The Bowl of Beauty peony has been cultivated for over 2000 years. They bloom from late spring to early summer, acting as a gorgeous seasonal transition. Its name comes from the outer fuchsia petals that create a “bowl” around the pale yellow center of each flower. They’re fragrant, resting on strong stems above the leaves, and have proven to be very attractive to butterflies (as well as resistant to deer and rabbits). This beautiful peony has even received the Award of Garden Merit, given to plants that are stable in form and color, excellent for use in the appropriate conditions, and resistant to most pests and diseases.
History of the Bowl of Beauty
While known scientifically as the paeonia lactiflora, the Bowl of Beauty is loved for its abundant blossoms. It's native to central Asia, all the way from Siberia to northern China. They are low maintenance and can bloom for years if left undisturbed. Keep in mind, though, that this type of peony doesn’t do well with transplanting--so where you choose to put the plant is where it should stay if you want it to thrive.
Peonies, in general, produce some of the best cut flowers, and the Bowl of Beauty is no exception. Many florists and brides choose to include them in their bouquets as they can survive for over a week if the stems are cut when budding. Even though its roots are in central Asia, it’s widely considered to be part of the Japanese peony variety due to how the stamens evolved to look more like smaller petals (or petaloids).
How to Grow a Bowl of Beauty
Because these plants bloom so heavily, they’re perfect for a background to a flower bed or a garden border where the flowers can help create the dynamic of your garden without overtaking it. Although you’ll need to watch for honey fungus and peony wilt, the Bowl of Beauty is mostly pest-free and easy to grow.
Growing the Plant: Where and When
The Bowl of Beauty can be grown in zones four through 8. It can add beauty to a garden whether it’s utilized in informal hedges, walkway borders, city beds, large pots, or home gardens. Peonies grow their best in full sun, so try to avoid heavily shaded areas or garden beds under trees (though there has been some success when planted in partial shade). Since it’s a perennial plant, it will continue to grow and bloom every spring to summer.
Bowl of Beauty peonies grow fast, reaching at most two feet tall and three feet wide. As such, you may need to stake the plant to help its growth and prevent it from falling towards the ground. It’s recommended that the peony plants (or bulbs) are planted in the fall, if possible. This will give them time to root into the soil before the winter and start their growth again the following spring. (Note: They don’t always bloom the first year, so be patient. You may not see buds until the following spring season.)
Well-Drained Soil and Minimal Watering
Bowl of Beauty peonies should be planted in soil that has good drainage; however, peonies are very hardy plants. The Bowl of Beauty can usually survive even in light, heavy, sandy, clay, or moist soils; however, you’ll yield the best result with well-drained, neutral soil. They should be watered regularly once a week, though you may need to water more frequently if your area is experiencing extreme heat or if you’re growing your peony in a pot.
A Step-By-Step Growing Guide
Bowl of Beauty peonies can be grown from bulbs, seeds, or plants. For this guide, we’ll look at how to best grow a Bowl of Beauty if you’re starting from a plant that has already sprouted.
- Pick out an ideal spot for your peony. It should be full of sun, away from areas where water usually pools. Remember: they don’t transplant well.
- Make sure it has enough room to grow. The Bowl of Beauty can grow up to three feet wide, so you want to make sure it has ample space to thrive.
- Plant the peony so it has enough time to root before the winter, helping ensure its survival to next season.
- Water once a week, or as needed during harsh weather conditions. If your peony is in a pot, wait to water until the soil has drained to a medium moisture.
- Remember that your peony may not bloom the first year. If no flowers grow, don’t worry. Keep watering as necessary and allow it to thrive.
- That’s it! Peonies are perennials and should bloom without trouble the following season.
Bowl of Beauty Photo Gallery
Flowers in Bloom
A small bunch of Bowl of Beauty peonies grow together on the plant.
Bowl of Beauty Profile
From the side, we can get a good look at the bowl shape that earned this flower its name.
A Bowl of Beauty peony bud grows on the plant. We can see a bit of the petals starting to peek through.
After the Rain
You can see how the water droplets are weighing heavily on the petals. It's important to stake the plant as it grows to keep the whole thing from toppling over.
Field of Beauty
A closeup of the Bowl of Beauty peonies in bloom!
Slight Color Differences
Sometimes the fuchsia color of the outer petals can appear a little more purple in certain lights.
More Closed than Open
A peony as it's just starting to open up.
A Little More Rain
This Bowl of Beauty has been more affected by heavy water, but its beauty still shines through.
Mixed in a Garden
The Bowl of Beauty makes a lovely accent flower amidst other greenery in the garden.
A Closeup of the Petaloids
You can see how the inner part of the flower, where the stamen are, have started to resemble miniature petals.
Different from Other Peonies
Here you can see how the Bowl of Beauty, number three, differs in appearance from other varieties of peony plants.
Even on the same plant, the shape and size of the Bowl of Beauty flower can vary.
This peony plant has flowers at various points of their lives from budding to fully bloomed.
Perfect for Cutting
Bowl of Beauty peonies have a long vase life, especially when cut as a bud. They can live for over a week in a bouquet.
A mix of flowers and buds have been cut and put into a vase.
A single Bowl of Beauty peony sits in a delicate vase. Even by itself, this flower holds up.
A Gorgeous Bouquet
Bouquets of Bowl of Beauty peonies are quite popular among florists and brides-to-be.
Where Can I Buy the Bowl of Beauty?
In addition to purchasing plants at stores, you can order Bowl of Beauty peony bulbs and seeds online. Bowl of Beauty peonies are even sold as rootstocks, so you can grow your own flowers from roots that have already been successfully established. Below are a few options to get you started!
Heirloom Bowl of Beauty
These high quality seeds come five in a pack and give you the chance to grow your peony from start to finish. Get them on Amazon here.
Bowl of Beauty Rootstock
These rootstocks have a varying number of roots, but each one comes with three to five eyes for optimal flower blooming. Plant the rootstock so the eyes are about two inches beneath the earth, and make sure the soil under the roots is firm to prevent settling. Get them on Amazon here.
Bowl of Beauty Bulb
Purchase a bulb to grow your peony from! These are plantable in the fall and will root before the winter, allowing your plant to start growing next spring. Get them on Amazon here.