A rose peony is a peony cultivar which has a strong rose-like scent. Rose peonies grow in USDA zones three through seven in a variety of soil conditions, and they are known for being very hardy and easy to care for, which can be an advantage in the eyes of many gardeners. Classically, these plants are grown in a clustered mass to create a bold patch of color and scent in the garden, although they can also be used as borders along garden paths and some flowerbeds. Like other peonies, the rose peony can get a bit ragged as it grows, which is an important consideration when deciding where to plant it.
Peonies have been grown in China for centuries, with several different species being domesticated and bred to produce a variety of cultivars. The rose peony belongs to Paeonia lactiflora, the herbaceous peonies, and will grow to a height of around three feet (one meter). It has dark green glossy leaves, and the flowers can vary from white to purple in color. The flowers also look slightly like roses, but the name more accurately describes the scent than the appearance of the rose peony.
Rose peonies are perennials, and there are examples in Chinese gardens which are hundreds of years old, demonstrating how hardy these plants can be. They prefer to be grown in full sun to part shade, in rich, well-drained soil which is fertilized annually. The plants should ideally be grown in a location which is sheltered from the wind, and in warmer zones, it may be necessary to provide afternoon shade so that the rose peony does not become stressed.
As a rose peony grows, it may need to be staked for support, especially once it starts blooming. Peonies can get droopy if they are left unsupported. The rose peony can also be shaped with judicious pruning, and it does very well as a cut flower, for people who want to bring the distinctive fragrance into their homes. A mixed patch of rose peonies can yield an array of shades of color, or gardeners can choose to plant a single color for more uniformity.
These plants will propagate themselves over time, and they can become overcrowded if they are not periodically thinned. It is also important to avoid heavily covering the roots with soil or mulch, and to keep grass and weeds clear of peony bushes so that the plants have room to grow.