (2) planted in too much shade, (3) late frost killed flower buds or (4) plant is too young or has been recently moved or disturbed. Large blooms usually need staking or other support because they tend to arch toward the ground in the best of weather and can be literally driven into the ground by a hard rain.


Peonies are a standard of the perennial border, both as specimens and in groups. Also effective as accents or herbaceous hedges along fences, sidewalks, driveways or walls. Flowers are extremely showy, and foliage remains attractive throughout the growing season either alone or as a frame or backdrop for other perennials. Smaller compact peonies are excellent additions to rock gardens.