You may know Peonies from their characteristically large and multi-petaled blooms, but then you might be surprised to find that it’s not suitable in warmer climates and regions.
That said, can Peonies grow in Hawaii and similar tropical environments? Generally, peonies thrive in USDA zones 3 to 8, and most of Hawaii is classified as zone 11. All is not lost, however, as there are some peony species that have been cultivated to withstand hotter regions and lower chill periods. These are the peony varieties you should try if you live in Hawaii.
What Zone Can Peonies Grow In?
Garden-type peonies can be seen far and wide in zones 3 to 8, and less in zones 9 through 11 and in the lower end of the spectrum. If you wish to grow them and live outside the recommended zones then it’s best to choose the early blooming variety that will flower before the summer heat rises.
Peonies can grow in states where they get enough ‘winter chill’, or a period of cold that they need to start producing buds. Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California are just several examples where peonies can thrive and wow viewers with its bold, color-changing foliage and exquisite and fragrant flowers.
How to Grow Peonies in Warm Tropical Zones
The first thing you’ll want to do is to pick a heat tolerant peony and determine the best conditions for growing it. Keep in mind however, that peonies in warmer zones tend to have shorter-lived and smaller flowers compared to those in the recommended zones.
In Hawaii, you can grow peonies in a location that gets full morning sun and partial shade in the afternoon. They won’t survive being exposed to too much heat and humidity and will likely get stressed out. As for medium, peonies grow best in well-draining soil that’s rich and fertile.
Plant your peonies just several inches below the ground level and leave the soil as is. Mulch won’t help in this case since it will need wind and low temperature to properly set and become established. Furthermore, it’s best not to disturb them and not move them from one location to another.
Give your peony regular watering so the soil stays consistently cool and moist during the growing season. Also, remember to water deeply and until the water starts draining out through the designated hole.
Peony Species That Can Grow in Hawaii
Shirley Temple Peony
Peony ‘Shirley Temple’ is a fan-favorite because of its double flowers that start from pink to blush, then to ivory white. It’s a noteworthy addition to your garden as it’s made hardy and able to withstand hotter environments outside its optimal zone range. The profusions form and flabbergast from late spring to early summer.
Bride’s Dream Peony
Bride’s Dream Peony has thin, hairlike flower petals at the center while the outside is thicker. It’s a plant that can withstand strong rain and come back stronger than ever, thanks to its sturdy stems and vigorous growth habits. This type of peony is best grown where there’s bright light and protection from the afternoon sun.
Red Charm Peony
Based on the name you probably already know that this peony variety puts up charming and bright red blooms mid-season. The double flowers are deep crimson and steal the hearts of anyone who sees it. ‘Red Charm’ is good for hotter zones as it can thrive in warm weather and can forgive a period of short neglect.
Early Scout Peony
‘Early Scout’ is named as such because it’s one of the first peony types to bloom. The dark green foliage gives way to small yet daring red flowers with yellow hairs in the middle. The plant is reliable in that it can withstand a lot of punishment and grow vigorously when the conditions are right.
First Arrival Peony
Considered one of the best ‘Itoh’ peonies around, First Arrival rivals Early Scout in the blooms race. The plant produces magnificently huge lavender-pink blooms that can span up to 8 inches, with an interesting ‘flare’ of red-purple hue in the middle. Go up close and you’ll be reminded of roses when you smell the flowers. It’s prolific, has strong stems and works great as a border.