2022 | How to Care for Itoh Peony

Peony is a flowering plant genus that includes more than 33 known and many unknown species, Itoh Peony is a sub-group of these trees, known for their beautiful flowers and their use as ornamental trees. Itoh Peonies were created in 1940 by a Japanese gardener and researcher, Mr. Toichi Itoh. He crossed tree peony with the herbaceous peonies and created a beautiful sub-group of flowering trees from this cross. Itoh Peonies are now found worldwide and used for ornamental purposes.

The Itoh Peonies are also called the Intersectional Hybrid Peonies as well. The Itoh Peonies have leaves like the tree peonies, they also have large-sized flowers but their size is small as compared to the tree peonies. During the cross, the Itoh Peonies retained the traits from both sides, like the tree-like leaves and flowers and small size like the herbaceous species.

After the death of Mr. Toichi Itoh, an American researcher bought a few Itoh Peonies varieties from the wife of Mr. Itoh and continued his research and created many new types of the cultivars of Itoh Peonies. In the early days, when Itoh Peonies were rare, people used to pay more than 1000$ just for a single tree, but nowadays due to large scale cultivation, they are available at a very affordable price. trees of each variety and cultivar of this group differ from each other in size, shape, leaves, flowers, and color of the foliage and flowers as well.


There are many varieties of the Itoh Peonies. Below are the details about the most famous varieties.

  1. Angel Cheeks: It is a herbaceous and small-sized cultivar of Itoh Peonies, world-famous for its beautiful texture and flowers. They have large flowers and tree-like leaves but only grow up to 20 inches. They are also among the rare varieties of the original Itoh Peonies. They bloom in the early summer, mostly in May and June. You can also keep them indoors if you want as they grow very well under the shade as well.
  2. Bartzella: It is also known as the yellow peony, or rosette peony due to its yellow rosette flowers. They can only grow a few inches (15 inches at max), but their flowers are very large as compared to their size, their leaves are also large. The color of their leaves is light yellow. Due to their small size, and easy to grow nature, you can keep them indoors and enjoy their beautiful bloom during the early summer.
  3. Cora Louise: Known for its pink and white flowers. This is also a variety of Itoh Peonies with small size and beautiful flowers. The texture and shape of its flowers are similar to the roses but the petals of their flowers are extremely thin. They like a slightly warm, partial to full sun environment to grow and thrive. They can also be grown indoors easily.
  4. First Arrival: Known for its early blooming habit and light pink flowers. These flowers give a white shade as well. They are small and can only grow 2 feet high in favorable conditions. They need partial shade to full sun environment to grow. You can also grow them indoors in the planters.
  5. Garden Treasure: This is a very beautiful Itoh Peony cultivar, known as the Garden Treasure, because of its beautiful foliage, and attractive flowers. They grow a thick layer of branches and foliage around the stem. This variety is also an early bloomer and blooms in the early spring, the flowers of this variety are yellow as well. They are similar in shape to the roses, but the petals are very thin. You can also grow them indoors in pots and planters.
  6. Yankee Doodle Dandy: Flowers of this variety are pink, while the foliage is pale green, they are mostly used in the indoor decorations and outdoor landscapes and gardens. Their flowers have a beautiful rose-like texture. The size of this variety is also very small and they only grow 18 inches tall in favorable conditions. Due to their small size, they are a perfect choice for indoor pots and planters.
  7. Apart from these, there are many other varieties available as well, all these varieties are hybrids and have a small size, attractive foliage, and beautiful flowers.

Growing Conditions and Requirements

The Itoh Peonies are very easy to plant and take care of, all you need to do is to plant them in well-draining soil and provide them water regularly. You can also grow them indoors as they like to be grown in partial shade to full sun environment. Place them somewhere bright, where they can receive plenty of light.

Provide them fertilizers regularly to maintain their growth, prune them, and repot them if they are getting bigger than the pot, they are in. yearly repotting is better for them as they grow fast and spread all around if the pot is small.

Water Requirements

The Itoh Peony trees like the soil to remain moist most of the time. Small Itoh Peony trees need less amount of water as compared to a mature Itoh Peony, but small Itoh Peonies need more frequent watering than the matured Itoh Peonies. Their watering depends upon the area, size, height, age, climate, and season. You need to be careful while watering them as they do not like to be overwatered. 

Here is how to water the Itoh Peonies of different ages, sizes, and in different seasons and climates.

●     When you plant the Itoh Peonies, watering starts as soon as you plant them in the planter, pot, or garden soil. Provide water to newly planted Itoh Peonies after planting them, or sowing their seeds.

●     After that, keep watering your Itoh Peony once every day, but make sure that you only pour a small quantity of water in the soil around the plant. This frequent watering helps the Itoh Peony trees establish their roots in the soil and start taking water from the deep soil. Keep following this pattern for almost 3 to 4 months.

●     After the plant has reached a few inches in height in 3 to 4 months, you can slightly increase the amount of water for each time, and decrease the frequency of watering from once a day to once every second day. Little shortage of water that this less often watering will create, will initiate the growth of the roots in the Itoh Peonies, and the roots will spread further deep in the soil and extract water. Keep following this pattern of watering for almost 5 months.

●     Once the plant is 11, 12 months old, its roots are big enough to absorb water from the bottom of the pot, now you can further decrease the watering frequency and increase the amount of water gradually. Provide them water once every third day.

●     In winter and the cold regions, the Itoh Peonies do not need that much water, but in hot areas, and summer, they need more frequent watering. As in the summer, the soil becomes dry very quickly and the plant needs water to maintain a moist environment in the soil.

Lighting Requirements

The Itoh Peony trees like to be grown in a bright environment. They must be kept under direct or indirect sunlight for almost 5 to 6 hours every day. They are mostly grown in the gardens and landscapes, where they receive plenty of sunlight. But some of these are also grown indoors, as they like the partial sun to partial shade environment.

If you are looking forward to growing them indoors you must place them somewhere bright. In damp and dark places, where they do not receive a sufficient amount of light, they can develop diseases. Most of the pests and pathogens attack the Itoh Peonies grown in the dark. You must keep them in a place where they receive a balanced amount of sunlight.

Temperature Requirements

The Itoh Peony trees like a moderate environment to grow and thrive. They do not like extremely cold conditions or frost and they also do not like the extremely hot conditions as well. Grow them in a place where the temperature is moderate and they will thrive. They are hardy in 4 to 9 USDA zones while they can survive the hotness in 1 to 8 heat zones. They thrive when the temperatures are between 5 C to 15 C. Some varieties of the Itoh Peonies can also grow in much colder zones as well.

The Itoh Peony trees are not cold hardy and cannot survive the frost for the long term. If you are looking forward to growing them in the colder regions, you must keep them indoors to protect them from the frost. You can also protect them from the hotness in the hot zones by keeping them indoors to protect them from the extremely hot sun.

Soil Requirements

The Itoh Peonies like a well-draining and nutrient-rich soil. They can be grown in clay, sandy, and loamy soils, but they thrive when the soil is sandy and porous. The porous soil allows the excess water to move away from the roots of the plant very quickly and in this way, it protects the roots from the impact of overwatering.

Itoh Peonies need the soil to be rich in all the nutrients that they need to properly grow and thrive and if the soil has any deficiency, you can overcome this by applying an appropriate fertilizer. You can also add organic matter, compost, mulch in the soil to create a balanced mixture.

Fertilizer Requirements

Fertilizers are important as they help the Itoh Peonies grow properly and thrive even if the soil lacks the required nutrients. The Itoh Peonies need a lot of nutrients during their life, these nutrients are the source and raw material for their food. The Itoh Peonies extracts these nutrients from the soil.

But when the amount of nutrients in the soil depletes, you need to add the fertilizers to make sure that the Itoh Peonies do not suffer any shortage of nutrients. Before applying any type of fertilizer, you should know which types of nutrients your soil contains, and which of the required nutrients your soil lacks.

You can do this by testing the soil, the soil test helps you get an overview of the chemical composition of your soil and with the help of the results from the soil test, you can choose the right fertilizer in the right amount and apply it on your Itoh Peonies. This will help you get better results with the use of fertilizer and will improve the efficiency of the fertilizer as well.

How to use the fertilizers?

There are three basic methods of applying fertilizers that are also recommended by experts. Below are the details about each of these methods.

  1. This is a very basic method and a very common method as well; it involves taking a required amount of fertilizer and mixing it with the potting soil or garden soil. This is done before planting the Itoh Peonies in that soil or pot. This helps the plant quickly grow in the early days of its life by providing it all the nutrients it needs to grow. This method is also used when you are repotting the Itoh Peonies, you can add the fertilizers in the soil before repotting them.
  2. This is the second method, very common for the trees, and plants with a stem. This method involves, taking a sufficient amount of the required fertilizer and spreading it in the soil all around the plant. This is mostly done for the trees in the gardens but you can also use this for the trees in the pots and planters. After spreading the fertilizer, you can provide water to your Itoh Peony trees. This water will help the fertilizer dissolve and become available to the plant quickly.
  3. The third method is used for liquid fertilizers. You can create a mixture of fertilizer with the recommended amount of water. After creating this mixture, you can directly feed this to your Itoh Peony trees, (like watering them). This method is very efficient and helps the plants quickly get the nutrients they need.

Be careful when you are applying the fertilizers as overfertilization can kill the Itoh Peonies. Follow all the recommendations and guidelines that are provided with the fertilizer for better results.

Pruning Requirements

Itoh Peony trees grow a very thick layer of branches, sub-branches, and leaves that cover the whole stem. Pruning them helps you get rid of the extra parts, irregular parts, and dead branches. It also helps in the growth of the plant and encourages the growth of more leaves, flowers, and new branches.

Pruning once every year is enough for the Itoh Peonies. The best time to prune them before the start of the spring, as during the spring they will grow new leaves, branches, and more flowers. You can start pruning them by identifying the parts to be pruned and then removing them one by one.

Pests and Problems

Below are the common pests and problems of the Itoh Peonies:

Ants: Technically ants are not the pests and they do not threaten the Itoh Peonies as well, but their swarms cover the whole plant. They damage the leaves and petals of the flowers as well. You can use the insecticides to control the ant’s population on your Itoh Peonies.

Honey Fungus: Armillaria is also known as the honey fungus, this attacks the small Itoh Peonies and causes harm to the plant’s foliage, flowers, sap, and branches. There are more than 10 different species of this fungus group that attacks almost all of the varieties of Itoh Peonies. You can protect your Itoh Peonies from the fungus by keeping the plant clean, warm, and dry as these fungi only attack the plants in damp, and wet conditions. You can also use the fungicide sprays.

Peony Wilt: This is a common fungal infection of the peonies. It attacks the leaves, branches, and stem of the plant and causes the flowers and leaves to wilt even before properly blooming. This condition leads to the severe loss of flowers if not properly dealt with. The Peony Wilt attacks the Itoh Peonies in the wet and damp conditions, you can protect your plants by keeping them in bright light and dry conditions. Also, use chemical sprays to kill the fungus.


The Itoh Peonies are fast-growing trees and they can quickly outgrow the pot they are planted in. Mostly they require repotting once every year. Repot the Itoh Peonies before the spring. Use a bigger pot to repot them. Prepare a bigger pot by using the recommended soil, fertilizer, and then uproot and transfer the plant to the new pot.

Be careful while uprooting and transferring and make sure that you do not cause any damage to the roots of the Itoh Peonies. After repotting them, providing them some water, this water will help the roots of the Itoh peonies to adjust to the new soil.

How to Propagate?

Itoh Peonies are propagated with the help of cuttings and division. You need to dig up and uproot the plant, after that divide the root ball into two or three different parts and then plant each part in a different pot.

If you are looking forward to growing them with the help of cuttings, you must take cuttings from the matured plant, keep them in a rooting hormone and allow the roots to grow. After that plant these cuttings into different pots and planters.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Question: What is an Itoh Peony?

Answer: Itoh Peonies are hybrid trees that were created by Mr. Toichi Itoh, a Japanese gardener, and researcher. He crossed the tree peonies with the herbaceous peonies, and this resulted in the creation of a new sub-group of small-sized, Itoh Peonies. The plants of this group have many similarities to both tree peonies and herbaceous peonies.

Question: How do you care for Itoh Peonies?

Answer: Itoh Peonies need a moderate temperature, so grow them in an area where temperatures are moderate, they need watering twice every week. Provide them fertilizers regularly to see better growth and more flowers. Plant them in a well-draining and nutrients rich soil. Protect them from the ants, pests, and fungus. Properly prune them and repot them from time to time, this is how you take care of an Itoh Peony tree.

Question: How fast do Itoh Peonies grow?

Answer: Itoh Peony trees that are planted with the help of cuttings or division reach their mature height in just two to three years. They grow very fast and that is why they require a yearly repotting. While the Itoh Peony trees that are grown with the help of the rooting hormone might take more than three years to reach the blossom age and flower late.

Question: How do you plant Itoh Peonies?

Answer: Itoh Peonies are planted, propagated with the help of two methods, stem cuttings, and division. The stem cuttings are kept in the rooting hormone, and once the roots appear, they are transferred to the pots, while the divided Itoh Peonies root balls are directly planted into the different pots.