Monrovia’s Newest Itoh Peonies: New Japanese Names Pay Homage to Toichi Itoh

Apr 15, 2011

 AZUSA, Calif. – (April 15, 2010) — In 1948, Toichi Itoh was the first to successfully cross a tree Peony (P. lemoinei) with an herbaceous or garden Peony (P. lactiflora.) The result? A hybrid that features the colorful and exotic flowers of tree Peonies, with the perennial growing cycle of herbaceous Peonies.

Monrovia has partnered with Don Smith, a leading Itoh Peony breeder, to bring some outstanding varieties to market. Two varieties, Keiko (adored) and Yumi (beauty), were introduced last year; and two more, Takara (treasure) and Misaka (beautiful blossom), will arrive in independent garden centers in time for Mother's Day.

“We wanted names that reflect the country of origin and the stunning beauty of these Peonies,” explained Nicholas Staddon, director of new plants. “These easy to grow Peonies will amaze and delight gardeners.”

Also known as intersectional hybrids, Itoh Peonies tend to resemble tree varieties, with a domed, vigorous growth habit and large double flowers with disease-resistant lacy, dark green foliage. Once established, Itoh Peonies have an extended blooming period, with as many as 50 blooms in a single season due to their ability to produce primary and secondary buds. They offer an increased color range, greater vigor and excellent resistance to Peony blight (botrytis paeoniae).

New for 2011

Takara™ (Treasure) Itoh Peony
Paeonia (Intersectional hybrid) x 'Smith Opus 2' PPAF

Zone: 3 – 8

This variety has large flowers, up to six inches across, in an exquisite, ever-changing blend of colors. When opening, blooms appear mostly pink, but are actually light yellow heavily flushed with deep lavender pink. As flowers mature, the pink and yellow fades to pale white with faintly tinged with pink, with a large dark burgundy flare in the center. Blooms appear early May through end of June. Finely cut dark green foliage and a rounded form to three feet tall and wide, make this an excellent landscape plant. Prefers full sun.

New for 2011

Misaka™ (Beautiful Blossom) Itoh Peony
Paeonia (Intersectional hybrid) x 'Smith Opus 1' PPAF

Zone: 3 – 8

This herbaceous perennial features large flowers that appear orange when first opening — rare among intersectional hybrids – fading to a beautiful, peachy-yellow in full sun. Large contrasting dark-red central flares are extremely prominent. Its heavy flowering is due to its higher than average number of secondary buds. This new cultivar has a vigorous growth habit with narrow finely cut foliage that is disease resistant. Prefers full sun.

2010 Introduction – New Name

Keiko™ (Adored) Itoh Peony
Previously known as 'Pink Double Dandy'
Paeonia (Intersectional hybrid) x Keiko™

USDA Zone 4 – 8

The large, semi-double to double flower measures up to six inches and is held on strong stems above a compact mound of 24 to 30 inches tall and wide, dark green foliage. As the flower matures, the dark lavender pink petals slowly fade to a soft pink, revealing a cluster of yellow stamens in its center. The flower is lightly fragrant. Prefers full sun to dappled shade.

2010 Introduction – New Name

Yumi™ (Beauty) Itoh Peony
Previously known as 'Yellow Doodle Dandy'
Paeonia (Intersectional hybrid) x Yumi™

USDA Zone 4 – 8

The large, double flower, measuring seven to eight inches, is spectacular: masses of clear yellow petals form a perfect flower with a light and very pleasant fragrance. Blooms are held on strong stems just above a compact mound of dark green, trouble-free foliage. Plant is very hardy and prefers full sun to dappled shade. Excellent dark green foliage, it lasts well into autumn.

These new Itoh Peonies are exclusive Monrovia introductions and will be available only in independent garden centers. View all Itoh Peonies in the collection. For more information or to locate a garden center, visit


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NOTE: High res images available

Background on Monrovia:

Founded in 1926, Monrovia is the leading grower of premium ornamental and edible plants, with more than 2,500 varieties. The company has introduced hundreds of improved plants, including more than 230 exclusives. Monrovia's Distinctively Better™ plants are nurtured in custom-blended, premium soil mixes, to produce healthy plants that flourish in the landscape. Monrovia soils and organic fertilizers are now packaged for home use. From its five, eco-friendly nurseries in Visalia and Venice Hills, Calif., Dayton, Ore., LaGrange, N.C. and Cairo, Ga., Monrovia ships plants to independent garden centers and re-wholesalers nationwide. The company remains a family owned entity.