Grow Perfect Peonies

Looking for a no-fuss perennial for your garden that will provided years of blooms will little maintenance? If the answer is yes, then you should consider growing peonies. These beautiful herbaceous perennials provide lots of color and beautiful blooms for floral arrangements.

Peony care isn’t too complicated once you know what they need. And peony colors can range from white to pinks and reds. Follow these tips for growing perfect peonies every year!

pink peony

What you need to know about growing peonies

Why your peonies are not blooming

As carefree as peonies are, there are two rules you must follow to keep your peonies blooming.

First, you shouldn’t plant your peonies in shade. Peonies require 6 or more hours of sunlight a day. If they are planted in a shady spot, they will not flower well, if at all.

Second, don’t expecting a lot of blooms after planting your peony the first year. The first year the plant spends developing a good root system and foliage, by the second year you will notice a lot more buds and flowers.

Lastly, but most importantly, when planting peonies the “eyes” of the plant (where new growth emerges) should not be planted more than 2 inches deeper than the soil level. 

Transplanting peonies

white peony

Peonies do not need to be divided and moved as often as a lot of other garden perennials. The only reason your peonies should be divided is because they are growing too well and you need to make room, or you would like to share them with a frugal garden friend.

The best time for peony transplanting is in the fall. Dig up your clump and use a sharp shovel or spade to divide the clump. Be careful to leave 3-5 eyes in each division.  Keep your peony transplant well-watered, and expect to wait 2-3 years for them to bloom. 

Peonies and ants

Ants on peonies

Are those ants you see crawling all over your peony buds doing them any harm? Not usually. Ants are attracted to peonies because they feast on the sugary syrup produced by the buds. However, you may want to look closer as ants are known farmers of aphids. If you don’t see evidence of aphids on your plants, then the ants are just after the sugary syrup the plant naturally makes. 

Peonies falling over

floppy peony

Are your peonies falling over? Do you find your beautiful clump of flowers ends up on the ground after some rain? If your plant has gotten too large it may be time to consider dividing it. However, that annoying habit of peonies to fall over can be prevented by staking the plants. Look into buying a peony support of some kind of making your own stakes. 

Peony care

blight

Peonies are bothered by very few things. Nevertheless, you should look out for foliage that turns black and wilts, which is a problem when plants are infected by botrytis blight. You may also find black and rotten stems, gray mold near the base of the plant, and buds that withered. In either case, remove and destroy the plant.

The most common problem you’ll encounter growing peonies will be powdery mildew. To prevent powdery mildew, don’t water the foliage of the plants. Consider moving plants near the foundation of your home or building where they get a lot of runoff from the roof. In the fall, cut down the peony foliage and clear up any debris around the plant. 

What are tree peonies?

Tree Peony

Sometimes also known as Japanese peonies, tree peonies are related to the herbaceous peony described in this post, and native to China. Tree peonies are much larger, their flowers more dramatic, but they grow more like shrubs than actual trees. Tree peonies bloom right before the regular peonies, which usually stop blooming after June. 

Additional tips for growing peonies

  • Experts say you can’t grow peonies successfully in Florida, Southern California, and the deep South. Zone 8 is said to be the warmest zone for peonies. In warmer climates, peonies will last longer if given some shade during hottest part of the day.
  • Well situated peonies can bloom for 100 years or more with little attention. Peonies need sunny location with well-drained soil and good air circulation around the plant. 
  • The best time to transplant peonies is during fall tree planting, but in early spring you can plant peony roots.
  • Late June marks the end of peony season in most gardens, but it is also the perfect time to shop for clearance plants at garden centers. Plants get discounted after blooming and you can score some good deals if you’re a frugal gardener.

Do you have peonies growing in your garden? 

 

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