When To Feed Peonies

  • Keep plants neat by deadheading and prune as needed (herbaceous only).
  • When peonies become congested and produce fewer blooms, divide the plants.
  • When the blossoms feel like soft marshmallows, cut the stems for bouquets. Water should contain Miracle-Gro for Fresh Cut Flowers.

When the peonies blossom, you can finally start to feel the arrival of summer. Around Memorial Day, when spring bulb flowers are starting to fade and summer blooms are beginning to emerge, these stunning perennials bloom profusely. Peonies are resistant to deer and rabbits, which is useful for gardeners who frequently experience issues with animals eating their plants. Peonies are frequently seen blooming despite years of neglect if you drive through old cemeteries or abandoned farmsteads. That is because to how simple peony are to grow!

How to Choose Peonies

Peonies come in four different varieties. They are forest peonies, tree peonies, herbaceous peonies, and intersectional peonies, in the order of blooming time. Herbaceous peonies, which thrive in zones 3–7, and tree peonies, which flourish in zones 3–9, are the two most popular varieties. Herbaceous plants often reach heights of two to three feet and spreads of two to four feet. With some types reaching heights of 7 feet, tree peony are more closely related to tiny shrubs. The type of peony you plant will depend on where you live and the style you’re going for because all peonies require similar maintenance. The focus of this paper will be on tree and herbaceous peony.

When to Plant Peonies

Fall is the ideal season to plant peonies. This is often when peonies purchased from a catalog will be delivered. It’s okay to plant peonies when you see them flowering and for sale in containers in the spring.

Where to Plant Peonies

Peonies require at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight every day, though in zones 8 and 9, some shade from the sweltering afternoon sun is beneficial. Additionally, picking a location with sufficient air circulation is crucial to avoiding fungal illnesses.

How to Plant Peonies

In somewhat damp, well-drained soil, peonies thrive. Dig a hole, take the plant from the pot, and plant container-grown herbaceous peonies (the kind you buy in pots) so that the top of the root ball is level with the earth (any deeper and the peonies will not bloom). Fill up the area surrounding the plant by combining the discarded soil with an equal amount of Miracle-Gro Garden Soil for Flowers.

Before planting bare root herbaceous peonies, give them a brief dip in a basin of water to rehydrate them. Create a planting hole that is big enough to fit the roots, mix the soil as previously mentioned, and place a mound of the blended soil in the middle of the planting hole. Place the roots atop the mound and let them fan out and descend. Using the remaining blended soil, fill in the remaining portion of the hole, making sure that the “No more than 1 to 2 inches of soil should be present around the plant’s eyes (or growth buds) in order for it to bloom.

Deeper planting is required for tree peony. Unless they are grafted, peonies should be planted in the same soil combination as above, 2 to 4 inches deep at the crown (where the roots meet the stem). Check the label to see if the plant has been grafted, and then plant it such that the “The plant’s graft union, where the grafted top and rootstock are united, is located 4 to 6 inches below the soil line.

How to Stake Peonies

Peony stems are prone to toppling over after it rains, and the blossoms can become big and heavy. For herbaceous peonies, the best approach is to cover each plant in a peony cage in the spring, before the leaves begin to sprout (picture metal supports with rings for the flowers to grow up through). This is far more effective than attempting to hold each flower stalk separately, and it also looks nicer than wrapping the entire plant in string and cinching it in like a belt.

One stake can be used to stake tree peonies. Place the stake next to the stem in the ground, and then use a piece of twine to loosely secure the plant to the stake.

How to Water Peonies

When planting, give everything plenty of water. When the spring foliage begins to emerge and the flower buds start to show, give the plants another drink. Although peonies do not have a thirst, they will benefit from watering during dry spells for a year following the first planting.

How to Feed Peonies

Your peony will benefit from a powerful combination of care that includes excellent soil and the ideal plant food. Give peonies the nutrition they require by feeding them Miracle-Gro Shake ‘n Feed Rose & Bloom Plant Food in addition to the soil improvements indicated above for stunning color and more flowers than unfed plants. Peonies should be fed twice a year: the first time, right after they emerge in the spring (when the new shoots are 2 to 3 inches tall but before the flower buds are pea-sized), and the second time, in the middle of the growing season (about three months after the first feeding), to help them develop sturdy roots before the arrival of winter. Make sure you adhere to label instructions.

How to Help Prevent Problems with Peonies

Although mostly fuss-free, peonies occasionally experience fungal issues. Browning and failure to open flower buds are symptoms of botrytis. Brown patches on leaves are a symptom of some fungus illnesses. Infected blooms and leaves should be simply pruned off and disposed of (do not compost) in order to control these problems. Additionally, keep the plants neat, remove old foliage at the end of the season, and deadhead spent blooms. Peony blooms occasionally draw ants, but they won’t hurt the plants, so you can ignore them. (Contrary to popular belief, peonies do not require ants to blossom.)

How to Prune Peonies

Cut back each flower stalk on herbaceous peonies once all of the blooms have faded to just above a leaf, low enough so that the stem doesn’t protrude above the rest of the leaves. Unruly tree peony can be trimmed either in the spring or the fall (right before plants go dormant). However, any stems you trim back in the fall will not blossom the following spring (as you will be cutting off the flower buds). After blossoming in the spring, you can prune. Anytime you choose to prune, be careful not to take more than one-third of the plant with you.

How to Divide Peonies

It is ideal to leave tree peony alone (undivided) so they can flourish for many generations in the garden. If the clumps have become too large or the flowering has slowed, herbaceous peonies can be divided. Herbaceous peonies can be divided by digging up the entire clump and rinsing it off to reveal the plant’s numerous roots and eyes (or buds). Leave as least one large root and three to four eyes per clump after cutting the plant apart with clean, sharp pruners. Replant, adhering to the bare root peony planting directions above. The plants might or might not flower the first year after dividing, so keep that in mind.

How to Cut Peonies for Bouquets

Timing is crucial. Buds should feel roughly as firm as a soft marshmallow when squeezed, which is known as the “soft marshmallow stage.” Examining the bud’s coloration is another method for determining when to cut. The majority of the bud’s exterior should remain green, but you should be able to make out approximately half an inch of the flower’s vibrant petals. Although cutting the flowers at this point lessens the possibility of bringing ants inside with them, it is still advisable to inspect the flowers before bringing them inside. Plants should open up when stems are placed in a vase of water. For longer-lasting blooms, change the water every few days and apply Miracle-Gro for Fresh Cut Flowers (vs. water only).

Ready to begin peony cultivation? To learn more about a product, to buy it online, or to locate a retailer near you, click on any of the product links above.

Which fertilizer is ideal for peonies?

In most garden centers, you won’t find a particular peony fertilizer, but ones for bulbs and perennial plants work nicely. Use a fertilizer that is balanced or one that has a little less nitrogen. The numbers 10-10-10, 10-20-10, or 5-10-5 are all wise selections.

If your peonies don’t develop many buds and flowers or have few of them, the fertilizer may be the cause. Avert using fertilizers with excessive nitrogen. This promotes less bud formation and more foliage growth.

Consider conducting a soil test if your plants are still giving you difficulties. At your neighborhood extension office, you can test a sample. Additionally, they will provide advice on how to improve the soil for greater development and more blooms.

Do peonies enjoy food?

Feed peonies with a top-dressing of a high-potash fertilizer in the previous fall to promote a robust blossoming season.

A good slow-releasing option is bonemeal. Potassium will promote the growth of flowers. Be careful not to overwater! Peonies don’t like standing water, as was previously said, therefore they should only truly need watering during prolonged dry spells.

Cut back to a vigorous leaf bud as the flowers start to fade and deadhead. In the fall, prune back and remove the foliage from herbaceous peonies. By doing this, the deadly Botrytis that could cause peony wilt is deterred.

Peonies require some time to develop. The younger (and less expensive) the plant, the longer it will take for a great display to develop. Enjoy the brief flowering season and use cut flowers, but try not to cut flower stems in the first year of the plant. Early in the morning, when the buds are still relatively tight, cut lengthy stems and submerge them immediately in cool water. To get the most out of your cut peonies, keep the vase in a cool, shaded area, keep it clean, change the water every day, and trim the bottom leaves. As they finish their spectacular cycle of opening and then losing all of their beautiful petals, that will guarantee the finest display of peonies.

Following bloom, should you fertilize peonies?

In the spring, once development has started and the stems are about 2 to 3 inches high, peonies need nourishment. If your peonies are well-established in your garden or yard, you might want to hold off on fertilizing them until the bloom buds are the size of peas. Fertilizing older plants at this time promotes good flowering. Peonies are divided and replanted in the fall, so you might need to follow special fertilization requirements at that time. For example, you might want to amend the soil with well-rotted compost to increase its nutrient content or sprinkle some bone meal around the newly divided and replanted peonies to promote strong root growth.