If You Love Roses But Hate The Thorns, Here’s What You Can Plant Instead

Published
If You Love Roses But Hate The Thorns, Here's What You Can Plant Instead

If You Love Roses But Hate The Thorns, Here’s What You Can Plant Instead

Magicflute002/Getty Images

Roses are adored by many, whether they’re in a garden or a bouquet. Holding them on a special occasion is one thing, but trying to hold them while working outside is another – those pretty flowers have painful thorns. If you’re sick of getting pricked, try peonies as an alternative. They’re just as beautiful but not as painful since they don’t have little thorns waiting for a finger.

Though they look similar, they don’t function quite the same. Their needs differ slightly, and they bloom at different times of the year, which could be a drawback of choosing peonies over garden roses. However, their blooms are spectacular and are well worth the wait. Garden rose and peony plants look similar, so if you’re trying to achieve a certain feel in your garden, you’ll match it pretty well with peonies. Better yet, you’ll find that peony plant prices are about the same as roses, depending on the varieties. It turns out you’ll get to save your finger and your wallet some pain!

Peonies fulfill your garden rose desires

pink peonies

zzz555zzz/Shutterstock

Part of the draw of garden roses is their looks, so when you need an alternative, you’ll want the same vibe. Peonies are up to the task of being elegant and eye-catching, and they will live up to your garden rose expectations. The flowers themselves look similar, too. Garden roses are loved for their ruffled appearance. They usually have about 20 petals per stem, giving them that delicate tissue paper look. Peonies knock it out of the park with up to 50 petals per stem. If more ruffles mean more beauty, you’ll want to pick peonies every time.

Peony flowers are typically larger than garden roses, making up for the shorter bloom period. They have a lighter scent than roses, which may not satisfy everyone, but they still have a delightful perfume. Both flowers are available in the common colors of yellow, white, red, and pink, but they also come in a broader range of hues, like coral or burgundy. However, you’ll find more variety with peonies.

Caring for peonies vs. garden roses

pale pink roses and peonies

Kiara Bloom/Getty Images

Peonies don’t have the same care requirements as garden roses, though they are quite similar. Peonies need full sun and consistently moist soil for their first year. Roses can tolerate partial shade, but peonies won’t develop as many blooms if they don’t get enough sunlight. Confusing their sun requirements could cost you some blooms! Peonies grow in clumps and will need to be divided in the fall if the number of blooms declines after several years. Peonies are long-lived, so you can expect to keep this plant around for many years.

Cut back peonies each year to remove dead and diseased branches. The plant will grow new stems next year, so you don’t need to fret over cutting the wrong branches. Garden roses can bloom on old or new growth, depending on which kind of plant you have. Pruning roses takes some time to get it right, but peonies are pretty straightforward.

✿ Read More About Flowers.

Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.