Growing the Fern Peony
Paeonia tenuifolia 'Rubra Plena'

The fern peony or double fern leaf peony, Paeonia tenuifolia 'Rubra Plena', is a perennial Japanese peony with thin, bright green foliage and lipstick red spring blooms.

Fern peony in full bloom.

Click to See All the Available Peonies at Nature Hills

Paeonia tenuifolia 'Rubra Plena' is the most widely grown of the true fern leaf peonies. This may just be because it is one of the easiest to grow.

It will grow and multiply quickly under the following conditions:

  • Plant it in full sun and give it good soil. Dig in some organic compost.

  • Keep it constantly moist its first summer in the ground but do not drown it. Make sure the soil you plant your fern leaf peony on is fast draining. Keep the plant nearly dry during cold weather.
  • *If you are planting more than 1, space them 18 inches apart.

    Get $25 off any Peony Order of $50 at Brecks



    Propagating Paeonia tenuifolia

    If you follow the growing instructions above, it won't belong before you are looking to increase your Japanese fern peony collection.

    Fern peonies are propagated by division in the fall after they go into dormancy which they will likely do in late summer.

    This peony plant may go dormant in mid summer during its first growing season. Do not divide it during this year. Wait until the plant is at least 2 years old.

    Prepare the planting holes for the divisions before you dig up the established plant. Once you have dug it up and divided it (cut it into large chunks with a sharp spade or dedicated knife), get it back into the soil as soon as possible.

    Help! My Fern Leaf Peony is Turning Brown.

    Close Up of a Peony Flower
    Buy This at Allposters.com

    If you have followed the instructions above, do not panic. There is probably nothing wrong.

    This peony variety is funny like this. It can just up and go dormant any time after it blooms (early spring). It will look like it is dying.

    It isn't.

    If the peony has been planted out for less than a full year, keep the soil barely moist. If it has been in the ground longer than a full year, pay it no attention at all.

    It will come back, better than ever, next spring.

    Fern Peony Growing Tip:

    Mark the spot where the peony is planted in some permanent way. Place a decorative rock near it or plant some bulbs whose foliage will last until winter around it.

    This will help you avoid digging it up by accident.

    Mature Size: 24 inches tall and wide
    Hardiness: USDA zones 3a-8b
    Toxicity: All parts of Paeonia tenuifolia are poisonous if ingested.
    Special Features: Deer resistant plant and flower.

    Peony Tree, Kamata Nishiki

    Peony Tree, Kamata Nishiki

    These woody bushes produce up to 200 huge, double, wisteria blue, fragrant flowers per plant.

    Order now! We have a very limited supply!




    Return to Deer Resistant Plants and Flowers

    How to Grow Asparagus Ferns

    Staghorn Fern, an Epiphyte from the Forests of Africa

    Go from Fern Peony to Botanical Journeys Plant Guides Home