The Dark Beauties - Mesmerizing Red Peonies

Peony varieties come in a multitude of colors in varying shades of coral, green, maroon, orange, pink, red, salmon, white and yellow. There are blended colors, bi-colors and tri-colors. Many peonies have a distinct hue – slightly different from the all the others. If you put 20 different red peonies in vases and compared the colors, you would likely be looking at 20 different shades of red.

When it comes to red peonies, the spectrum of color ranges from bright red, true red, orange-red and a magnitude of other hues. Color definitions are really defined by the ‘eye of the beholder’. Dark red peonies might be described as mahogany, wine or sangria. Some of them are so dark, that I refer to them as black-reds, such as ‘Bob’, ‘Black Swan’ and the Itoh intersectional peony ‘Chief Black Hawk’. While not quite as dark, ‘Old Faithful’ is certainly a stunning deep red peony.

Cloud cover during bloom season will intensify the color of many peony petals; just as lots of sun can soften the hue from year to year. I don’t detect color variation on ‘Chief Black Hawk' or ‘Old Faithful’ from season to season. ‘Bob’, while always mesmerizing, can be darker during cool, cloudy springs.

Here of some of the rich, dark red peonies. How do you describe them?

  Two photos of 'Bob' - same plant!

'Bob’ (R.W.Tischler)  Deep, dark mahogany-red with golden-yellow stamens. Young plants often produce Japanese style peony flowers. Mature plants can produce both Japanese style and full doubles, sometimes ‘bomb’ style flowers. You can have three distinct flower styles on one plant! Grows to 32" tall. 

  ‘Black Swan’ (A.L. Murawska) Deep maroon black, early mid-season. 28” tall. Formerly called A.L. Murawska.  (I have only grown this peony for a few years – and it has captivated me, as I anticipated.)

  ‘Chief Black Hawk’ (Anderson-Kornder) Dark black-red Itoh intersectional peony with a beautiful sheen to the petals. 34” tall. Mid-season. One of the darkest intersectional peonies.

  ‘Old Faithful’ (Glasscock-Falk) Magnificent dark red with petals of heavy substance.  Strong stems. Dark green foliage. Late season. 36” – 38” tall. Such an outstanding peony, hybridizers seek to replicate the stem strength and flower form of this plant. (American Peony Society Gold Medal peony).

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