Fading Peony Color

Fading Peony Color

Very little can match the natural beauty of peonies and one of our favorite things about them is watching the blooming process, from bud to huge bloom, and seeing the petals change color.  For some varieties the fading of the flower’s color is much more pronounced than others. If you’ve thrown away your peonies when they start to fade, you’re missing out!  The color transformation is one of the most amazing things to see when it comes to peonies!  You may have wondered what is it that causes this to happen?

Fading peonies in the field

I asked FJ, our flower expert, for a layman’s explanation of this beautiful phenomenon.  He explained, as a peony starts to open, it is at a stage where the pigment (color) is most intense.  It’s the flower’s way of attracting pollinators (like bees).  As the flower ages, the cut bloom no longer has the energy to spend on producing pigment which means the color will start to fade.  The same thing would occur if the flower had been left on the plant. The peony plant focuses on other new blooms and foliage, so older blooms on the plant also begin to fade. Adding to this is the sun whose rays can have a bleaching effect that can contribute to fading peony color.

We show you some of our favorite images that capture this process.  I love how a bouquet can slowly change over time with each stem fading at a different rate.  It’s a marvel of nature that I will never get tired of watching! The varieties that tend to fade more include Coral Charm, Pink Hawaiian Coral, Lovely Rose and other vibrant single bloom varieties (petals on singles are more translucent so fading is more pronounced). When I have these in the house, it’s fun to see every morning what has changed.  The peony season is not long, so I try to maximize every moment of enjoyment that I can get from them.  Only when the petals start falling off do I reluctantly put them in our compost pile!

Vibrant Coral Charm

Fading Coral Charm

 Vibrant Pink Hawaiian Coral

Faded Pink Hawaiian Coral Peony

Pink Hawaiian Coral - fading peony color

If you have cool pictures of your fading peonies, share them with us (on Facebook, Instagram or any other social site).  We would love to see them!

And don’t forget to pick up some peonies while they are still in season!




Add yours
  1. 1
    Robin Clark

    I am so glad to read this article! I recently found peonies at a local florist shop. They looked, after blooming, much like the Hawaiian Coral pictured here. When returned from a long weekend vacation, the same flowers in the same vase were white! I was astounded! Other sites denied that peonies can change colors–but I experienced it happening and took pictures to prove it. Thanks for the explanation!

    • 2
      Ellie H.

      Hi Robin! So glad that we could help! Not sure why other sites would deny that they fade color, but clearly they do as you’ve seen!

  2. 3

    Thanks for the validation! I bought six Hawaiian Coral, without knowing what they were except peopies, and took a picture every day of the luscious colors fading to pure white, then dropping. I was so pleased, I submitted them into our “ageless art” show for folks above 70. I am 81, and found them to be a metaphor of the beauty in each stage of life and aging.

    • 4
      Ellie H.

      Hi Betsy! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your story! Hawaiian Coral are beautiful peonies and how wonderful to hear you were able to capture their magic and share at an art show! Beauty is beauty…no matter the age!

  3. 5
    S. W.

    I left pink dark peonies in the morning and returned to yellow ones late afternoon. It was awesome. Thanks for the explanation! Can’t get the pictures to post here though.

    • 6
      Ellie H.

      Sounds like it was a pretty dramatic transformation! Usually it’s not that quick, but it can really vary depending on the peony variety. Thanks for sharing! Our comments section doesn’t allow for photo posts, but we’ll have to look into adding that feature! Thanks for stopping by.

  4. 9
    Pam Dexter

    It seems as though each year my once were deep rose peonies get paler and paler. They are still lovely but I’m wondering whether I’m doing something wrong. I have given them a light application of fertilizer in spring. but they seem to be color deficient. They are tall and healthy and covered in buds. Any thoughts?

    • 10
      Ellie H.

      Hi Pam! Thanks for stopping by. Sounds like you have a great garden! Our specialty is care of cut peonies that have been commercially grown, so I would try asking a gardening forum or blog as they could give much better advice on what might be causing the color change.

+ Leave a Comment