The petals of 'Command Performance' peony start out vibrant magenta and gradually transform to a lighter pink.

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'dinner plate' peony
Credit: Courtesy of White Flower Farm

Peonies always look stunning in a floral arrangement and in your garden. These sweet-smelling flowers come in various vibrant colors, including pink, red, orange, yellow, and white, and there's even a variety that changes colors as it blooms. It's called the 'Command Performance' peony, and each bloom is packed with petals that are hot pink at first, but as time goes on, they turn into a light pink. Plus, this variety produces some of the largest blossoms among peonies, reaching nearly eight inches across. Whether you want to purchase fresh-cut stems for a bouquet or grow the plants in your garden, this variety is worth seeking out.

command perfomance peonies
Credit: Courtesy of The Fresh Market

You can shop this gorgeous peony variety at a handful of retailers. Fresh Market has a limited offering of three-stem bunches of 'Command Performance' peonies, beginning May 19 and running for as long as supplies last. If you'd like to grow the peonies in your garden, there are even more options. You can buy the Red Peonies Command Performance Root ($34, The Home Depot); the Van Zyverden Peonies Command Performance Set of 1 Root ($34, Walmart), the Command Performance Peony ($10, Breck's), or the Peony 'Command Performance' 3/5 Eyes ($28, Etsy).

The perennial is hardy in USDA Zones 3-8, which includes the majority of the country. You'll want to plant your 'Command Performance' peonies before the heat of summer sets in (spring and fall are the best times for planting). Space each peony around 3-4 feet apart and no more than 2 inches below the soil level. Your peonies will do best in full sun (a spot that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight every day) in well-drained soil.

When it comes to watering your peonies, it's best to water once a week, especially during dry spells. Add enough moisture to soak the top 5 inches of soil. For feeding, you can use compost, bonemeal ($8, The Home Depot), well-rotted manure, or fertilizer with high levels of phosphorus (P) and potassium (K).

Your peonies will bloom in the springtime, and after they show off their colorful petals, you'll want to do some deadheading to prepare them for the next year. Removing the faded blooms prevents the plant from putting energy into seed production, and instead, it will focus on root and leaf growth. 'Command Performance' peonies will die back to the ground once an autumn frost kills the plant's foliage. At that point, you can cut away the dead leaves. Don't worry; new growth will appear in the spring and you'll have another beautiful display in your landscape.


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