Caring for Peonies

The care information provided in this section represents the kind of practical advice is available for all the plants in this web site if you subscribe to the monthly customized newsletter Yardener’s Advisor.

Watering Peonies
Ideally, peonies should get about 1 inch of water a week from rain or from a watering system. If your plants haven't gotten 1 inch of water during the week, check the soil to see if you need to water. Use a sprinkler or soaker hose to get gradual penetration to a depth of 10 to 12 inches. For information on products see the file on Choosing Watering Equipment

Fertilizing Peonies
Feed peonies early each spring with a handful of general- purpose granular fertilizer, preferably with a slow release form of nitrogen. Avoid letting fresh manure contact fleshy roots. Some serious gardeners spray peony foliage with a dilute solution of liquid fertilizer or seaweed extract once or twice during the growing season to improve their drought and disease resistance. For more information see the file for Fertilizers

Consider Plant Growth Activators
There are on the market a growing number of products that will help your plants become healthier, more drought resistant, more disease resistant, and even more insect resistant. These products are generally easy to use and not terribly expensive. If you want to give your plants some oomph, check out New Technology In Plant Growth Activators

Mulching Peonies
Mulching helps control weeds, conserves soil moisture, and keeps dirt from splashing up on the flowers. Spread a 1 to 2 inch layer of shredded bark, chopped leaves, wood chips, dried grass clippings or other attractive organic materials on the soil around the peony plants, bearing in mind that peony eyes should never be more than 1 inch below the surface. Mulch will also cool the soil during the hottest summer months.
.Even though they are extremely hardy, peonies appreciate a winter mulch, especially their first winter. When the ground has frozen solid, spread a thick blanket of some organic material like evergreen branches, chopped leaves or straw that will allow air and water through. This will insulate the soil from extreme fluctuations in temperature which cause it to heave and disturb shallowly planted peony plants. For more information see the file on Using Mulch

Pruning/Grooming Peonies
To get bigger blossoms on your plant, remove side buds early in their development, leaving those at the end of stems to benefit from maximum nutrition and grow very large. Deadhead (cut off) faded peony flowers regularly during their bloom period. Also cut out damaged stems or unhealthy looking leaves

Staking Peonies
Well-established peony clumps and those plants with very large flowers may need staking. Before buds begin to break open, set 4 stakes into the ground around the clump, taking care not to damage it, and lace heavy twine or wire back and forth among the tops forming a lattice through which blossom-bearing peony stems can grow and be supported. Alternatively, use ready-made metal staking rings. For more information see the file Staking Flowers

Propagating Peonies
Peony clumps need not be disturbed for as long as ten or even 20 years, but can be divided to provide more plants. To divide a root clump, gently dig it up. With a sharp knife, cut the clump into sections, leaving at least three "eyes", or growing points, on each section. Replant each section immediately, and at the proper depth, in a prepared bed.