This post may have affiliate links. If you click one of these links and make a purchase, we will be paid a commission at no additional cost to you.Peonies are not only beautiful but have such an amazing fragrance as well. If you love peonies but haven’t grown them in the past, you might be wondering how to grow peonies.
Peonies are one of the most popular garden plants and are considered to be the queen of the garden. These beautiful and attractive flowers come in a variety of colors including purple-red, white and yellow.
They make beautiful cut flowers for vases around your home.
As I mentioned above, the flowers also emit a delightful fragrance. They live for many long years (some are known to have lived over 100 years!) and peonies bloom year after year even with little maintenance.
Peonies are available in many varieties including the old-fashioned double peonies, but there are also many new hybrid varieties available in the market. These hybrid peonies can withstand cold winters and harsh weather conditions.
Most of the peony varieties produce flowers that are found in a kind of dish shape. You do need to be patient, since it can take 3 years before your peonies start blooming after being planted.
Here are some gardening tips about how to grow peonies, how to take care of them, the best place to plant them along with various other information that will help you to gain a better understanding of growing these beautiful garden plants in your backyard garden.
When to Plant Peonies
When planting peonies they do best when planted in the fall. Depending on where you live, will depend on when specifically to plant them.
When making plans on when to plant peonies, plan to approximately 6 weeks before your ground freezes.
If you are planning to divide your peony roots, you will want to do so about this same time.
Where to Plant Peonies
If peonies are planted in areas without enough sunlight, it can cause the peonies to have stunted growth and may even cause them not to bloom regularly.
Or if your peonies bloom, the flowers may be smaller in size.
So making sure your peony plants get at least 6 hours of direct sun will help, although it is always good to have these flowers placed in direct sunlight and have full sun throughout the day.
Without enough sun there is also an increased chance of your plants getting infested with some kind of fungal disease or infection.
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What type of soil is best for peonies?
Peonies need well-draining soil to do well. They also like the soil to be slightly acidic.
Preparing the Soil for Planting Peonies
If your soil is heavy and clay-like, then you will want to amend the soil with compost or soil with nitrogen and phosphorous mixed into it before planting.
This soil amendment will help the plants to settle in nicely as well as make the root stronger and more stable.
Peonies can survive for more than 70 years and some plants have been known to survive longer than 100. So it makes sense that you want to create the best growing conditions you can for your peonies before planting. This should help your peonies have the best chance of living a long, healthy life.
What Part of the Peony to Plant
When it comes to planting peonies, you can transplant the whole plant or just plant the bare root peonies into your garden.
Peony plants come with a root that contains a minimum of 3 eyes and like potatoes, the eyes of the peonies start growing from tiny buds in red color. These peony buds grow into large stems.
When planting your peony, make sure the root contains at least 3 eyes. By making sure the root has 3 eyes you are increasing your chances that the peony will bloom within the first couple of years as well as survive the planting.
If the root has less than 3 eyes, you can still plant it, it just might take longer for it to bloom and the flowers may be smaller than one with more eyes.
How Deeply to Plant Peonies
Peonies only need to be planted about 2-3 inches deep at most. You don’t want to plant them too deep, otherwise the peony flowers won’t bloom.
Peonies set their buds during the winter and need to be close to the surface to do so.
When planting the peonies, make sure to dig a planting hole that is large enough to accommodate the roots spread out comfortably. And always remember to place the tuber with its eyes facing the top of the soil surface.
Fill in the hole with soil, but make sure not to put too much soil over the roots.
How Much Space Do Peony Plants Need?
When you planting peonies in your backyard garden, make sure to provide enough space in between each and every plant so that your plants aren’t too crowded.
One thing to know about spacing with peony plants is that there isn’t a hard and fast rule that they need to be spaced every 2 feet or anything like that.
To figure out how far apart they should be spaced depends on how you want them to be. So, if you want the peony to get large, almost like that of a bush you should plant them further apart (3-4 feet), but if you are wanting more of a hedge of peonies then plant them closer together (2-3 feet).
Do make sure to give them space, even if you are planning for your peonies to be a hedge. If they are planted too close together, the air flow is limited and can cause them to develop botrytis or gray mold.
Peonies can be divided, but know that after dividing peonies can take another 2-3 years for the peonies to bloom again. So you will want to wait as long as possible before doing this.
When dividing make sure to use a sharp knife or another strong and sharp tool. Also, remember to make sure each section contains at least 3 eyes. You will want to replant immediately after dividing.
Can you grow peonies in a pot?
Even though peonies are one of the most popular flowering plants for the garden, they can be grown easily in pots with proper care and attention.
To make sure you have success you will want to make sure you have a pot or a container that is large in size with enough drainage holes. The planter will need to be placed somewhere that receives sufficient sunlight.
If you have a balcony that might be the perfect place.
During winter you will want to make sure to bring the pots inside your house so that they don’t get frozen. Make sure to water the plants regularly to allow for proper and sustained growth.
Peony Care & Pruning
Peonies don’t need regular pruning to survive like roses.
You only need to prune in cases of damage or if the plant is infected with diseases.
In the event of an infection, make sure to cut out the portion of the stem immediately in order to prevent the infection spreading to the other areas of the stem.
When it comes to tree peonies, don’t cut the bottom of the stem as they grow slowly. Every inch of the stem is precious and required for the proper growth of your peonies.
After a period of 5-6 years, you can have the suckers removed from the center to allow for better air circulation.
I hope the above article has provided you with enough information on how to grow and take care of your peonies.
Please post any suggestions and your experience in growing peonies.
Hi I have peonies in my back yard and get plenty of sunshine. When I moved in about 18 years ago my bushes would get big and had tons of flowers on them. I was told it was ok to mow them down in the fall after they have finished budding. Over the years my peonies well have gotten puny to say the least. They hardly grow and bud. What could be the problem Thank you Raynette
I hope I can be of help to you.
My first thought is the peonies might be over-crowded. Have you divided the peonies at all since you’ve moved in? If you haven’t or it’s been several years (5+), I would try dividing them. Keep in mind that after you divide the plants and replant them, it will be at least a year (or 2 to 3) until you have blooms again.
When is the best time to plant new peonies or divide and transplant them?
During the fall is the best time to plant new peonies, but exactly when will depend on your location. You would want to divide peonies at this same time.
When do plants the peony bulbs winter,spring or fall, I live in Houston, Tx TY!
It looks like the best time to plant peonies is either in late fall/early winter (Nov-Dec) or late Winter (late Jan-Feb)
I am not familiar with the zone Houston is in but peonies need winter chill, a dormant time to rest and ready themselves for spring. Also, though peonies do need a good 6 hours of sun to bloom well, they may not appreciate the heat that comes with the sun in the afternoon. You may want to find a spot where they get morning sun and go into light shade in the hottest part of the afternoon.
You can’t mow down the plants after the flowers fade. The plants need to replenish their energy all summer with the leaves in order to flower nicely again the following spring.
Agreed, never mow down until they ‘die down’ – also use a side dressing of potato fertiliser
Kimberly Chapman says
I’ve grown peonies for several years, and am surprised that no one mentioned the ants! Without them, the peonies ( I’ve heard ), won’t bloom. Through the years I have moved and took them with me, and every time I’ve replanted. In no time even if there are NO signs of ants there, they always show up!! My peonies bloom beautifully though!! If I’m concerned about an ant infestation, then I plant them, out in the yard, away from the house!
I hadn’t heard that peonies need ants to bloom – that is so interesting! Thank you for sharing that.
Mary Anne Franchetti says
Peonies DON’T need ants to bloom, the ants HELP with the process of the opening of the flower and also like the aphids that like to feast on the buds……they real reason for the ant attraction to the peony buds…..
Yay! Yes, they are attracted to the buds. They are also attracted to the aphids that also like the buds 😊
I’ve been in nursery business for over 30 years and if I had a buckle for every customer that came looking for something to kill the ants, well I wouldn’t be rich but I would be a couple house payments ahead!
HaHa… nickel not buckle!
I’ve always heard that as well. My mother had beautiful peony’s and there was always ants on them to chew off the tough green covering on the buds. She fussed at me as a child because I was killing the ants and she said they needed the ants to open their blooms. I know mine don’t start blooming until the ants are on them as well.
I have (or had?) a Sorbet peony that bloomed beautiful blooms from the huge black tub it is in. I then stuck a Forsythia cutting in it to root it, and have since removed it, but the peony never came back up, and I don’t know if it died or is still in the tub. Could the roots from rooting the forsythia have killed it? Or do I have to wait a couple years to see if it even comes back up? I tried not to mess with the soil more than I had to, in removing the Forsythia that I rooted in the tub. (I will never do that again!)
I have two peonies in the front of my house that has large shade trees. One gets about 3 hours of sun the other 6. The plant that gets 3 hours produces so many more flowers than the one with more sun. I have had them both in the same place for 4 years now, the shaded one got at least 3 blooms every year, and this is the first time the one with more sun has bloomed with only one blossom. Do different verities need less sun?
Gilberta DeShong says
Can you grow peony’s in Florida
We are selling my mother’s estate in a couple months. I have to take what flowers I want now. Which means her peonies. Is there any precautions I need to take with moving them in the early part of June?
Can I transplant ones that have buds on them ? They are larger this year and there are 8 or 9 in a triangle area that’s about 4ft ish x 4ft ish and 6 ft on long side. I can dig about a ft wide hole around each bulb deep enough to get a lot more. I have a long fence they would fit better on
Teresa Lyons says
I have 8 peony that we know for sure they are over 100 years old. I have a picture from where my great grandparents bought their house in 1903 and they are in the picture. They are still there now. My grandmother said they were never replaced. It is the same ones.
I planted 2 peony roots over 5 years ago. They are planted about 3’ apart and get direct sun from about 9 am till sunset. I am on coastal Virginia. My plants seem to die off each winter and resprout each spring, but never grow taller than about 9”, and have never flowered. My mother has a beautiful white 40 year old peony that blooms gorgeous every year and she does nothing to it. What could I be doing wrong that mine regrows every year but won’t get big enough to bloom.
C H says
My plant’s buds didn’t open last season and the ants were gone. They previously had numerous buds and had been beautiful for many years.
Kimberly, how deep are your tubes planted. It sounds like they are too deep and need to be brought to the surface. That will help them bloom.