How to Care For Peonies (Expert Tips Inside)

How to Care For Peonies (Expert Tips Inside)

Team Muntons

I am a keen plantswoman and love all flowers. I have always been drawn to the beauty and charm of peonies  - one of my favourite flowers to grow in the garden. 

I'm always excited to see their red shoots emerge each spring. Not only are they  stunning in both their early growth and flowers, but peonies are also quite hardy and rewarding plants. Once established, they'll return for many years. Now is the perfect time to divide and replant my peony  tubers to ensure many more seasons of delightful flowers. 

Peonies are easy to grow and can live for decades, often 50 years. However, caring for peonies can be tricky, especially for beginners. 

Bowl of Beauty supported regular peony support

Bowl of Beauty supported regular peony support

Today, I want to share my knowledge and experience with you so you, too, can enjoy the splendour of peonies in your garden

Let's get started!

Understanding Peonies: The Beauty of Your Garden

Peonies are the epitome of beauty in any garden. These stunning flowers come in various colours from the purest white through pinks and corals to vibrant reds. With their large, showy blooms and lush green foliage, they instantly add a touch of elegance and charm to any outdoor space.

There are several types of peonies to choose from, each with its unique characteristics. 

  • Herbaceous Peonies: These are the most commonly grown peonies. They have soft stems that die back to the ground in winter and regrow in spring. They produce large, fragrant flowers in various colours, including white, pink, red, and yellow.
  • Tree Peonies: Tree peonies are woody shrubs that can grow up to 4-5 feet tall. They have sturdy stems that do not die back in winter. Tree peonies produce large, showy flowers in a variety of colours and often have a more extended blooming period than herbaceous peonies.
  • Intersectional Peonies (Itoh Peonies): Intersectional peonies are hybrids between herbaceous and tree peonies. They have the strong stems of tree peonies and the abundant flowers of herbaceous peonies. Intersectional peonies offer a range of colours and bloom for an extended period.
  • Japanese Peonies: Japanese peonies have a distinctive appearance with large, ruffled petals surrounding a centre of smaller petals or stamens. They come in various colours and often have unique patterns on their petals.
  • Anemone Peonies: Anemone peonies resemble Japanese peonies but have a different arrangement of petals. They have a central tuft of petaloid surrounded by larger outer petals. Anemone peonies come in many shades and add a touch of elegance to gardens.

To truly showcase the beauty of your peonies, it's essential to provide them with the proper support. This is where peony supports come in. 

Even young plants will soon fill their suppprts

Even young plants will soon fill their supports

Peony supports, like the ones available at Muntons, are designed to keep your peonies upright and prevent them from toppling over. Whether you choose the regular peony support, the tall peony support, or the Jester, these products will ensure that your peonies stay upright and display their full beauty.

So why wait? Explore the world of peonies and create a garden that will mesmerise everyone.

Choosing the Perfect Spot: When to Plant Your Peonies

As the last frost of spring melts away, my thoughts turn to planting  more peonies. These flowers have brought me years of beauty, and I'm eager to see them bloom again. But choosing just the right location is crucial for success.

Peonies thrive in full sun, so I seek our areas receiving at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day. 

Here is the planting process:

  • Before getting started, I make sure to do some preparation. I lay out the tools I'll need - gloves, a trowel or spade, shears, and the peony root clumps I purchased earlier, either bare-root or pot grown. 
  • The soil must be moist but not waterlogged
  • I begin by finding the spot where I want each peony to go, spaced about 3 feet apart. 
  • Then, I dig the hole. I make sure to loosen the soil at least a foot down and two feet across to accommodate the roots.
  • Once the hole is ready, I focus on the root clump. I use the shears to trim away any broken or diseased from bare-rooted tubers
  • I orient the roots to point downward before placing the bare root in the hole.
  • With the root clump positioned, I backfill around the edges with the loosened soil. 
  • As I work the soil with my hands, I ensure no air pockets around the roots. 
  • Remember to pop on a peony support at this stage; it marks where each tuber is planted and gives immediate support to the growing plant in spring
  • It is important not to bury peonies too deeply: bare rooted peonies should be planted with the crown above the surface and potted plants at the same level as the soil in the pot; water the plant in well. Move on to the remaining holes, repeating the process. 
  • With luck, signs of growth will emerge in a few weeks - the start of another beautiful peony season!

How to Care for Peonies - The Ultimate Care Tips

Peonies are a perennial garden favourite, drawing admirers with lush blooms each spring. But cultivating beautiful peonies takes some know-how. A few tips will help you get the most out of these lovely plants for years to come.

  • Sunlight 

Firstly, providing them with ample sunlight is crucial. Peonies thrive in full sun, so I choose a spot in my garden with at least six hours of direct sunlight daily. This could be a sunny corner or an open area in the garden. I promote healthy growth and abundant blooms by ensuring they receive sufficient sunlight.

  • Watering

For watering, I make sure to water deeply once a week. Peonies prefer consistent moisture, so I thoroughly soak the soil around the plants, allowing the water to penetrate deeply. However, it's important not to overwater or let the soil become waterlogged, as this can lead to root rot. By maintaining proper watering practices, I keep my peonies hydrated and thriving.

  • Fertilising 

Fertilising is another essential aspect of caring for peonies. I apply a balanced fertiliser in early spring to provide the necessary nutrients for robust growth. 

A Tall peony support

A tall peony support

I followed the package instructions for the correct application rate, ensuring I evenly distributed the fertiliser around the base of each plant. Additionally, after the blooming season, I give them another round of fertilisation to support flower production for the following year.

  • Pruning 

Pruning plays a vital role in maintaining the health and appearance of peonies. After the first frost, remove the leaves from herbaceous peonies. This helps prevent the spread of diseases and allows the plants to focus their energy on new growth. 

I use clean pruning shears and make clean cuts near the base of the stems. By practising regular pruning, I keep my peonies tidy and free from potential diseases.

  • Peony Support

Providing support is essential for peonies, mainly as they produce large and heavy flowers. I use the appropriate herbaceous supports for each variety. Traditional peonies will be happy in a regular peony support while the more vigorous, newer varieties need a tall or tall fat peony support to support the stems and prevent them from flopping over. 

  • Inspecting Pests and Diseases

Lastly, regularly inspecting pests and diseases is crucial to catching any issues early on. I carefully examine the leaves, stems, and flowers for any signs of pests like aphids or diseases like powdery mildew. If I notice any problems, I promptly treat them with appropriate organic or chemical controls to prevent further damage and preserve the health of my peonies.

Autumn Rituals: Preparing Your Peonies for Winter

As autumn approaches, I begin my rituals to prepare my peonies for the winter months. 

  • After the first frost, I prune back the foliage. I trim the stems to about 2 inches above ground level, ensuring I remove any dead or diseased parts. This helps prevent the spread of diseases and keeps my peonies looking neat during the dormant season.
  • I mulch my borders in autumn but am careful not to put any mulch over the crown of peonies. They hate being buried and will not produce flowers or may even die if they are buried under layers of mulch.
  • During the colder months, I keep an eye on the moisture levels in the soil. Even though peonies are dormant, they still need some moisture to survive. I water them sparingly, only when the soil is dry and not frozen. This helps prevent dehydration and keeps their roots hydrated.

Summertime Splendour: How to Get Your Peonies Ready for Summer

As summer approaches, I prepare my peonies for their blooming season. 

  • The first step is to make sure no leaves or mulch have covered the crown (thick red buds should be showing above ground) and tidy up around the plants. I clear away any debris or weeds hindering their growth.
  • Inspecting the plants for pests or diseases is crucial to ensure their health during summer. If I notice any signs of trouble, I promptly address them using appropriate organic or chemical controls. This helps keep my peonies pest-free and disease-resistant.
  • Supporting the heavy blooms is essential for maintaining their splendour. As I plant my peonies, I pop on the appropriate support. This both marks where each tuber is planted and also marks exactly where each plant will emerge - the support stays on year-round. As the flowers bloom, I gently tie the stems to the supports, ensuring they stand tall and proud without flopping over.
  • Keeping my peonies well-watered is key to their success in the summer heat. I establish a watering routine, deep watering them once weekly, ensuring the soil is evenly moist but not waterlogged. Mulching around the plants helps retain moisture and suppress weed growth, further aiding their health.
  • Lastly, deadheading spent flowers is a must for continuous blooming. I carefully remove faded blooms, encouraging the plant to redirect its energy towards producing new flowers. This results in a longer blooming period, keeping my garden vibrant and full of colour.

By following these rituals, I ensure my peonies are well-prepared for winter and summer, allowing them to thrive and bring me joy throughout the changing seasons.

Frequently Asked Questions

When should peonies be pruned? 

As a peony enthusiast, I recommend pruning the foliage as soon as you spot any signs of disease. This helps prevent the pathogen from spreading to other leaves and plants. Remember, you don't want to throw the affected leaves in the compost heap.

In autumn cut back all of the foliage to 2-3”

What should I do with my peonies once they have finished flowering? 

Once the blooms have faded, it's essential to remove them to encourage the plant to focus its energy on building up flowers for next year. 

However, ensure you do not cut away any foliage, as the plant needs the leaves to gather energy for next year's blooms. In the case of herbaceous peonies, you can cut the entire plant to the ground after an autumn frost has killed off the foliage.

Conclusion

In caring for peonies, it's important to remember that they are not just any ordinary flower. They require patience, love, and a little bit of extra effort. But trust me, the results are worth it. By following the tips and tricks I've shared in this blog post, you can enjoy beautiful, vibrant peonies in your garden for years to come.

So why wait? Add these care practices to your gardening routine and watch your peonies flourish. And if you're looking for extra support and style for your peonies, consider Muntons.  Designed and handmade in the Cotswolds, Muntons offers long-lasting support while adding an elegant touch to your garden. Happy gardening!

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