California Peony


The California peony has such an exotic appeal that it’s become a subject for decorative embroidery. We can be proud because it’s one of our native California beauties. It has a luscious look with its deep red to black petals and profusion of thick yellow stamens. If you want a flower that’s drought tolerant and sure to start conversations, plant California peony.

A True Californian

California peony grows only in southwestern California. It likes dry areas, the chaparral, slopes and sage scrub on the coast. It also grows in forest underbrush. Summer water can cause root rot, so it’s a good choice if you live in a drought-prone area.

Melancholy Beauty

The blooms are heavy and tend to droop when the stem reaches full height of just over two feet tall. The dramatically colored flowers are dotted amidst thick stands of foliage. Each plant has up to 30 stems, nearly all leaves, with two or three flowers in different stages of maturity. The blooms are about the width of two fingers.

Each flower has six to a dozen petals. The petals are thick, bright red at the top and darkening to purplish-black. The California peony is quite exotic and stands out from every other drought tolerant flower in the garden.

The Essentials

Cultivating California peony often requires the efforts of pro. The plant is demanding regarding water and drainage. It can tolerate almost no summer water and must have soil with excellent drainage. It likes loam and clay.

California peony grows best when facing north. It’s a good plant for the sloping area on your property and can survive well on the edges of your property because it’s not of interest to deer.

Early Bloomer

For the earliest spots of color in your yard, plant California peony. It blooms January through March. The flowers die off when other spring plants start to bloom.

A Worthwhile Challenge

Part of the allure of the California peony is the challenge of nurturing it to its peak growth. It’s an unusual jewel in the midst of common drought resistant plants. Flower lovers find them so beautiful that they travel to see them in the wild during their prime blooming time. California peonies in bloom are worthy of showing off to your friends.

The seed heads are also attractive after the petals fall. After blooming and going to seed, California peony dies off entirely until next spring. Finding it in bloom is as exciting to lovers of rare plants as a sighting of an infrequently seen bird to a birder.

To bring out the best in California peony, it’s essential to work with a landscaper specializing in gardening. The extra effort is worth it to see this singular beauty flourishing in your garden. Contact us if you find California peony intriguing.

Things to Remember:
• No summer water
• Soil must have excellent drainage
• California peony is one of our earliest bloomers
• It’s exotic and requires care to cultivate

Evergreen Landscaping would love to help you turn your garden dreams into a reality. Contact us for a free consultation.