Perennials To Grow Alongside Your Peonies For Year-Round Color

Perennials To Grow Alongside Your Peonies For Year-Round Color

Peonies are a classic garden flower known for their voluminous blossoms in various colors. These beautiful flowers have layers upon layers of petals that produce a sweet and spicy fragrance that attracts pollinators like honeybees and butterflies. Peonies usually bloom towards the end of spring and the beginning of summer, but their blooming season can vary depending on the type of peony. Ideally, we want our gardens to look beautiful all year round, but peonies won’t offer much color past the autumn season. However, we can pair them with other perennials that will continue to bloom after peonies are done.

When pairing other perennials with peonies, it’s important to select plants with similar care needs and growing conditions that won’t harm nearby plants. As you choose an assortment of flowers that bloom at different times, here are some perennials to consider for a garden that’s never lacking in color.


boxwood shrub


Boxwood offers our gardens bright green foliage and small clusters of yellow flowers when they bloom in the months of February and March. Although their tiny blossoms won’t be seen until late winter or early spring, boxwood is mainly grown for its leaves as they stay a vibrant green year-round. These shrubs can grow up to 20 feet tall and 8 feet wide, occupying a good chunk of space on our properties. For the best winter success, mulch the base of the plant to retain heat and moisture and fertilize in spring and fall.


red roses

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Roses may be even more prevalent in our gardens than peonies; luckily, they make great companions. Once peonies shrink back, their foliage still stays bright and will compliment roses as they bloom in late spring and early autumn, depending on the kind you have planted. With roses having over 100 different species and even more types of hybrids available, you can find roses featuring blooms every season. Some roses, like Knock Outs, are known even to produce flowers year-round. With roses requiring similar care needs as peonies, you can’t go wrong with this duo.


purple wisteria flowers

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Wisteria is a stunning vining plant that bursts tiny purple flowers along its foliage, often creating a weeping willow effect as they droop. It makes a great sunny companion for peonies, and if planted in even partial shade, the plant won’t flower correctly. Since wisteria is a climber, adding trellises behind your peony bushes will make for a colorful and dimensional space. However, wisteria can be invasive to nearby plants, so exercise caution when placing them in your garden. You can expect wisteria to bloom between April and June, just like peonies, but these blossoms can last several weeks at a time as opposed to the seven to 10 days that peonies are known for.


purple and pink hydrangeas

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Hydrangeas are another incredibly common flower seen in many gardens, their large bushes and clustered blossoms never failing to liven up outdoor spaces. Like peonies, hydrangeas are quite easy to care for and grow. They bloom after our peonies as early as mid-spring, throughout summer, and into early autumn weather. Hydrangeas offer the perfect splash of color after our peonies have shrunk back for the season, with their blooms coming in numerous shades of pinks, purples, blues, and greens. Plant your hydrangeas in partial sun and space them at least 5 feet apart so they have ample space to grow and flourish.


purple azaleas


Azaleas are loved for the star-like flowers they boast in colors of reds, pinks, and purples. These evergreen shrubs keep their foliage even when out of season, ensuring some color remains long after their blooms die off. Some azaleas can grow more than 20 feet tall, but dwarf varieties can be selected if you’re looking for something smaller. Dwarf azaleas only grow 2 to 3 feet tall and make for the perfect shrub to plant in front of your peonies. Azaleas bloom throughout spring, and their florals last for many weeks. Some Encore varieties even flower again in the fall, such as Autumn Amethyst, Autumn Embers, and Autumn Chiffon.


orange daylilies

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Daylilies will find a spot in your garden whether you are looking to implement shades of oranges and yellows or pinks and purples. These fast-growing and easy-to-care-for perennials blossom just after your peonies start to shrink back for the year. Starting their blooming season in the summer, you can expect them to continue well into the start of fall. Preferring full sunlight, daylilies will provide you with new flowers each day. They can grow well in partial shade; however, you may see a drop in flower production.


purple alliums

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Alliums are ornamental onion plants that produce vibrant clusters of flowers in near-perfect spheres. These perennials make a good match for peonies as they bloom a bit sooner than them. As allium starts to flower, their foliage becomes sparse, and their stems start to look leggy and empty. Peonies will begin opening around the time that allium begins to lose its leaves, covering up the eye-sore their stems offer and replacing it with bright, lovely florals. Additionally, the tight bulbs of allium are a great contrast in shape to the open and layered blossoms our peonies provide.


purple iris flowers

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There are more than 250 species of irises we can feature in our gardens, the bearded irises being among one of the most commonly grown. These bright flowers are distinguished by their unique shape, which typically features drooping petals on the outside of the blossom, while some petals stand tall in the middle. Although their blooming season may differ based on variety, many irises will bloom from spring into the early months of summer, beginning to die back gradually as peonies start their blooming season. Like peonies, the iris prefers full sunlight and aerated soils.


purple and white alyssum

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Alyssum is a low-to-the-ground growing shrub that produces tiny flowers that contrast well with the large, expansive ones from peonies. Only growing 3 to 9 inches tall, they make great garden borders and filler plants for the front of our peonies. Since alyssum prefers partial shade and peonies like the attention of full sunlight, the overhanging growth peonies provide alyssum will make for the shaded growing conditions in which they thrive. In climates that see mild winters with few frosts, your alyssum may grow well throughout each season. This perennial is also often called sweet alyssum for its candied aroma, attracting all sorts of friendly pollinators.

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Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.