Peonies are large, luscious and sweetly-scented blooms that give roses a run for their money! These long-lasting, easy to grow and hardy flowers are popular ornamental plants that add colour and fragrance to gardens. They can live for decades with minimal care and maintenance. True perennials can live to be 50 years or more!
Here are some tips for growing peonies:
When to plant:
- Bare root peonies should be planted/transplanted in the early fall. Container-grown peonies can be planted at any time.
- Peonies will thrive in climate zones: 3-8
Where to plant:
- Peonies are sun-loving plants that need at least 6 hours of sunlight each day to thrive. Full sun will produce plants with larger and more blooms.
- They can adapt to any type of soil, but they do best in well-drained, slightly acidic soils. If your soil is heavy and clay-like, add compost or some sand to amend the soil. Buds will not develop in waterlogged soils.
- Choose a location that will give peonies shelter from strong winds and also away from other trees/shrubs as peonies don’t like to compete for food and moisture.
- The tuber should be planted close to the soil surface. In colder climates, the “eyes” should be about 2-3 inches deep. In warmer climates, they can be planted about an inch deep. Peonies need to be exposed to winter temperatures to reach dormancy to set buds.
- Avoid mulching the soil at the base of the plant, as this will gradually bury the crown and the plant will not produce any flowers.
- Be sure to give peonies enough space to grow to maturity without being overcrowded, about 3-4 feet of space should suffice. Good air circulation between plants will help prevent diseases, such as gray mold.
- Topdressing with a layer of compost will add necessary nutrients to the soil.
- Water thoroughly after the first planting and keep soil moist, but not waterlogged.
Care and Maintenance:
- Peonies don’t need to be dug up and divided, although some gardeners choose to. Wait at least 3 years before dividing. Divide in the fall.
- Peonies can be fertilized about once a year, in the early summer, after the flowers have bloomed and been deadheaded.
- The stems of peonies can be weak; staking will help support the plant’s gigantic blossoms, so they don’t flop over. Stake early in the growing season for the best results.
- Deadhead once the blossoms have started to fade. Cut the foliage to the ground in the fall to prevent diseases.
- Peonies rarely bloom during the first year of planting or transplanting. Give the plant at 3-4 years to produce flowers.
- The sweet nectar in the peonies will attract ants, but the ants won’t do any damage to the plants. There’s no need to kill the ants, as they seem to help the plants bloom.
Cut Flower Care
- Peonies make excellent cut flowers and can last about a week.
- Cut flowers when the buds are just starting to unfurl.
- Be sure to shake off the ants before bringing the flowers inside.
- For longer lasting flowers, place the cut peonies in a cool location.
- Fun Flower Facts: Peony (funflowerfacts.com)