Peony Companion Plants: 21 Plants To Grow With Peonies

If you are looking for some plants to grow with your peonies this season, you've landed in the right place! Peonies are a garden favorite, and with their beautiful blooms, it's easy to see why. In this article, certified master gardener Laura Elsner examines her favorite companion plants to grow with peonies this season.

Peonies and Hosta Companion

Peonies are the pride and joy of many gardeners. Their massive, fluffy flowers are hard to beat! I especially love the look of them nestled into a garden bed. They are so easy to layer together with other plants to create a lovely mosaic of blossoms all throughout the garden season.

When I pair plants together I think about what I am trying to achieve in the garden. Do I want a companion whose blooms will accent the other plant? Do I want one to bloom and the other quietly wait its turn? Am I playing with the structures and heights of the plants? There are many aspects to consider when pairing plants together.

Take the time to think about bloom time, the bloom colors, foliage texture and color, and the height of different plants and how they will play off one another in a garden setting. There are also many different types of peonies to consider when pairing with other plants. Keeping all those aspects in mind, here are some of the best peony companions to mix and match within your garden.

Allium

Purple Round Flowers Accompanied by Pink Fluffy Flowers in a Garden
Allium blooms with magnificent large purple flowers in the shape of a ball.
Scientific Name: Allium
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous Perennial
  • Size: Variety dependant usually 3′ high x 1′ wide
  • Bloom Time: Spring
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • Hardiness Zone: 3-9

Full disclosure, I am obsessed with allium. I plant them in all my client’s gardens in the fall. One of the most underrated plants in my opinion. They are so simple to grow but provide a huge spring impact. Most perennials take three years to establish, but allium looks great the season after planting.

These flowers bloom before peonies, so it’s nice to plant the bulbs in and amongst peonies. The allium will grow upward and sprout a big purple (usually, but can be white, pink, or yellow, depending on the variety) lollipop.

The benefit of planting these with peonies is that the foliage that accompanies the long flower starts to die as soon as the flower blossoms. It looks kind of scrappy and ugly. If the allium is planted amongst the peonies, however, the foliage of the peony will hide this unsightly yellow foliage.

Alyssum

Large Red Flowers Planted With Short Bright Yellow Flowers
Alyssum is an annual plant that is bursting with fragrant white or purple flowers.
Scientific Name: Aurinia saxatilis
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Size: 6″ high 1′ wide
  • Bloom Time: Spring
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Hardiness Zone: 3-7

If you want a classic cottage garden, this is a perfect combination. It is a low-growing, annual plant that is bursting with fluffy sweet smelling flowers. I like a long sweeping border of it outlining a garden bed. It is a perfect outline for underneath big peony plants with their large solid blossoms.

Plus, the smell of certain peonies along with the sweet alyssum’s floral scent together is just heavenly. Try pairing cheery yellow alyssum with red-colored peonies such as ‘buckeye belle’ or ‘red charm’ for a striking combination.

Annabelle Hydrangea

White Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle' Flowers Close up
Annabelle hydrangea blooms with gorgeous white flowers during peony bloom.
Scientific Name: Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’
  • Plant Type: Flowering shrub
  • Size: 2-15′ high and 4-6′ wide
  • Bloom Time: Mid to late summer into autumn
  • Sun Exposure: Full or partial sun
  • Hardiness Zone: 3-9

Annabelle hydrangea is a late-season smooth hydrangea. But it gets fairly big and bushy, with large light green rounded leaves. The flowers are usually only starting to form when the peony is in bloom. They make a perfect leafy backdrop to the beautiful blooming peony. Later on, the hydrangea will steal the show.

While Annabelle hydrangeas are often touted as a shade plant, I actually think they are better suited to more sun. I’ve seen them grow happily in full sun, as long as they are given extra water. An eastern exposure full of peonies and Annabelles would be a lovely combination.

Clematis

Star-Shaped Pale Purple Flowers Climbing a Trellis Behind Pink Flowers
Clematis is a climbing shrub that makes a great backdrop for blooming peonies.
Scientific Name: Clematis
  • Plant Type: Perennial vine
  • Size: Variety dependant, up to 30′ high x 20′ wide
  • Bloom Time: Variety dependant, spring to summer
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • Hardiness Zone: 3-9

Clematis makes a fantastic green backdrop of foliage growing along a trellis or fence for a peony to be in front of. There are many different varieties of clematis that bloom at various times.

The vigorous alpine clematis blooms very early in the spring. The trusty Jackmanii variety blooms later, and they may even bloom at the same time as peonies. Not that it matters if they bloom simultaneously or one after the other, the lush green backdrop looks great with peonies.

The added benefit for clematis is that they like cool shady feet. Peonies are up and out of the ground early on. They can provide shade to the bottom of clematis and protect it.

Columbine

Yellow Aquilegia Flowers Close up
Columbine is able to sow seeds on its own, which allows it to grow in some unexpected places.
Scientific Name: Aquilegia
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Size: 2-3′ high x 18″ wide
  • Bloom Time: Summer
  • Sun Exposure: Partial sun to light shade
  • Hardiness Zone: 3-8

Peonies make great anchor plants in a garden. They are reliable, they grow larger over time (if they’re in the correct conditions) and will always stay put. With peonies firmly situated in the garden adding structure and stability to your garden, you can start playing with the garden nomads.

This of course depends on your garden aesthetic. If you are into clean and orderly lines, plant only plants that stay in their place. But if you like a blur of color and textures, adding flowers that wander and fill spaces is just the thing. 

This brings me to the perfect garden nomad, columbine. Columbine is a semi-aggressive garden flower. It self-seeds and wanders around a garden. If they pop up in places they shouldn’t, they are easily pulled out.

The flowers can’t be described since there are so many unique varieties. Some are ruffled and hang down, some are double-flowered like a rose, and some are single-flowered coming in a wide variety of colors. They bloom in the spring around the same time as peonies and add interest and beauty to the garden wherever they pop up.

Coneflower

Pink Echinacea Flowers Growing in a Garden
Coneflower is a popular perennial that blooms with huge flowers toward the end of the season.
Scientific Name: Echinacea
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Size: 2-4′ high x 1-2′ wide
  • Bloom Time: Late summer to fall
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Hardiness Zone: 3-9

Coneflowers are an excellent option for pairing with peonies if you are looking to layer your garden with blossoms. Peonies’ bloom time is relatively short and it happens early in the season. While I do like strategically stacking some flowers together so they bloom in unison (like salvia and peony), I also like stacking perennials so there is always something in bloom.

If you only have plants that bloom when the peonies do, the big peony blossoms almost get lost in the clutter. I don’t mind having a flower or two to accent them, but too many blooms can appear chaotic.

This is where coneflowers come into play. It is only a plain little green perennial when the peonies are ready to explode. The stems have simple green pointed leaves and is medium height. It is not exciting or wonderful or anything when the peony blooms. Just a green background.

But, in late summer/early fall when peonies are just a fading memory, coneflower takes over with its huge daisy-like blossoms. They are spectacular and provide color later in the season, making them a great companion for peonies.

Creeping Jenny

Lysimachia with Gold Flower Close up
Creeping Jenny is a ground cover plant that adds lush pops of color to gardens.
Scientific Name: Lysimachia nummularia
  • Plant Type: Perennial flowering plant
  • Size: 2″ high, spreading
  • Bloom Time: Summer
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • Hardiness Zone: 3-9

Creeping Jenny, or Lysimachia, is a vigorous ground cover that acts as a natural mulch for gardens, keeping the moisture in and the weeds down. It adds a layer of green at the base of peony plants.

My favorite is golden Lysimachia which is a bright yellow color and really adds a pop of contrast to the even green peony foliage. It really adds a lushness to gardens.

Daylily

Yellow Lily Flowers Planted Next to Large Bright Pink Flower
Daylilies bloom later than peonies, often with orange or yellow flowers.
Scientific Name: Hemerocallis
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Size: Variety dependant, commonly 2′ x 2′
  • Bloom Time: Summer
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Hardiness Zone: 3-9

Daylilies make a great garden companion to many plants. Their grassy mounds of foliage add a soft texture to garden borders. They usually bloom slightly after peonies (although this is variety-dependent). So after the peony blossoms start to fade, the long stalks of daylily blossoms are ready to take over.

There are many unique varieties of daylilies available now. So if their orange color doesn’t suit your garden filled with soft pink peonies and light blue delphinium, try a soft pink variety of daylily. The ‘romantic rose’ daylily has large ruffly pink blossoms that fit in perfectly with a whimsical garden.

Hosta

Pink Fluffy Flowers Planted Next to Perennial Plant
Hostas and peonies can make excellent companions if both plants are placed in partial shade.
Scientific Name: Hosta
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Size: Variety dependant
  • Bloom Time: Midsummer
  • Sun Exposure: Partial sun to partial shade
  • Hardiness Zone: 3-9

This combination may be a bit more unexpected since hostas are normally thought of as shade plants, whereas peony is the queen of the sun. But they actually can meet somewhere in the middle.

Hostas, especially the lighter green foliaged ones, can actually take a fair amount of sun. ‘Sum and Substance’, or ‘Dancing Queen’ are examples of lighter foliage hostas fit for the sun.

Peonies actually do not enjoy being in the blazing heat of the day. A part-sun location will keep their blooms intact for longer. So, finding a part sun location, maybe an eastern exposure is a happy medium for both perennials.

I love the variation in height that a peony rising out of a hosta garden provides. Also if staggering blooms are what you are after, a peony will bloom in the late spring/early summer and then a hosta will shoot up stalks of lavender flowers in the mid-late summer.

Iris

Purple Flowers Growing Next to Pale Pink Large Flowers
Irises bloom a little earlier than peonies.
Scientific Name: Iris
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Size: Variety dependant
  • Bloom Time: Spring-early summer
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Hardiness Zone: 3-9

If a profusion of blooms is what you are after, layer peonies with irises to have a spectacular display of blooms. The iris usually blooms slightly before, and during the peonies’ bloom (this depends on variety and sun exposure).

If you get it just right, the irises will be slowly fading as the peonies are just opening, with considerable overlap. The intricate shape of an iris blossom contrasts perfectly against a flowy peony flower.

When their bloom times are over, the hard spiky iris foliage stands out against the rounded lacy foliage of the peony. Add some later summer flowers in to continue the interest (delphinium, shasta daisy, etc.).

Larkspur

Tall Purple Flowers Planted With Beautiful Pink Flowers
Larkspur, or delphinium, is the perfect companion for peonies as they bloom at the same time and provide height variation.
Scientific Name: Delphinium
  • Plant Type: Annual or Perennial
  • Size: Variety dependant, typically 2′ wide x 6′ tall
  • Bloom Time: Summer
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • Hardiness Zone: 3-7

Larkspurs are considered a type of Delphinium. Delphinium and peonies are made for each other! This is a classic pairing in an English garden. Plant peonies in front of the delphinium. They don’t always bloom at exactly the same but delphinium provides a perfect backdrop of lacy foliage behind the peony for its floral show.

After the peony finishes its bloom, the delphinium takes over and steals the show with its long stalks of flowers. Depending on your varieties of peony and delphinium, and their sun exposure, there might be a little or a lot of overlap of blooms. They truly are a match made in heaven.

Lupine

Tall Purple Flowers Growing Next to Bright Pink Flowers
Lupines flower before peonies, making them a great flower pairing.
Scientific Name: Lupinus
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Size: 1-2′ wide x 1-4′ high
  • Bloom Time: Early summer
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Hardiness Zone: 4-8

Be careful with lupine, they can be aggressive and unwanted in some areas. Make sure to deadhead the seed pods. However, there is nothing quite like the deeply lobed foliage of lupine and its upright plumes of flowers in all sorts of colors.

When it comes to planting lupine with peonies, they make a perfect pair. The lupine’s tall perennial blooms are spectacular and will happen just before the peonies start to open. They both have breathtaking flowers that steal the show. Having one bloom right after the other keeps your garden visually interesting.

The foliage of both plants has interest too. Lupines have deeply lobed leaves and peonies have lacey lobed leaves. They look great in the garden together.

Masterwort

Pink Astrantia Flowers Blooming in a Garden
Masterwort produces small delicate flowers that bloom almost at the same time as peonies.
Scientific Name: Astrantia
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Size: 3′ tall x  3′ wide
  • Bloom Time: Summer
  • Sun Exposure: Partial sun
  • Hardiness Zone: 4-8

Masterwort is a lovely perennial. It can get to be around the same size, or slightly bigger, than a peony. It has these small fireworks of flowers that are so intricate and delicate. I am constantly snapping pictures of them in my garden!

These flowers bloom around the same time as peonies, but their blossoms stick around much longer than fleeting peonies’ petals. They both come in soft delicate colors of pinks and whites. However, the masterwort flowers are small and spikey, which is a great contrast to the full fluffy peony blossoms. They also both have interesting, deeply lobed foliage, which looks similar and blends together nicely.

Monkshood

Tall Purple Aconitum Growing in Large Garden
Monkshood blooms after the peonies have bloomed.
Scientific Name: Aconitum
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Size: 3-5′ high x 2′ wide
  • Bloom Time: Late summer
  • Sun Exposure: Part shade
  • Hardienss Zone: 3-7

Monkshood is a great alternative to delphinium. I almost like it more. It stands tall and sturdy and doesn’t require any staking. The same lacy tall foliage as delphinium surrounds it, which makes a great green backdrop for peonies.

The blooms appear later in the summer after the peonies have bloomed. It has tall stalks of flowers that come in purple, white, or pink. The flowers themselves look like little hooded monks (as their name suggests!).

Monkshood is a great option for gardens that are plagued with critters such as deer or rabbits. They are very poisonous and deter everything from munching on them.

Painted Daisy

Pink Tanacetum coccineum With Yellow Centers
Painted daisies produce beautiful pink and red flowers blooming at the same time as peonies.
Scientific Name: Tanacetum coccineum
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Size: 2′ high x 2′ wide
  • Bloom Time: Summer
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Hardiness Zone: 3-7

Painted daisy is lovely with big colorful flowers that rise out of airy ferny foliage. They typically come in shades of pink and red. Peonies and painted daisies bloom around the same time and are around the same size, only perhaps slightly smaller.

The simple flower structure of the daisies makes a nice compliment to the more intricate folds and ruffles of a peony. I also like the ferny texture foliage of the painted daisy. It is light and airy next to the solid leaf structure of a peony.

Pansy

Colorful Viola Flowers Planted in a Garden With Large Pink Flowers
Pansies, like peonies, prefer to grow in a cool spring garden.
Scientific Name: Viola tricolor var. hortensis
  • Plant Type: Short-lived perennial
  • Size: 8″ x 8″
  • Bloom Time: All season
  • Sun Exposure: Partial sun
  • Hardiness Zone: 7-10 (cool season annuals)

Pansies are reliable bloomers and their large flat flowers are a perfect contrast to the big fluffy peony flowers. Both pansies and peonies like cool climates and a nice cool spring garden. They will both fizzle out in conditions that are too hot.

I personally don’t like going too crazy with my color combinations when it comes to planting with peonies. The simplicity and elegance of the large solid peony blossoms lose some of their beauty when there is too much other color ‘noise’ around.

Opting for a solid-colored pansy such as Matrix White or Matrix True Blue is preferable to enhance the beauty of the peony without distraction. Violas are another lovely option. The small flowers create a blanket of groundcover for the peonies to rise out of. White violas and pink peonies for the win!

Rose

Pink Rosa Flowers in a Sunny Garden
Roses and peonies can thrive in your garden, giving it a variety of colors with proper care.
Scientific Name: Rosa
  • Plant Type: Woody perennial
  • Size: Variety dependant
  • Bloom Time: Summer
  • Sun Exposure: Full to partial sun
  • Hardiness Zone: Variety dependant

Roses may be fussy and require a bit more maintenance. But when you get it right, the blooms of peonies and roses coexist in perfect harmony. I’ve seen delicate frilly light pink roses next to peonies of the same color and can hardly tell the difference.

Except that the roses will keep on blooming and the peonies are larger and more spectacular when they bloom.

Layer them in between each other to create a seamless blossoming effect. Play with shades of pink, red, and white in the roses and/or peonies to really amp up the contrast.

Salvia

Dark Purple Salvia Towering Over a Garden
Salvia has gorgeous dark purple flowers that look wonderful next to peonies.
Scientific Name: Salvia
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Size: Variety dependent, commonly 2-3′ high x 2-3′ wide
  • Bloom Time: Early summer
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Hardiness Zone: 3-10

I love salvia and peonies together. The long deep purple spikes of flowers look especially excellent next to light pink varieties of peonies, such as the very popular Sarah Bernhardt variety.

Salvia and peonies bloom at the same time and are similar similar heights making them a striking floral combination. They even look great together in bouquets. This is a winning combination. Did I mention bees just love salvia? I can hear salvia in the summer, buzzing with the little pollinators.

Sea Holly

Purple Spiky Flowers Up Close
Sea Holly produces spiky flowers that take on a bluish-purple hue just as the peony stops blooming.
Scientific Name: Eryngos
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Size: 2-3′ high × 1-3′ wide
  • Bloom Time: Summer
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Hardiness Zone: 3-9

This perennial is a bit unexpected, but it totally works. I just discovered this flower as a companion for peonies in a perennial bed. The full structure of the plant was up when the peonies were blooming.

They are similar heights, when the sea holly is just starting to produce its spiky bloom. It is colorless and only provides structure while the peonies steal the show with their huge blossoms.

Then, once the peony stops blooming, the sea holly blossoms their lovely bluish purple hue. It’s unexpected and quite lovely. Another great thing about sea holly is that the blooms last a long time in a garden, unlike a peony’s short show.

Snow in Summer

White Blanket of Cerastium tomentosum Flowers
‘Snow in summer’ is a beautiful groundcover plant known for its silvery foliage and snow-white flowers.
Scientific Name: Cerastium tomentosum
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Size: 8″ high, spreading
  • Bloom Time: Early summer
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Hardiness Zone: 3-8

Snow in Summer is a lovely perennial ground cover with velvety silver foliage. It looks great at the foot of a peony. It blooms a carpet of snow white flowers around the same time as the peony. This combination looks so romantic and whimsical.

It is especially nice when planted with darker flowered peonies, such as ‘Kansas’, ‘Karl Rosenfield’, or ‘Chocolate Soldier’. The contrast of the foliage looks great at all times even when the plants aren’t in bloom.

Sweet Woodruff

White Galium odoratum Flowers Close up
This great groundcover acts as a natural mulch to keep the soil moist.
Scientific Name: Galium odoratum
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Size: 10″ high spreading
  • Bloom Time: Spring-early summer
  • Sun Exposure: Partial to full sun
  • Hardiness Zone: 4-8

Sweet woodruff is a lovely ground cover. It has small glossy delicate foliage that looks great planted at the base of peonies as a ground cover. It also acts as a natural mulch to keep the ground moist and the weeds down.

This plant bursts tiny white star flowers around the same time as the peonies flower, sometimes earlier depending on location and variety. The dense small flowers are a perfect accent to the big bold peony. This is one of my favorites, and I think underrated ground covers.

Final Thoughts

A peony on its own is lovely, but only blooms for a couple of weeks. Just like people, individuals are great, but as a collective, they can do amazing things. A garden is a collection of individual plants that create harmony. Try adding some companions with your peonies to really make your garden shine this season!

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