Cardinal Vaughan Peony (Step-by-Step Growing Guide, Pictures and more)

Cardinal Vaughan Peonies are a peony variety that has semi-double flowers that vary in shades between ruby and purple. Their leaves are dark green with blueish-green undersides and they bloom with their petals in a loose bowl shape. The royal color makes it the perfect plant to use as a single bright focal point for your garden, or cut as part of a vibrant bridal bouquet. They are a truly unique plant and can be hard to find, so if you happen to run across one, you will definitely wan to add it to your garden!

Cardinal Vaughan PeonyCardinal Vaughan Peony

The Cardinal Vaughan peony is a Chinese peony and is classified as a deciduous peony, meaning that it sheds its leaves annually. It's also known as Rock's Tree peony and a Moutan peony. This flower is a type of tree peony and its botanical name is Paeonia x suffruticosa 'Cardinal Vaughan': Paeonia x suffruticosa refers to the type of peony it is, which is the tree peony.

During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the government-appointed the Paeonia x suffruticosa as China's national flower. Even now the Paeonia x suffruticosa maintains cultural significance in China. It's known as the king of flowers and symbolizes wealth, honor, love, affection and feminine beauty. It's been portrayed frequently throughout Chinese history in Chinese works of literature and art.

The Cardinal Vaughan peony belongs to the Paeoniaceae family and its genus name is Paeonia. This species of peony is slow-growing and can greatly vary in color.

Growing Cardinal Vaughan Peonies

Cardinal Vaughan peonies have their own unique planting needs, and it's important to understand their needs before deciding to plant them.


Cardinal Vaughan peonies can grow up to 7 feet tall and can spread out up to 5 feet. Their size makes them perfect for planting along fences and they bloom during the summer. They are low maintenance and can last more than 20 years.

It's important to plant this type of peony in the spring and early fall, so the roots have enough time to settle and establish themselves. Keep in mind where you want to plant the peonies, as they don't do well with transplanting and they need to be in an area where the water can drain properly.

Growing Zones and Weather

Cardinal Vaughan peonies can tolerate growing zones 5 to 8 and are part sun to full sun. This type of peony might not assume its full blooming potential if it doesn't have the right amount of sunlight.


Fertilizer with phosphorous is great for encouraging good root development in young plants, so it's ideal to add fertilizer of your choice. The Cardinal Vaughan peony can tolerate sandy loam soil to clay loam soil with a pH range of 5.5 to 7.5.


Cardinal Vaughan peonies need to be watered with about an inch of water per week, possibly more in situations of intense heat. You can also water them when the top 3 inches of their soil is dry.

Step-By-Step Planting Guide

Cardinal Vaughan peonies have their own guide on how they should be planted, as most plants do. Below are instructions on how to plant Cardinal Vaughan peony roots and seeds.

Bare Root Cardinal Vaughan Peonies

  1. Dig a hole in the ground 10 inches deep and the same length across. Their roots require a lot of room to grow.
  2. Add in a fertilizer of your choice that contains phosphorus, because that’s what young plants need.
  3. Mound soil up in the center of the hole so that it’s only about 2 or 3 inches deep. Set the root clump on top so that the eyes face upward.
  4. Fill the rest of the hole and lightly pack down the soil. Water by sprinkling the area, careful not to flood.

Potted Cardinal Vaughan Peonies

  1. Prepare a large hole with a fertilizer of your choice with phosphorous.
  2. Remove the peony from the pot and slightly loosen the root ball. In the hole, set it at the same height it was in the pot.
  3. Fill the rest of the hole and lightly pack down the soil. Thoroughly water the planting site.

Cardinal Vaughan Peony Gallery

Perfectly Bloomed

These Cardinal Vaughan peonies are at the perfect stage in their life cycle when their blooms are healthy and full. They are open to receive the light and heat from the sun.

Small Peony

These two peonies look smaller than they should, and this can possibly be caused by not receiving enough sunlight to reach their full blooming potential.

Beginning of the End

These vibrant Cardinal Vaughan peonies are beginning to wither at the ends of their petals, a sign that their life cycle and blooming period is coming to an end.

Large Display

Peonies can get quite large, and make a stunning display of color. Just make sure they have plenty of room and sunlight in order to grow to their maximum size.

Busy Bee

This little busy bee is collecting pollen to feed the bee larva waiting back at the hive.

Different Shades

Cardinal Vaughan peonies can come in different colors, even this pinkish red one!

Initial Blossom

This Cardinal Vaughan peony is at the beginning of its bloom cycle, as it's petals are just beginning to open.

Buying Cardinal Vaughan Peonies

Kelways offers these in a bare root for you to add to your garden.

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