How to Grow and Care for 'Lemon Chiffon' Peony

It's a practically perfect flower.

There's a peony that's been charming our gardens, and in the summer months, it has lush double yellow blooms on beautiful deep green leaves. It's Paeonia 'Lemon Chiffon,' a.k.a. 'Lemon Chiffon' peony. Now an all-time favorite perennial for the cutting garden, it's distinctive thanks to its pale yellow flowers, sweet perfume, and attractive foliage. This combination is the reason gardeners have, for years, counted on 'Lemon Chiffon' peonies to add a dose of cheer to their gardens. (While peonies have a lovely scent, they are toxic to pets and can cause gastrointestinal distress.)

'Lemon Chiffon' was named the American Peony Society's Best in Show and took home the Grand Champion prize in 2000. It was hybridized years earlier by D.L. Reath and first entered the garden scene in 1981. 'Lemon Chiffon' was the result of Reath crossing 'Salmon Dream' and Reath No. F-3, which crossed 'Cream Delight' and 'Moonrise.' 'Lemon Chiffon' blooms as a semi-double flower with large yellow blooms as sweet as a lemon pie. It is a long-lived planting, and mature plants have also been known to produce double flower forms.

'Lemon Chiffon' Peony
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Plant Attributes

  • Common Name: 'Lemon Chiffon' peony
  • Botanical Name: Paeonia lactiflora 'Lemon Chiffon'
  • Family: Paeoniaceae
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Mature Size: 2.5 to 3 feet tall and wide
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun; appreciates afternoon shade in hot climates
  • Soil Type: Fertile, well-drained
  • Soil pH: Neutral
  • Bloom Time: Late spring
  • Flower Color: Pale yellow
  • Hardiness Zones: 3-8 (USDA)
  • Native Area: Asia

'Lemon Chiffon' Care

This peony has become a favorite not only because of its blooms, but also because of how hardy and weather-resistant it is in the garden. A relatively low-maintenance plant, 'Lemon Chiffon' peony thrives in full sun or partial shade. This herbaceous peony is a mid-season bloomer that flowers in late spring and early summer, usually around June. It grows to 32 inches in height and 24 to 36 inches in width. As with many peonies, Lemon Chiffon requires a deep plot of well-drained soil. It's also resistant to deer, so if you have garden visitors that tend to browse your blooms, this is a good flower to plant.

Light

Plant 'Lemon Chiffon' peony in full sun to part shade. More sun can mean more blooms, but it's best to give this plant some afternoon shade in hot climates.

Soil

Plant in well-drained, deep, fertile soil, allowing plenty of room for its tuberous roots to grow. Add compost before planting. But do not plant your peony too deeply if you want it to bloom—the eyes (buds emerging from the rootstock) should only be planted an inch below the surface in the South.

Water

Peonies prefer medium moisture and should be watered when dry. Water from below to avoid loading down the heavy flowers, which can collapse to the ground.

Temperature and Humidity

Herbaceous peonies need a period of cold dormancy and don't always perform as well for gardeners in Zone 8. Planting the tubers just a half inch to an inch below the soil surface will help. Choose a cooler spot in the garden and water regularly through early fall.

Fertilizer

Fertilize peonies in the spring after several new inches of growth have emerged. Sprinkle a half cup of all-purpose granular fertilizer around each plant.

'Lemon Chiffon' Peony in Bloom
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Pruning

Peonies do not require pruning for the most part. Remove spent blooms. Cut yellow or brown foliage back to an inch or two above the ground in the fall.

Propagating 'Lemon Chiffon'

You can propagate your 'Lemon Chiffon' peony by dividing. It's best to do this in the fall or early spring while the plant is mostly dormant. You can use a spade to cut a section of root away from the mother plant, preserving the root ball as much as possible, and then plant it immediately. If you want to move the entire clump, dig up the plant and place it on a tarp, cut it into sections with a sharp knife, and then replant immediately, watering well. A few seasons may pass before your new clumps begin to flower.

Potting and Repotting 'Lemon Chiffon'

You can successfully grow 'Lemon Chiffon' in a container, but make sure you choose a slightly wider and deeper pot with space for its fleshy roots to grow. Make certain there are drainage holes, as peonies don't appreciate overly soggy soil. Use fertile, well-draining potting soil, and plant the peony so that the root crown is about an inch below the soil line. Check the container regularly and water when dry.

You will need to repot your peony every few years, as these vigorous plants will outgrow the container. Again, choose a pot that is slightly wider and deeper than your existing container. Use fertile, well-drained soil, planting at the same depth.

Overwintering

Peonies don't need much protection in Southern climates. You can apply a light layer of mulch over your plant, but pull away any excess mulch in the spring.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases

Peonies are fairly trouble-free and usually not bothered by deer, though you may see ants infesting the flowers. The ants are after their sugary nectar and do not cause any harm to the plant.

In warm, wet weather, peonies can be infected by a fungus called botrytis that causes dark spots on leaves and stems and shrivels up buds. Losing the flowers is disappointing, but the plant typically turns out fine. Remove infected leaves and buds and avoid overhead watering and overcrowding plants.

How to Get 'Lemon Chiffon' to Bloom

A peony may not bloom in its first growing season after planting. But if your plant is well-established and still isn't blooming, the plant could need more sunlight or could be planted too deeply. If your peony is in a mostly shady spot, replant it in the fall, making certain it gets at least four hours or more of direct sunlight, especially in the morning. If you suspect your peony is planted too deep, wait until fall and replant the crown no more than an inch deep.

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