What Is A Itoh Peony

At the moment, peonies are in the spotlight everywhere. After a few years of being lost in the English cottage garden wilderness, they have made a comeback. Peonies from Itoh, which are less well-known than herbaceous and border varieties, stole the show at the 2018 RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Primrose Hall’s entry in the Plant of the Year Competition played a part in this. The Itoh peony Paeonia ‘All That Jazz’ made the top 20 shortlist.

What are Itoh Peonies?

Toichi Itoh, a Japanese breeder who crossed a tree peony with a herbaceous peony in the late 1940s, is the inspiration for the name of the Itoh peony. Sadly, Toichi Itoh passed away before his new hybrids could bloom.

Itoh peonies are little (approximately 75–90 cm tall) plants that bloom profusely in the spring and entirely wither away in the winter. They have significantly larger flowers that last longer than herbaceous peonies, and they are frequently somewhat perfumed. The majority of the time, they can hold their weight without any staking.

Why are Itoh Peonies collectable?

It takes time to hybridize a herbaceous and tree peony. It takes 35 years for the new plant to grow and blossom once you have crossed your parent plants. Before the breeder determines whether they even like the new plant and whether the cross was successful, all of this must be done.

If the breeder approves of the outcome, the plant will be divided in the fall to produce more plants for a reliable crop. A new peony blossom must typically be bred for 1015 years before it can be sold.

They continue to be very uncommon as a result of the challenges involved in breeding Itoh peonies. Find specialized peony nurseries that can provide you with mature, well-established plants when they are ready to bloom.

Due to their scarcity, Itoh peony are also a little more expensive to buy than other varieties. There aren’t many other plants in the garden, though, that provide the same value. Itoh peony have a reputation for being extremely hardy, easy to flower, and low maintenance.

Recommended Itoh peonies

Large, blousy, lavish peonies are well recognized for their blossoms. This is furthered by the extraordinary variety of shape and color combinations found in Itoh peony. Just take a look at the magnificent blossoms of the Paeonia ‘Lollipop,’ which are a brilliant yellow with purple flecks. Semi-double pale coral flowers with violet edges can be found on Paeonia “Magical Mystery Tour.” Paeonia “Morning Lilac,” with its vivid purple flowers and golden stamens, is a real eye-catcher.

Paeonia ‘Pastel Splendor’ features lovely semi-double flowers in lavender and soft pink with a deeper burgundy flare from the center if you favor pastel colors. Paeonia ‘Joanna Marlene,’ which has enormous solitary flowers in peach, gold, and yellow, is another favorite. The blossoms resemble fruit-flavored pastel candies.

Paeonia “Court Jester,” which has an altogether new blossom shape, is a genuine delight. A single, golden-yellow flower with petals resembling a jester’s hat is present. Beautifully broad, light lavender flowers with dark purple flares at the center can be found on Paeonia ‘Cora Louise’.

Where and how can I grow Itoh peonies?

Itoh peonies are fantastic border or specimen plants in the yard and look great in large patio planters. An Itoh peony planted in a container has to be fed with a general, well-balanced feed each year.

Peonies from Itoh require very little upkeep. They are long-lived and content with little maintenance, like all peonies; in the late fall, simply remove all dead leaves to the ground. They enjoy any soil that is healthy and free-draining, prefer full sun, but will take some shade. Visit 3 rules for growing the perfect peony for additional gardening advice.

Like other peonies, Itoh peony are extremely resilient and rarely succumb to pests or illnesses. They largely resist peony blight, and damage from slugs, snails, rabbits, and deer is rare.

Why is Paeonia ‘All That Jazz’ so exciting?

The new Peony “All That Jazz” has survived the challenging hybridization process. It was introduced to the UK market in May 2019 and features all the advantages of Itoh peonies. It has strong stems, a lengthy flowering season, big blooms, and stunning colors.

Don Smith first bred “All That Jazz” with apricot undertones, burgundy basal flares, and pink specks. It is a peony with only a faint aroma and 20 cm-long bloom heads. The plants have a comparable spread and grow to a height of between 80 and 100 cm without the need for staking.

What distinguishes peony from Itoh?

Itoh peonies, which are hybrids of herbaceous and tree peonies, thrive in a variety of conditions and have magnificent foliage, enormous blooms, and a wide range of color options. In Zones 4–9, hardy.

If you delve deeper into the magnificent beauty of the Itoh peony, you’ll find an inspirational tale of tenacity. An Itoh peony is produced by crossing a typical garden peony (Paeonia lactiflora) with the eye-catching tree peony (Paenoia suffruticosa). For many years, plant breeders believed that because these two peony kinds have such dissimilar parents, a successful hybrid of them would not be possible.

Toichi Itoh, a Japanese plantsman, worked tirelessly to complete this cross. Itoh made this pursuit his life’s work and succeeded in 1948 by breeding the tree peony (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Kakoden’) with the herbaceous peony (Paenoia x lemoinei). 36 plants were born from the productive cross. Nine of those plants exhibited tree peony traits and were dubbed Itoh peonies or Itoh Hybrid peonies. Intersectional peonies and intersectional hybrids are occasionally mentioned. These plants are Itoh peony subspecies.

There were so few Itoh peonies available when they were originally made available to the public and presented to the nursery industry that the cost of one plant exceeded $1,000. The lengthy process of raising these plants to the point where they could produce divisions was reflected in the expensive price tag. The cost of Itoh peony has decreased to between $50 and $100 per plant thanks to the use of tissue culture techniques, which multiply them more quickly.

Because they produce flowers and foliage that resemble tree peonies on a plant that acts like a perennial, Itoh peonies are worth paying any price for. Each year, when the first frost hits, the plant dies back to the soil, and the next spring, fresh growth appears from the ground. This puts an end to concerns about a tree peony’s bloom buds on woody stems being damaged by a late spring frost.

When an Itoh peony’s flower buds open, they reveal big, tree peony-type blooms that are dinner-plate size and come in a variety of colors, including golds and yellows that are less common in herbaceous peony varieties. Despite the huge bloom heads, there is no need to anchor the plants because they have sturdy stems similar to those of a tree peony. A mature Itoh peony has a blooming season that can yield up to 50 blossoms.

The Itoh peony group achieves its optimum bloom time while the herbaceous peony group is completing. Itoh peonies often begin flowering when herbaceous peonies are in bloom. There is a strong, protracted floral display because many Itoh peony plants generate flowers from secondary buds that develop beneath the first flower. Three to four weeks are a luxuriously long flowering period for each Itoh peony plant.

In the garden, Itoh peony hybrids have strong resistance to powdery mildew, which afflicts herbaceous peonies, and botrytis blight, which frequently affects tree peonies. They are also deer-resistant. The Itoh peony group has blossoms that create excellent cut flowers, just like its peony progenitors. Itoh peony typically reach heights of 2 feet and a width of 3.5 feet.

What distinguishes a peony from an Itoh peony?

In nurseries, peonies are available as potted plants as well as bare roots for planting. Peonies are available as bare roots for planting both in the fall and in the spring from online merchants including Holland Bulb Farms and Tulip World. Bare root peonies planted in the spring should develop that summer, but blooms won’t likely show until the following spring. There is no need to be concerned if you have to wait a year or two for blooming because peonies have a lengthy lifespan of up to 75 years or more.

In any sunny garden bed or border, both herbaceous and Itoh hybrid peonies have a place and a purpose. The strength of the stems, the hues of the blooms, and the timing of the blooms are the key variations between the two. The Itoh hybrids bloom a little later in spring and have a tendency to have a longer bloom time than the herbaceous peonies, which bloom earlier in the season. Plant both herbaceous and Itoh hybrids to extend the bloom period if you really love peonies and have the room. The most typical hues of herbaceous peonies are pink, red, white, yellow, and peach. Although itoh hybrids are also available in variations of those hues, the variety of hues visible in the blooms is higher than that of herbaceous peonies, which tend to have more uniform hues. You can enjoy the beautiful, fragrant flowers of Itoh hybrids and herbaceous peonies for several weeks every spring for years to come by planting both varieties.

How large can Youoh peonies grow?

Itoh peony are an excellent choice when massed as a low hedge like the one shown here since they are quick-growing and also grow somewhat wider than tall (approximately 2.5 ft tall and 3.5 ft wide) (this is Singing in the Rain).

Are Itoh phlox tree phlox?

The Itoh peony, sometimes called the intersectional peony, is a cross between tree peonies and typical herbaceous peonies that combines the best features of both of its parent plants. As a result, Itohs produce massive, long-lasting blooms, sturdy stems, and lush, deeply lobed dark green foliage that lasts through the fall. Itoh peony come in a range of vivid colors, including yellow, coral, pink, red, and white, and have blossoms that can stretch out to be up to 8 inches across.

Although the foliage develops quite quickly, these plants mature rather slowly; seedlings may take three to four years to reach blooming maturity. A good, robust one-gallon nursery specimen, however, might give you blossoms in its first year because potted nursery plants are typically at least two years old before they are marketed. Expect rather slow development in the first year or two if you are purchasing bare roots via mail order.

Due to the paeonol found in the leaves, roots, and stems of peonies, they are slightly toxic to dogs, cats, and horses.

Should Itoh peonies be pruned in the autumn?

It’s simple to add peonies to your landscape. In most areas, place plants in full light. Peonies planted in shadow in colder climates will have weak stems and fewer blossoms. Choose a location with afternoon shade if you live in a warmer climate or if springs are hot and dry. Plant in loamy soil that drains well or is average. Peonies prefer soil that is moist but not saturated with water. If necessary, add compost before planting.

Planting Steps for Herbaceous and Intersectional (Itoh) Peonies

  • Select a location with well-drained soil that is far from any rival roots. Peonies grow well when given years of uninterrupted growth in the same spot.
  • Create a hole that is the length of the roots and 12″ wide. Now is the time to fill the bottom of the hole with any compost. With the eyes (buds) facing up, plant the roots 1 to 2 inches beneath the surface of the soil. Plant them 2-3 feet apart if you’re planting more than one to give yourself enough room. The peony won’t bloom if it is planted too deeply. Visit our planting manual for a thorough explanation.
  • Backfill the area surrounding the roots gradually, making sure there are no air pockets, and apply pressure to compact the soil.
  • Once the plant is placed, water it gently all around. To control weed growth as well as the warmth and moisture of the soil, use a light mulch or chopped leaves. Unless it rains or there is a lot of moisture, water will be needed every day for 5 days in the morning or evening. Don’t overwater your plants or the roots may rot.

Planting Tree Peonies

Different from herbaceous and intersectional itoh peony, planting tree peonies.

  • Select a location with well-drained soil that is far from any rival roots. If grown in the same spot for years without being disturbed, tree peonies thrive.
  • Dig a hole about 2 feet deep, the length of the roots, and about 1 foot wide to accommodate the roots and leave some room for growth. Now is the time to fill the bottom of the hole with any compost. Plant them 2-3 feet apart if you’re planting more than one to give yourself enough room.
  • Once the plant is placed, water it gently all around. When watering, wait until the earth has dried out or until it hasn’t rained. Water is necessary for tree peony to produce root growth, but too much water will cause them to decay.


Expect the roots of peony to produce 2–5 leaf shoots and 1-2 flowers in their first year of growth. Two years later, the plant is twice as big and has twice as many blooms. Peonies will be large and bushy, with loads of foliage and blooms, by their fourth or fifth year.


Itoh and tree peonies don’t need staking, but once established, the majority of herbaceous peonies produce large flowers that are frequently too heavy for their stems. You don’t have to stake them, but if you don’t, the result will be large, gorgeous blossoms that droop. Use peony rings to maintain their erect position after you have a healthy clump. The rings are simply wheel-shaped wire arrangements that rise above the peony when the plant emerges in the spring and resemble a small wire table. The peony ring is positioned with upright supports so that the shoots will push through the round wire bale. Of course, the foliage quickly covers the ring, and before the flowers even open, you have a gorgeously supported cluster. What stores carry peony rings? Gardeners Supply is something we advise.


After the blossoms have faded, cut off the spent flowers from herbaceous and (itoh) intersectional peonies at the point where the stem and foliage meet. For the balance of the growing season, leave the leaves alone. The leaves will first turn yellow before wilting as fall approaches and the weather cools. Trim back all leaves on herbaceous peonies to a height of about 3″ from the ground. As a result, the plant is kept neat and new growth can sprout without risking plant damage. Since itoh peonies are a hybrid of both herbaceous and tree peonies, they should be handled similarly in the fall. It is recommended to prune the plant once it has reached maturity so that the hard wood portion of the stem is left and the herbaceous portion is cut off. In order to distinguish between the hard wood stem and the herbaceous green stem when the leaves wither, it is recommended to leave peonies alone during their first year of growth. Itoh peony typically leave 4-5 inches of firm wood above ground when they are grown.

Different pruning methods are needed for tree peony. Just below the faded blossoms, cut the stem. Trimming the stem too much will prevent growth the next year. Next year’s woody branch will be formed from this year’s green shoots. So let the shrub alone in the fall rather than cutting it down to the ground. The optimum time to prune a mature tree peony if it needs to be shaped is shortly after it blooms. Don’t cut too much of the tree because doing so can seriously harm the plant.


It’s not necessary to fertilize peonies every year. It is advisable to put them in a fertile environment. After peonies have blossomed every couple of years, spread bonemeal, compost, or well-rotted manure in the early summer.