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Peonies: How to Plant, Grow and Care for Peony Flowers

One of nature’s most stunning creations is the peony. With dark green leaves and pink-white blossoms, it makes a lovely addition to any garden.

Summer and spring are the best times to see the plant in flower. Hardiness zones 2 to 8 are suitable for this perennial blooming plant. Although this may be grown as an annual in other zones.

It’s fascinating to grow or maintain this plant in the yard or in a container because of its lovely cluster of blossoms.
Here, we’ll discuss how to grow peonies. And anything that we need to know to grow beautiful peonies. 

So, if you are interested in growing this wonderful flowering plant.
Continue reading…


Peonies

Let’s begin by learning more about this flower’s characteristics. It’s a well-known flower, so learning more about its ancestry would be fascinating. In the Paeoniaceae family, the peony is native to Asia, Europe, and North and Central America.

Peonies

Peonies can be found in a range of 25 to 40 distinct species, however, the most common number is 33. It comes in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes, and each one is unique.

Many cultivars of peony have been developed by scientists for decorative purposes as well as pest and disease resistance.
Peony typically reaches a height of approximately 1 meter, while the woody bushes can reach a height of over 3 meters.

It has a wide range of colors, including pink, white, and yellow. The bloom lasts only a short period, usually seven to ten days.

In temperate climates, peonies are a common flowering plant. As a cut flower, herbaceous peony can bloom from late summer to early spring.

Also Read: 20 best flowering plants for pots


Quick Guide

Common NamePeony
Scientific NamePeonia
Plant typePerennial flower
Mature Size3 to 4 feet taller and up to 3 feet wider
Sun ExposureFull sun to part shade 
Soil Typeaverage, well-drained soil
Soil pHNeutral to Slightly acidic 
Bloom TimeSummer, Spring, and fall (depending upon species) 
Flower Colorpink to red, white and yellow
Hardiness Zones2 to 8 USDA 
Native Area Asia, Europe, Western and Northern America

Types of the peony plant

Peony flowers come in six varieties: Japanese, Anemone, single, semi-double, double, and bomb. Some plants, like ‘Festiva Maxima’ and ‘Duchesse de Nemours,’ have enticing rose-like aromas, while others are lemony or have no perfume at all.’

Herbaceous peonies: Plant them with their “eyes” (next year’s buds) 12 inches to 2 inches below the soil surface (in warmer zones) or 2 inches (in cooler zones).

Trees peonies: should be planted deeper than herbaceous plants. Experts recommend drilling a two-foot-deep, one-foot-wide pit and amending the backfill with organic stuff. So that the “nurse” herbaceous peony rootstock dies away, place the graft 4 to 6 inches below ground level.

Intersectional peonies: Plant slightly below the soil surface, 1/2 inch deep in warm zones, 1.5 inches deep in cooler zones, intersectional.


How to grow peonies

Peony

It’s a joy to grow peonies in the yard or in a container because of the gorgeous flowers that bloom in the spring and summer. It is not difficult to cultivate, but you must ensure that the blooms are attractive. To get the best out of your flowers, you need to supply them with the right environment. Propagation methods include stem cuttings and seeds. We’ll go through these two approaches in more detail later on.

When to plant

This plant full bloom from the end of spring to the beginning of summer. Planting peony in the fall, according to many gardeners, will result in bigger blooms the following year. It may be planted before the ground is frozen or winter has arrived.

To ensure that it blooms well the next year. Peonies that are planted in the spring or summer tend to produce very little blooms. Low-colored or dull-looking blooms are common. The optimal time to grow them is in the late fall or early winter.

Where do peonies grow best

It may be grown both in the ground and in containers. To develop a flower, this plant needs full sunlight and well-drained soil. Every year, in the spring and summer, it blooms. Compared to you, peonies have a much longer life span.

A few peonies have been known to live for more than 100 years. There is no need for mountains to grow peonies after they have been established. The best place to grow peony is in full sunlight.


How deep to plant peony

The depth at which you plant your peony will be determined by the variety and the climate in which you live.

Also Read Coleus: How to grow beautiful coleus foliage.


How to grow peony from seeds

Peony may be grown from seed as well. Most gardeners, however, do not favor this approach. Seeds take a long time to mature and blossom, especially if they are grown from scratch. Additionally, the seed of your peony may fail to germinate on occasion. Cultivar seeds rarely produce plants that are genetically identical. Buying original seeds is the only way to grow a cultivar from seeds. 


How to grow peony from stem cuttings

peony

Stem cutting is the ideal method to produce multiple peonies from one plant. The peony is generally sold in bare-root tubes, divided into small plants. You can plant them in the ground and they keep growing. 

To grow peony from stem cuttings.

  • Angelonia plants can be easily propagated indoors using stem cuttings.
  • Remove all leaves and save the top pair from the stem cutting with no bloom. Without roots, a stem cutting can’t support many leaves.
  • To reveal the cutting’s fresh white-green tissue, trim the bottom tip of the cutting. Planting a stem cutting with a dark area may cause it to not grow properly.
  • Dip the bottom tip of the cutting in rooting hormone and place it in well-drained potting soil.
  • Use a medium-sized pot with plenty of drainage holes.
  • Place the pot in the shade until it reaches a height of five to six inches. This indicator indicates that the cutting has begun to establish roots and is now receiving regular sunshine.
  • After a month, when it has a few pairs of leaves, move the pot outside for two to three hours each day to acclimate it to the outside environment. After a week of this, transplant it into the garden.

Transplant

Flowers like the peony have long roots. Once a plant has been established, it is extremely difficult or impossible to remove it from its current location. If you must move them, it is preferable to divide them and start over in the new area, or to grow a new peony from stem cuttings.


Divide

Regular division does not require not continuous growth of peony. However, if you want to grow more peonies, you can divide them to propagate. Divide them during fall, as they go in the dormant. Its roots cut into 2-3 stem growing spot is best for success.

How to divide peonies

You can divide mature peonies to propagate multiple new peonies.

Below are the steps to divide a peony plant.

  1. Take a shovel, and dig out the plant from the ground. You need to toss out the whole plant with its roots.
  2. Dig large circumstances around the plant as their roots are deep in the ground.
  3. Wash the roots of the plant to remove dirt. 
  4. Cut the roots along with stem cuttings into 2-3 different sections.
  5. Do not take more than 3 sections, it can weaken the plant.
  6. Plant these sections in different locations to propagate new peonies.
  7. Water the soil to make it moist.
  8. The plant will get established in one to two months. You know when it starts producing new foliage.

Care

peony

Caring for peonies is not much difficult once it gets established. There are some basic requirements to full and they keep growing themself. Below are ideal conditions to grow peonies. 

Light

Light is essential for any plant’s growth. Some plants may prefer full sun whereas others may prefer shade. Peonies prefer full sun to grow beautiful flowers. Plant them where they get continuous six to eight hours of direct sunlight. However, this varies where you live.

If you live in the southern part of the USA, peonies will need partial shade in the hot summer. Ideally, it should get early morning sunlight and afternoon shade. 

This is because in the morning sunlight is less intense, helping to make flower petals fresh. In the afternoon, especially during summer, sunlight becomes harsh which causes leaf burn. 

Also, Excessive shade can stop the growth or bloom of the plant.

Water

Adequate water for peonies is important for their growth. However, peonies are not thirsty plants that require frequent watering. You have to just keep their soil moist.

You can forget about them and keep them growing themself, if in the rainy season. 

Water peonies only when there is no rain for more than two weeks. Excessive watering or too wet soil can cause multiple problems and diseases in the plant. 

To avoid this, water the plant only when its soil gets dry. Overwatering often causes diseases like root rot and fungal diseases. 

If you live in a high humidity region, water directly in the roots of the plant. Water onto the plant makes leaves and flowers wet which increases the chances of fungal diseases like powdery mildew. 

Soil 

Peonies prefer well-drained soil. The soil may not be too rich or fertilized but drainage is a must. Peonies can bloom in average soil. 

Plant them where the soil does not stay water. You can prepare good-quality soil by adding organic matter like used tea bags, banana peels, and mold leaves. These organic matters not only improve soil quality but also make soil drainage better. 

Fertilizer

Peony

Fertilizing is not too important to peonies if you added organic matter when planting. However, for better growth, you can amend some organic matter in the soil every new year. 

Adding conventional fertilizer is not needed. Many conventional fertilizers are high in nitrogen. These fertilizers do not increase the bloom, instead, grow excessive leaves on the plant. 

Feeding too much fertilizer to plants can also lead to multiple diseases and poor growth. You can create organic compost to fertilize your plant for better growth. 

Temperature and humidity

Peonies like to bloom in full sunlight. Temperature is not a direct factor in the growth of peonies. However, the changing temperature can decide the way to hand your plant. 

For example, during hot summer the plant requires more water than normal. You might have to water them frequently to keep the soil moist.

You can also spread a thick layer of mulch around the plant to retain moisture for a longer duration. 

In the winter, the plant does not require much water and they are overwintering. In a humid climate, try to keep the soil moist but avoid overwatering.

Prune

Pruning helps to keep plants neat and clean but removes overgrown flowers and leaves. In-plant plant pruning encourages the growth of new bloom but that’s not the case with peonies.

This flower does not require pruning for good bloom. Peonies need pruning only to remove damage or nay diseases spreading through its stem. 

You can prune or deadhead fade flowers or yellow leaves from the plant. This will make them look neat. Also, this ripped or old plant of the flower might be dead, but they keep sucking plant energy. 

Removing or cutting them out from the plant will redirect energy to growing new leaves and flowers.

Pruning practices are different for different peonies varieties: 

Herbaceous peonies – Cut these peonies at the end of the growing season to the ground for good growth in the upcoming season.

Intersectional peonies – Cut them at the end of the season, leaving 4 to 6 inches above the ground.

Common pests and diseases

When planted too close, hyacinth plants sometimes suffer from fungal diseases like powdery mildew. This is a strong flowering plant that is not infested by pests.

But, if not cared for properly or in odd conditions it becomes susceptible to pests such as Verticillium wilt, Ringspot virus, Nematodes, Tip blight, Japanese beetles, leaf blotch, Stem rot, Botrytis blight. Peonies are deer-resistant, you can grow them companions with other crops to protect them.


How Long to bloom

Peonies bloom when they get established in ideal conditions. If you plant this year, you can expect blooms in the next growing season. 

The peonies usually bloom during April, May, and June. Different varieties bloom at different duration tree peonies bloom around Mother’s day, followed by herbaceous peonies bloom around memorial day, and then intersectional peonies in the end. 


Why are my peonies not blooming?

peonies not blomming?

Peonies don’t bloom for multiple reasons. This happens because of a lack of care or proper condition. Some common reasons for peonies not blooming are:

  • Lack of light – blooming peonies require at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight. If you planted your peonies under a tree shade under shade, it will affect their growth. In the hot climate, peonies do need partial shade but their sunlight need must be fulfilled.
  • Lack of water – Not getting adequate water might be an issue for the poor growth of peonies. This flowering does not need heavy watering, but you need to keep its soil moist. Water them once a day to make their soil moist. In the rainy season, the plant does not need any extra watering.
  • Poor soil – Though peonies thrive in average well-drained soil. But, they must not be too soggy or a clump of dirt. Use normal garden soil amended with some organic compost. If the plant is not in bloom add some organic matter to the soil instead of conventional fertilizer.
  • Soil heavily fed by nitrogen – Many gardens make mistakes. They over-fertilize a plant. Feeding the plant too much fertilizer will not boost its flower growth. Rather it increases the growth of leaves and stems which leads to an imbalance in plants. Adding too much fertilizer can damage lantai permanently.
  • Your plant might be too young – The peonies take 1 year to mature. If you plant them in the fall season. You can expect it to bloom in the next growing year.

How to overwinter peonies plant?

To overwinter mulch a thick layer of organic materials such as pine needles or shredded bark in very cold areas. Mulch should be kept a few inches away from the plant’s base. Early in the spring, remove the mulch to allow fresh growth at the soil surface. In Zone 4 and colder portions of Zone 5, winter protection with burlap and a 3 to 4-inch layer of mulch (taken aside in the spring) is recommended for tree peony.


Some popular variety of peony

Peony

There are hundreds of varieties and cultivars of peonies available in the market. But, here I listed some popular peony varieties that you will love to grow.

“Sarah Bernhardt”

This is a herbaceous peony that grows in the hardiness zones 3-8. It is a late-blooming plant that produces huge fragrant flowers. It may reach a height of three feet, is great for cutting, and has a history of flowering consistently.

“Coral charm”

These are herbaceous peonies that grow in the hardiness range 3-8. The deep coral buds that transition to coral-peach blossoms earned this early bloomer. A vigorous grower that does well in northern and southern zones.

“Karl Rosenfield”

During the middle to end of the season, this traditional hybrid blooms. Its sweet-smelling, 8-inch-wide blossoms may last up to six weeks and have a long vase life. Stunning in the yard and in the vase.

“Festiva maxima”

This heirloom’s deep red dappling makes it very unique. The perfume of the big blossoms is full-bodied. It’s a great choice for both cutting gardens and flowerbeds.

“Pink Hawaiian coral”

Carpels and stamens are cream-colored, with rounded petals and delicate golden stamens. Even when the blossoms fade to apricot and light yellow, they remain beautiful.

“Red Charm”

Early and lengthy blooming, this is a traditional peony. Heat tolerance and sturdiness are two of ‘Red Charm’s’ strong suits. The South would be well served by this option.

“Paula Fay”

Oldie but a goodie: early-blooming and fragrant, as well as floriferous and hardy.

“Hephestos”

This is a tree peony variety. If you live in an area where severe winds are a problem, be cautious to protect the plant’s long stems.

“High noon”

The lemony aroma fills the air around the enormous yellow blossoms. Late spring to early summer bloom with the possibility of late summer bloom. In the fall, the leaves become a dark purple-bronze color.

“Marchioness”

Each single form flower on this heavy bloomer measures 6 inches across. It is a tree peony that grows as a strong 3-foot-tall spherical shrub, vigorous and beautiful.

“Bartzella”

Lemony and spicy scents fill the air when the 6 to 9-inch-wide golden flowers bloom. As many as 80 blossoms might be produced by plants in a single season.

“First Arrival”

An Itoh variety is the first intersectional peonies to bloom in the growing season. Flowers become a lighter color as they open. Flowers double in size as plants develop, and thrive in hardiness zone 4-8.


How to use peonies?

People love peonies cut in vases. 

  • Peonies are excellent cut flowers that will survive for more than a week in a vase. 
  • Cut lengthy stems in the morning when the buds are still tight for optimal results.
  • Freshly cut peony stems can be wrapped in a moist paper towel and stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator until ready to use. 
  • Remove the stems from the peonies and give them a new cut before putting them in lukewarm water to wake them up.
  • They’re perfect for wedding bouquets and centerpieces, as well as daily bouquets and arrangements. If you can’t cultivate your own, the best-cut peony variety is generally available between April and June. 
  • They look excellent alone or in arrangements with roses, wildflowers, ferns, protea, eucalyptus, and other plants.

FAQ

peonies

Why are there ants on my peonies?

The delicious nectar secreted by peony blossoms attracts ants. The ants aren’t harmful to the plant, and their presence isn’t necessary for the blossoms to emerge. To get rid of ants, carefully clean the blooms in a bowl of water before bringing them home.

Why do leaves curl?

It is a symptom of stress when the leaves of a peony curl. Lack of hydration, a virus, or extreme weather conditions can all contribute to this. If the problem is resolved, many plants recover from leaf curl and blossom normally.

What do peonies symbolize?

The peony is typically offered on important occasions as a gesture of goodwill, best wishes, and delight, and is generally indicative of love, honor, happiness, riches, romance, and beauty.

Are peonies toxic to dogs and cats?

Peonies are colorful flowers containing phenol, a toxin known to be harmful to cats and dogs. If ingested in large amounts peonies can cause mild to moderate signs of poisoning. Some common signs to watch for would be gastrointestinal upset, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Also read: 10 beautiful flowers that are poisonous