It’s a flower with exceptional beauty, a rich history, and multifaceted symbolism. With its lush, opulent petals and delightful fragrance, this bloom captivates the senses like few others, serving as a timeless marker of nature’s elegance and grace. Celebrated for centuries around the globe as a harbinger of prosperity, honor, and romance, it’s the perfect embodiment of the beauty and depth of the natural world.

For these reasons, and so many more, announces the peony as the 2024 Flower of the Year.

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A flower that stands above

Peonies truly are one of the great superstars of the floral world. Rare and fleeting, with their showy blooms lasting only a short time each spring, it’s hard not to love this dazzling flower.

The delicate, layered, bowl-like blossoms of the peony are a thing of wonder. Formed by an outer layer of “guard” petals, dozens and dozens of interior petals — more than 300 in some cases — and a lush center of pollen-bearing stamens, a peony bloom is a work of art that Mother Nature can boast about. Ranging in color from white to yellow, pink to red, purple, coral — and almost everything in between — peony plants create some of the most vibrant and breathtaking flowers around. And these blooms can be massive at times, sometimes reaching the size of a small dinner plate!

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peony foty peonies closeup

More than just a pretty “face,” peonies also smell as delightful as they look. The memorable fragrance of a peony is sweet, floral, and often described as having a subtle, rose-like aroma, with hints of citrus or spice. Its scent is, unquestionably, as captivating and alluring as that of any flower you’ll find.

A timeless symbol of affection

Roses may be known for the romance they bring. Last year’s flower of the year, the orchid, is renowned for its refined passion and sentiment. But with their enchanting blooms and ephemeral availability, the gift of peonies conveys true and lasting desire, and is also a beloved symbol of passion and affection.

“The peony is known for its beauty and elegance, and it’s one of the most popular floral varieties people can give,” says Alfred Palomares, vice president of merchandising at

[Peonies are] rare and can be really hard to get commercially — and that makes them even more meaningful.

Kevin Cochran

Vice president of procurement,

kevin cochran

“Due to the short period in which they bloom, peonies are considered a delicacy in the floral world that is highly sought after,” he adds. “They’re not always easy to acquire, and that limited availability adds to the charm and elegance of this esteemed flower.”

They’re also steeped in symbolism and cultural significance.

“Peonies are symbolic of love and romance, as well as good fortune and prosperity,” Palomares says. “Each individual flower is like a work of art. Their petals are layered and, when they blossom, form an exquisite bloom of ruffled petals, giving them a full-bodied shape that’s perfect for bouquets and arrangements for someone special in your life.”

The stuff of legend

With a storied history dating back centuries, peonies are believed to have originated in China, where they are highly regarded and often associated with wealth, honor, and beauty.

The flower also played a prominent role in early Greek and Roman culture. The peony is named after Paeon, who was a student of Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine and healing. As legend has it, Paeon once used a peony to treat one of Zeus’ wounds. When Asclepius became murderously jealous of his pupil, Zeus saved Paeon by turning him into a peony flower.

Read: November Birth Flowers: All About the Chrysanthemum and Peony

peony foty closeup

Bountiful delights

Scientifically speaking, there are 33 known species of peonies that fall into three distinct groups:

  1. Herbaceous peonies – Perennials that bloom in late spring and early summer
  2. Tree peonies – Shrubs that flower in late spring
  3. Intersectional peonies – A cross between herbaceous and tree peonies; die back each winter like herbaceous peonies and sprout large flowers like tree peonies.

Peonies can live for a century or more, often outliving the gardeners who planted them. They take about three years to develop, but, once established, the plants will deliver exceptional blooms for decades.

To grow your own peonies, place young plants in full sun, and with enough air and space around them to avoid fungus. For the best quality blooms, peony plants need lots of sun and deep, daily watering.

A cosmopolitan blossom

Like lavender, irises, and poppies, peonies in North America tend to bloom just as spring really gets underway, in late April and early May. But those flowers are short lived and last only one to two weeks, max. After that, the plant will carry on or can be cut back — but fear not, it will return again the following year.

“This incredibly short window of blooming can make getting and selling peonies a real challenge,” says Kevin Cochran, vice president of procurement at He should know: His team is responsible for buying and ensuring the quality of millions of flowers each year, managing a supply chain that begins with flower farms a continent away and ends with the delivery of a beautiful bouquet…and a smile.

According to Cochran, the peonies sold by come from all corners of the globe. In the fall, that can mean flowers that are flown in from New Zealand or Chile. In January and February, many peonies come from Israel and the surrounding region. After that, production turns domestic, with crops coming from North Carolina and parts of the Midwest up to Michigan, and eventually ending all the way north in Alaska. After that, it’s off to Europe, where peony blooms are sourced from Spain, France, and Holland.

“Peonies are truly unique because they’re coming from multiple areas all around the world,” Cochran says. “They’re rare and can be really hard to get commercially — and that makes them even more meaningful.”

peony foty care

Caring for peony blooms

Peonies are fragile and require proper care to ensure a maximum lifespan, Palomares says.

That starts with hydrating them as soon as they are delivered. Trim the stems and immediately put them in a vase filled with tepid water and flower food. Re-trim the stems and replace the flowers’ water every other day, adding additional flower food when you do.

Read: Caring for Fresh Cut Peonies

“Handle your peony blooms with care,” Palomares advises. “They should be positioned away from direct sunlight, cool or hot air vents, and any fresh fruit that is ripening.”

Most importantly: Appreciate and enjoy the beauty of the blooms for as long as they last. There really is nothing quite like a peony, so savor every moment you have with this amazing flower!

Memory lane

Take a look back at our previous “Flower of the Year” selections.

orchid facts hero




types of yellow flowers sunflower


2020Gerbera daisy

hot pink rose

2019Hot pink rose

purple roses

2018Purple rose


Brian Good is a writer, editor, and project manager with more than 20 years of experience in publishing. He's written for some of the country’s biggest magazine brands including Men’s Journal, Men’s Fitness, Shape, Men's Health, Muscle & Fitness, US Weekly, AARP: The Magazine, and websites including Mashed, Health Digest, DiversityInc, and others. Good specializes in topics including lifestyle, travel, pop culture, health, food and nutrition, spirits, products, politics, and activism.

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