Chinese Tree Peony vs Japanese Tree Peony

A tree peony is a flower that grows on a shrub type bush. The Japanese tree peonies were brought to Japan in the early sixteen hundreds. Japan renamed a lot of these trees and also changed the way that some of them grow including but not limited to a different aesthetic design and fragrance differences. The trees have a few differences and many similarities due to their close relation. Some Japanese Peonies actually are exactly the same as Chinese peonies but with Japanese names.

Chinese Tree Peony

This flower was originally grown only for the emperor. There are about forty varieties of Chinese tree peonies available for purchase in the United States. These plants are traditionally thought of as an exotic plant and now are readily available for any garden with the right climate. They have flowers that grow with stem counts of three to four. They are fragrant and have multiple colors available.

Japanese Tree Peony

This peony was brought to Japan from China in the early sixteen hundreds. The Japanese in an aesthetic decision decided to grow the flowers in stem counts of one or two. The plant was also altered to create little or no scent from the blooms. There are only about six varieties available and only three shades of blooms. This is a far cry from the Chinese variety that boasts almost 40 different varieties and colors.


The Chinese Tree Peony and the Japanese Tree Peony are still more far alike than different. They like to be planted in full sun to partial shade and grow to a maximum of 48 inches high.

It is recommended that you do not over water the plants and they like a good helping of fertilizer to help them bloom. It can take a few years to get the blooms you want on a peony tree. Sometimes you will only see one or two the first year with progressive amounts each year after that. Both plants do not like to be transplanted and will not bloom for a couple years after one. Plant these plants at least 36 inches from each other in order to prevent overcrowding and subsequent non flowering. It is not recommended that you mulch these plants in warmer growing zones, if they do not get enough cold they will not bloom that year.

Peonies are a plant that once considered exotic has made itself known on many continents. The Chinese Tree Peony was transplanted to Japan where changes were made to it for aesthetic purposes. The main differences being the loss of fragrance and that the tree blooms with one or two flower stems instead of three or four. No matter where they are located peonies tend to be a picky plant that likes full sun, the right fertilizer and no transplanting. If you waver from this the tree will not produce blooms for you the following season. So Japanese Tree Peonies versus Chinese Tree Peonies, the only thing that separates them is a few scientific changes.