How to Grow and Care for Peonies - Backyard Boss
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How to Grow and Care for Peonies

Paeonia, most commonly known as peonies, is one of the favored flowers grown by gardeners across the globe!

This joyful perennial is a garden show-stopper and is relied upon, year after year, to produce bountiful flowers that brighten up any yard. Once bloomed, these big flowers are sought after by friends, family, decorators, and even wedding planners!

Have you been considering planting a peony in your garden? They are an easy plant that requires little maintenance once put into the ground. Take a look at the following guide on how to grow and care for peonies that will bring bundles of color to your life yearly.

How to Grow and Care for Peonies

Picking a Peony

large pink peonies that have bloomed
Image credits: 1195798 via Pixabay

What many love about peonies is they are available in a wide range of vibrant colors. They come in pink, red, white, orange, yellow, and purple, as well as numerous shades of each. To pick a peony, decide what color best matches your garden or meets your preferences.

Unsure of where to get a peony plant? Find a new peony bush at your local garden center, or look for friends, family, or neighbors who may have a thriving peony plant in their garden. Ask nicely, and they may allow you to propagate it for your garden! Keep in mind that propagated peony plants should contain at least three to five buds. The propagated section should also include as much of the root system as possible to encourage growth in their new location.

Peony Growing Conditions

blush pink peony plant with dozens of blooming flowers
Image credits: Daiga Ellaby via Unsplash

Now that you have the peony of your preference, find the perfect spot to place it! Peonies are a full sun plant but are hardy, so, they will be happy in partial shade too. Seek out a location that gives your peony plant enough light throughout the day, as well as ample room to spread out as they grow. The leaves and stalks of peonies get large over time, so do not plant them too close to any of your existing trees, shrubs, or flowers. Allow three to four feet of space between other plants for ultimate growth.

The last thing to consider is what the soil condition are like in your selected garden spot. Peonies grow best in soil that has good drainage and fertility. If the spot you are considering gets overly damp in wet weather conditions, find another location for your peony so it has the best chance at life!

Plant Your New Peony Close to the Surface

garden spade digging in garden dirt
Image credits: walkersalmanac via Pixabay

When looking at new peony plants, you may notice short stems are often sticking out of the dirt. Because these stems look unsubstantial and appear dead, many gardeners new to growing peonies will cover them with dirt or bury them deep in the ground.

In actuality, these stems poking through are the peony tubers (underground stems) and are a critical part of a healthy peony. To grow and thrive, the tubers need to be planted close to the surface due to the plant’s shallow root system.

When placing your new peony into the ground, do not plant it too deeply. Let those stem-like tubers stay exposed to the air. Doing this will help your peonies flourish into a plant that will be the envy of your neighbors.

Use Stakes or Peony Rings

deep pink peonies growing within the limits of a peony ring
Image credits: Kostiantyn Vierkieiev via Unsplash

One of the most common mistakes in caring for peonies is letting them grow without support. As your peony plant develops, the weight of the leaves, stems, and the size of the flower can weigh down the plant. That is why peonies require assistance to stay upright.

Use stakes or peony rings to support the tall stems of the plant. Without assistance, peonies fall over, covering other plants in your garden or breaking the plant’s stems in half. Place stakes or a peony ring in the ground around the plant to encourage them to grow upwards. Gradually guide straying leaves back into the ring as they spread, or use twine and stakes to help the peony grow upwards rather than outwards.

Let the Ants Be!

three ants crawling over a dew covered peony bud
Image credits: Alexas_Fotos via Pixabay

As your peony begins to bud, you will notice an abundance of ants being drawn to the plant and crawling around on the buds. This is a great thing!

Normally, ants are considered a pest and are harmful to the garden, but not to peonies! Ants and peonies have a mutualistic symbiotic relationship. As the ants receive food from the peony nectar, the peonies benefit from the removal of aphids and other pests by the ants. A win-win!

So, if you are contemplating putting out ant poison to kill these newcomers, don’t! These helpful insects are doing your peonies plenty of good!

Maintaining Your Peonies

large white peony that has bloomed entirely
Image credits: Kostiantyn Vierkieiev via Unsplash

To maintain your peonies throughout the growing season, simply water regularly, remove weeds, and guide your peony plant upwards. Over time, you will be rewarded with bursting flowers that thrive on their own. Once the peonies bloom, you can trim them to showcase on your table or even give them to friends.

In the fall and winter months, your peony plant will begin to die. The leaves shrivel and fall to the ground, and the flower petals will blow away in the wind. When the growing season is over, cut back your peonies by removing the dead flowers, leaves, and stems. Cut the stems down to about an inch or so above the ground.

If you are worried about snowfall or freezing temperatures hurting your peonies, you can relax! Peonies thrive in the following season if they are exposed to the cold. If you live in a place with cold winter climates, your peonies will likely be even happier!

Enjoy The Beautiful Blooms

When it comes to caring for peonies, there are so many simple things you can do to help your plant thrive. The first steps are to select your new peony plant (either propagated or newly bought) and find a spot in your yard where it will get plenty of sunlight throughout the day. When you plant your peony, ensure the stem-like tubers are sticking out of the ground and your peony is not planted too deep. The shallow root system requires sunlight and water near the surface!

Next, to support your heavy peonies, use peony rings or stakes to guide them upwards and prevent them from snapping. All that is left is to sit back, let the ants do their job, and watch the enormous flowers open up! Enjoy them during the growing season and cut back your peony bush for the winter, so it makes another stunning appearance next summer.

Ready to start growing some beautiful peonies in your yard? Use the following guide on how to grow and care for your peonies and enjoy the brightness it brings to your garden!