Peonies are among the most prized perennials, their lush, dramatic blooms popular in bouquets and gardens around the world. Originally native to China, peonies have been cultivated and beloved for more than 4,000 years. They first appeared in Europe and the rest of the world in the 1800s, and were rapidly established as stars in the garden and in bouquets. They’re known as much for their beauty and fragrance as for their longevity and low maintenance.
A peony plant can live more than 100 years, needing very little care or attention. Traditionally given to express warm wishes, celebration, and goodwill, peony symbolism is rich and versatile enough for most special occasions. What do peonies symbolize? In general peonies represent happiness, shyness, romance, good fortune, honor, and bravery. Peony meaning is further determined by the flower’s color, making peony flower symbolism diverse and layered.
Peonies date back 4,000 years, and much of peony symbolism is woven through history and mythology. Peonies get both their name and their association with beauty and shyness from Greek myth. Paeonia was a beautiful nymph who attracted the attention and affection of the god Apollo. While the goddess Aphrodite grew jealous and angry, Peaonia became bashful because of his attention and blushed, turning red from her shyness. This only angered Aphrodite more, and she turned Paeonia into a red peony.
The themes of innocent beauty and bashfulness in peony flower symbolism arose from this lore and will always be connected to the flower’s name. Combined with the individual meanings associated with different colors of peony, this can represent youthful shyness, romantic bashfulness or even coyness, or modesty and humility.
A popular choice for celebrations like weddings and other joyous occasions, peonies radiate happiness. They are sent to bring cheer, to congratulate, to express big feelings. In the garden, a peony plant in full bloom is believed to portend good luck.
Peony blooms are dramatic and eye-catching. They elevate the decor on cheerful occasions, and peony symbolism is versatile depending on the flower’s color. They can symbolize the happiness of friendship, romance, accomplishment, or good fortune.
Peonies are among the most popular flowers for romantic occasions like weddings, Valentine’s Day, and anniversaries. Their fragrant blooms with densely layered petals make them a frequent alternative to roses in bridal bouquets and centerpieces. Depending on the color, peonies can symbolize first love or passionate romance.
The interior design discipline feng shui uses peonies to attract love and romance. Peony’s symbolism extends to enduring romance as well. In the garden, a peony can live and flourish for as long as 100 years, a symbol of longevity. The peony is the official 12th wedding anniversary flower.
Honor and Prosperity
Peonies are native to China, and much of peony’s flower meaning comes from Chinese and Japanese culture and history. For a long time, only Chinese emperors had peonies, so they became associated with wealth. Also called “the king of flowers”, peonies are used in important celebrations like Chinese New Year. In Japan, peonies represent honor, good fortune, and courage.
Give peonies to signify esteem, or to wish good fortune and success in a new job or business. A peony in the garden symbolizes good luck and good health in China and Japan, where its medicinal properties have historically been celebrated.
Greek mythology gives us two possible origins for peony flower symbolism, and for its name. The more prominent of the two centers on Paeon, the physician of the Greek gods and student of Aesculapius, the Greek god of medicine. Paeon healed the god Pluto using the milk of the peony’s root. Again, envy plays a role, this time with Aesculpius becoming jealous and trying to kill Paeon. Pluto prevented the killing by turning Paeon into a flower, the peony.
The use of peonies for healing dates to the flower’s beginnings in China. Peonies were originally cultivated for their medicinal value, and reserved for royalty. The root of the peony is believed to have medicinal qualities, and is still used in some areas of Chinese medicine for pain and poor circulation.
Peony Meaning By Color
Peony flower symbolism covers a lot of territory, from shyness to romance to wealth and pride. Peonies bloom in a wide range of colors, and each color has its own meaning. These meanings intertwine with the general peony meanings for layered significance.
White Peony Symbolism
White flowers generally mean purity and innocence. White peonies embody the peony’s connection with shyness. This can symbolize the bashful naivete of youthful love, and white peonies are popular in wedding bouquets. A bouquet of white peonies is a lovely way to send congratulations and best wishes for a new birth.
White peonies also can mean shame or apology. In floriography terms, a bouquet with white peonies can send the message that you have regrets or want to make amends.
Pale Pink Peony Symbolism
Pale pink is one of the most popular peony colors. Blush hues are associated with romance and good fortune, and though they are often seen in wedding bouquets, they are entirely appropriate for Mother’s Day. A bouquet of pink peonies is an ethereal symbol of young love, or a first romance.
Light pink peonies add a subtle pop of color to white bouquets and arrangements, and soft contrast to reds and bolder pinks. Add pale pink peonies for a flutter of romance and prosperity.
Hot Pink Peony Symbolism
Expect to see a lot of hot pink this season. Hot pink peonies bring the passion, symbolizing allure, attraction and deep desire, but they can also convey radiance and youthful joy. Pink is always on trend, so mix up pale and hot pink hues to evoke the exhilarating feel of “romance in the air”!
This vibrant hued peony is a perfect choice for weddings, and for youthful celebrations like sweet sixteen and graduation. Hot pink peonies are an excellent alternative to roses, for something unique and a little dramatic flair.
Red Peony Symbolism
For the most intensely romantic bouquet, go with red, the color of passion, desire, and drama. The dense, intricate bloom of the red peony is a stunning alternative to roses for romantic Valentine or anniversary bouquets, and makes a bold, passionate statement in wedding arrangements.
Red peonies have significance other than romance, though. They also symbolize honor, wealth, and respect. This symbolism is especially significant in Chinese culture, where peony symbolism is highly associated with royalty.
And don’t forget our Greek friend, Paeonia, turned to a red peony for her beauty and bashfulness. Red peonies retain their association with that romantic image.
Purple Peony Symbolism
Purple peonies also signify royalty, dignity, and nobility. Include them in a bouquet if you want to convey respect and admiration. Regal purple peonies often mean power and luxury. They symbolize elegance and opulence, and are right for when you want to emphasize your esteem and admiration for someone.
Event decor featuring purple peonies signal opulence and success. Give a bouquet of purple peonies to make someone feel like a queen or king, or to indicate that you see great things in their future.
Yellow Peony Symbolism
Vibrant yellow peonies symbolize new beginnings, in an impressive range of uplifting hues. Give sunny yellow peonies to wish someone good luck, celebrate a new job, or warm up a new home. Vibrant lemon yellow can say congratulations or get well soon.
Soft yellow peonies bring beauty and good beginnings to a wedding celebration, and send new graduates off with a flourish of optimism. Yellow peony symbolism speaks to almost any occasion. In addition to these optimistic meanings, yellow flowers generally mean sorrow or condolence, and so yellow peonies can be appropriate for acknowledging both death and birth.
Coral Peony Symbolism
These peonies are special, in that they change color during the bloom cycle, beginning their life as vibrant coral, then turning rosy pink before mellowing to ivory or creamy blush. Coral peonies symbolize strong relationships, happiness, and wealth, and are a perfect choice for an anniversary bouquet. They represent elegance and success as well.
Coral peonies are a bold statement for wedding flowers, an unusual color in a flower connected with powerful symbolism. They would be just as striking and appropriate for a new business open house, or to celebrate a business partnership.
More about Peonies and Other Statement Flowers
Peonies have the distinction of being both stunning to look at and rich and versatile in symbolism. A bouquet of peonies can be customized to celebrate or recognize most any occasion. In addition to the choices available to order peonies online, there are other flowers worth thinking about, for their symbolism and their eye-catching flair. You may want to consider a gift of orchids, or check out a variety of lilies.
At The Bouqs, we’re committed to bringing you the best quality plants and flowers with a firm commitment to sustainability. Our selection offers versatility to customize your bouquet any way that works for you. Giving birth month flowers and zodiac flowers is trending, and we have the latest looks. We design stunning bouquets for every special occasion in your life, made with the freshest, longest-lasting flowers, straight from the farm to your door.Shop All