Why My Peonies Are Not Blooming

In Midwest landscapes, peonies are a mainstay. They produce consistently well in the garden and are simple to grow. However, those of us in extension are frequently swamped with calls, emails, etc. when they do not blossom well. Failure to bloom could be caused by a number of factors.

Buds Don’t Appear

The following are some potential reasons for the absence of buds, which is typically the case:

1. Too much shade around the plants. To bloom successfully, peonies require a minimum of 4-6 hours of direct sunlight.

2. Recently transplanted or divided. If transplanted or divided in the late summer, peonies rarely, if ever, bloom well the following spring. Sometimes it takes plants 2 to 3 years to reestablish themselves sufficiently in their new location to blossom successfully.

3. inserted roots too deeply. Peony buds should be positioned during planting 1 to 2 inches below the soil’s surface. Nobody can explain how they can tell if something is 2 inches or 4 inches, but they can! A peony may have lovely foliage but few (if any) flowers when it is planted too deeply.

4. Excessive fertilization. No matter the location, peonies that receive too much nitrogen rarely flower effectively. Nitrogen favors foliar growth over floral growth.

5. Too big of clumps? According to some sources, huge, aged clumps might not bloom effectively. Nevertheless, I have observed a number of sizable plants in the Midwest that appear to bloom nicely every year. A clump wouldn’t stop blooming until it was several decades old, in my opinion. In order to rejuvenate a clump that is too enormous or perhaps too old, it is simple to divide the plant in the late summer.

Plants are too young, point six. If a cluster can be too old, then there is a chance that it can also be too young. Despite the fact that most peony sold nowadays are not normally produced from seeds, some dedicated gardeners do succeed in doing so. When planted from seeds, plants mature and eventually flower in roughly 4 to 5 years.

7. Cutting down of foliage too soon. If the plant’s foliage is removed in July or August, the plant will become weaker and produce fewer flowers.

Buds Appear, But Don’t Open

Other potential reasons of buds that emerge but do not open include:

1. An abrupt freeze. The flower buds may be harmed or destroyed by a strong freeze in May (like the one we experienced last year). Fortunately, it doesn’t occur frequently.

2. Additional severe weather situations. Very dry summer weather may damage plants and cause them to produce fewer blossoms the next season.

3. Fungal ailments Rarely, especially in cool and wet conditions, the flower buds are attacked by botrytis blight or other fungi. The best prevention methods are removing the damaged leaves at the conclusion of the growing season and the dead buds in late spring.

4. Pest insects. On rare circumstances, flower buds may be harmed and distorted by thrips or other insect pests, which would reduce flowering. Since the harm is frequently done early in the season, insecticides are typically ineffective.

5. Underweight. In most Iowan soils, this is another another rarity. Poorly growing (weak, spindly, yellowish, or “off-color”) plants lack the strength necessary to bloom (but may set buds). It would be advantageous to transplant into a more advantageous area and apply mild fertilizer after establishment.

I’m done now. The most frequent causes of peony not blooming are cultural (planting in too much shade and planting too deeply). Always keep in mind that peonies are resilient and frequently endure for many years in “not so perfect” settings. However, beware if they don’t bloom one year—everyone will notice!

What are peony fed to encourage blooming?

Over the course of its lifetime, a peony needs nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus. Every year, you must make sure the right levels are present for your plants to grow properly and produce vibrant blooms. Incorporate a low-nitrogen fertilizer, such as a 5-10-10 combination, into the soil surrounding the peony stem. This should also assist maintain stable phosphorus levels; nevertheless, you should periodically test your soil to make sure you’re feeding your peony properly. Sometimes adding bone meal or phosphate fertilizer helps the plant develop strong roots and set flowers.

Why are my peonies blooming so slowly?

Plants have lately been separated or are too young It may take a year or two for newly planted or divided and transplanted peonies to establish themselves before they begin to bloom normally. Be patient and take careful care of the plants.

Can you grow peonies with Miracle Grow?

Miracle-Gro is a well-liked fertilizer among gardeners due to its quick-acting components and capacity to promote the bloom of larger and more vibrant flowers in plants. It gives plants the essential nutrients they require, which the soil loses over the course of a plant’s existence.

Miracle-Gro can also be utilized as a reliable source of fertilizing nutrients for peony. Out of all the Miracle-Gro products, the Shake ‘n Feed Rose & Bloom Plant Food is a great option because it constantly releases nitrogen over the three month interval between feedings.

What is a Bare Root Peony?

A bare root peony division is one that removes the soil from a peony plant that has been dug up and divided in the fall (for propagation reasons).

Will My Peonies Bloom the First Year?

Peonies need 3 to 4 years to establish themselves as a fully mature blooming plant, as opposed to annuals. The first year of growth is dedicated to producing roots and establishing the plant in the garden. First-year flowers could be smaller and lack the normal shape or color of a mature plant. In fact, the first or second year some peony may not even blossom. By the third year, there will be a profusion of blossoms, which will be a fantastic reward for patience. “The First Year They Sleep, The Second Year They Creep, and the Third Year They Leap,” goes the proverb concerning peony.

Why are My Peonies Not Blooming?

More than “They were planted too deep,” there are numerous other reasons why peonies do not blossom. Many questions should be asked before a rational conclusion can be formed as to why a plant has failed to blossom.

Young plants could not have a strong enough root system or enough food reserves to blossom.

Compared to most domestically grown plants, imported roots are substantially smaller. For smaller roots to develop a suitable root system with enough food stores to create a bloom, they may need to grow for a few more years. A good peony root should contain at least three comparable roots measuring four to six inches in length and an inch in thickness, as well as three to five “eyes” (dormant buds) for growth.

Frequently, a peony that was planted at the same time as the rest of the groomed yard is now shaded by much larger trees. To bloom successfully, peonies require a minimum of eight hours of sunlight.

In the spring, when there has been a lot of rain and there is a lot of humidity, a fungus can damage tender new growth with forming flower buds. The disease’s symptoms show on pea-sized immature flower buds; these flower buds fail to develop and appear dark or blackened on the terminals of fresh growth. Plantings in their first and second years are more prone to this illness. The best way to control illness is still to cut back and remove peony foliage in the fall.

At the base of each stem, peonies generate latent buds in August that are referred to as “eyes.” These dormant “eyes” should be placed 1 1/2″ to 2″ below the soil’s surface in order to create a peony bush the following spring. In the fall, carefully scrape the soil around a few stems to measure the depth of the young ‘eyes’ at the base of each stem if you are unsure of the planting depth of an established bush. In our fields, we plant thousands of roots each fall without first gauging planting depth as we drop them into a furrow, thus it is rare for a peony bush to be planted too deeply and be the cause of a dearth of blooms. By developing dormant eyes at the correct depth as they mature, roots often self-correct the depth at which they were planted. Too frequently, hasty counsel is provided, and peonies are pulled out and replanted without understanding that disturbed peonies frequently suffer setbacks and repeatedly delayed blooms. Once planted, peonies perform best when left alone.

Do Peonies Ever Have to be Divided?

One of the longest-living perennials is the peony. If cultivated in rich organic soil with proper drainage and a location with eight or more hours of sunlight per day, peonies frequently live for fifty to one hundred years without ever needing to be divided.

Are All Peonies Fragrant?

Sadly, not all peonies have a strong fragrance. Red blooming cultivars typically have less fragrance than pink and white blossoming ones. All hybrid kinds besides the yellow Itoh (Intersectional) Hybrids lack scent.

Are Ants Needed to Open Blossoms?

There is no truth to the tale that has been passed down through the years. Ants are drawn to the sugar on flower buds in the same way that they are to picnic treats. Our fields have very few ants but an abundance of blossoms every year.

When is the Best Time to Cut Peonies for Arrangements?

early in the morning, before buds enlarge and open. When the flower bud is in the “marshmallow” stage, when it feels soft to the touch, cut the stems. Cut double flowering plants when they are about a quarter open. The bloom’s vase life will be shorter the more fully opened it is.

Why do my Peony Plants Fall Over After a Rain?

After a significant downpour, double flowering types are typically affected by this issue. Large flowers merely trap the rain, become overburdened by it, and collapse. Japanese and single types, along with more compact kinds with thicker stems, stay up better during rain. Peonies cultivated in semi-shade also have weaker, thinner stems than those grown in full sun.

Do Peonies Need to be Mulched for Winter Protection?

To avoid frost from heaving roots out of the soil, we advise mulching first-year plantings as the earth begins to freeze. Once established, the majority of peony are quite resilient and never require mulching, while hybrids can be harmed by a winter with no snow cover. A good winter mulch is advised for hybrids in harsh environments, such as regions where the temperature is frequently below zero degrees Fahrenheit.

Do peony benefit from Epsom salt?

Botrytis control in peony is a long-term struggle. A crucial step to avoid numerous issues is to not take care of botrytis damage after the flowers have been cut. After the flowers have been cut, make sure to spray against Botrytis to stop the infection from spreading. To harden off the plants, mix magnesium (Epsom salt) into the botrytis spray.

The fungus produces winter spores in the fall, which overwinter in the space between the soil and the atmosphere. Additionally, this is where the infestation first appears. Control is therefore necessary in the spring, although the foundation is laid in the late summer. There is little doubt that the increasingly widely employed Collis in the spring is only a portion of the solution.

According to research, pruning plants not too short (+/- 10 cm above the earth) in the fall has a Botrytis-preventive impact and reduces the likelihood that the stems would fall over (suffer from Botrytis damage) the following spring.

Leaf nematodes

The leaves’ distortion makes it simple to detect how the leaf nematodes are deteriorating. The tissue appears distorted, and the leaves are semicircular. Sometimes it can also cause a young shoot’s grow point to become dry.

Dehydration of floral buds is another possibility. Black, rotting flower portions encircled by vibrant petals serve as a clear indication of this. The leaf nematodes are just just starting to leave the dried buds.

Water is necessary for nematode spread within plants. The water that remains on the leaves after watering the plants or during periods of high humidity allows the nematodes to travel to different sections of the plant. Additionally, spreading happens when the plants are being cared for and worked on. Do not stroll or spray amongst the plants, but rather from the walkways between the rows of plants, as spreading happens when the leaves are moist.

Actually, the nematode won’t cause harm until the season following the infection. However, the infection is detectable during the first year. Blue dots stuck between the veins of the leaves will be seen. This will spread to the next area in between the veins after a downpour.


When the leaves are wet with dew at night and the nematodes are at the side of the leaves, spray three times with Vertimec Gold.

Around the middle of August, prune the plants and remove the plant remnants. Do this only in dry conditions.

Weed control

Therefore, it’s critical to eradicate all weeds before the winter. Roundup is highly sensitive on peonies. Never use weed killer on peonies, especially when bluegrass is present. Roundup will be absorbed by the plant’s roots. Therefore, the only person left for a dirty parcel is Basta. Consider including urea. It is helpful to add a small dose of Chlorpropham to Basta when there is a lot of bluegrass.

Leaf spot diseases

More and more issues with peony growth are being brought on by leaf spot illnesses. As shown in the photographs below, distinct types of peony leaf spots are caused by Botrytis and the leaf spots fungus. Both types of fungi thrive in warm, humid weather. Both fungi rely on crop waste to survive.

Leaf spots and botrytis can be easily differentiated from one another.


Botrytis swiftly affects the entire leaf or just one half, leaving behind pale brown patches.

Leaf scuffs:


Spray Daconil, Flint, Ortiva, or Switch as a preventative measure. To avoid resistance, alternate these types of sprays frequently.


Grown crane flies only consume a small amount of nectar. The leatherjacket larvae of the crane fly, on the other hand, are far more ravenous. They consume numerous plants, including peony stems that are barely below the ground, and are comparatively big, soft, and plump.

There are six distinct stages in the life of a crane fly: the egg stage, four larval stages, and the adult stage. Crane flies only have a short lifespan as adults. There are species that only have one generation per year, while other species have multiple generations annually. This implies that plants may sustain damage from larvae at any time of the year.

The leatherjacks spend the day underground. They emerge at night and consume the greenery at the bottom of the plants, including the stem bases. They slightly pull the crop out of the ground as well. A gnawed stem base will cause a stem to wither.

New planting of peonies


Before planting peonies, make sure the crop is free of nematodes from the previous crop.

Visit our fields where peonies are produced for sales and the auction as part of your orientation (long term purchase)

planting period

Regarding the construction and water drainage, soil preparation is crucial.

Consider the likelihood that plastic tunnels will be used in the future (crop spreading/higher yield).

Species depth:

Planting depth: +/- 5 cm of soil above the roots (Planting too deeply will result in fewer flowers). The entire root or structure must be covered.)