Peony, the dazzling star of Spring

Two pink peony flowers in a garden

Peony is a beautiful flower, but it tends to be choosy, and the blooming depends heavily on how it is cared for.

Basic Peony facts

Name – Paeonia
Family – Paeoniaceae
Type – perennial

Height – 1 ½ to 6 ½ feet (50 to 200 cm)
Exposure – full sun, part sun
Soil – rather rich and moist

Foliage – deciduous
Flowering – May to July

From spring to winter and from planting to the removing of wilted flowers, here is all the advice needed to grow them.

Planting peony

It is recommended to plant your peonies in fall spacing them 30 to 40 inches (80 to 100 cm) apart.

  • Planting in the fall lets you savor their bloom in the subsequent spring.

If you have purchased your peonies in containers, you can wait until spring to plant them, once freezing is over and before the heat sets in. Provide for regular watering over the first year.

To enhance flower-bearing, add organic soil conditioner such as manure and seaweed.

  • Choose a well-lit area that isn’t too hot. Part shade is fine, too.
  • Peonies like well drained soil and usually tolerate ordinary soil.
  • Follow our guidance on planting peonies.

Propagating peony

Peony propagation is best done through root division in fall or at the beginning of spring.

  • This is recommended every 3 to 5 years to give your plant renewed vigor.

Staked peony flowers will resist wind.

Pruning and caring for peony

Pruning peonies, in their herbaceous or their tree form is not a necessity, but experts share that it boosts flower-bearing dramatically!

To stimulate budding of new flowers, remove wilted flowers regularly (deadheading).

  • You may need to stake the peony if it gets windy in your area.

Pruning tree peony

Prune delicately in fall or at the end of winter, removing any dead wood and the more fragile branches.

Pruning herbaceous peonies

Herbaceous peonies die away naturally when the cold spells start, and reappear in the following spring.

Do not remove leaves before they have died off, because peonies need them to stock up on nutrients for the next season’s blooming period.

  • At the end of fall or the beginning of winter, you can remove the wilted leaves.
  • Add dried leaves on top of the flower bed to mulch and protect the roots from freezing. This will also serve as fertilizer as it decomposes.

Expert video on growing peony

Here is a video showing advice prepared for you by Nicole Pardo, peony producer and expert in the field:

Diseases and parasites that attack peony

Verticillium wilt – peonies wilt and die.

Thrips (tiny winged insects) and nematodes (worms) are aggressive pests.

Several peony cultivars

‘Alba Plena’ – white, double flowers.

‘Rosea Plena’ – pink, double flowers.

‘Crimson Globe’ – red flowers.

‘James Crawford Weguelin’ – large, carmine red flowers.

All there is to know about peony

Frazzled pink peony flower, close-upThis perennial is herbaceous or shrubby, and its blooming period is generous and lasts for all of spring.

  • Tree peony has the disadvantage of growing more slowly than herbaceous peonies.
  • Herbaceous peony dies off completely in winter, and grows back in spring. Tree peonies keep their branches over the winter. They don’t grow much higher than than 6 ½ feet (2 meters) tall.

Their flowers may be fragrant, and stand out forming an absolutely ravishing solitary round ball.

Peonies are most commonly planted in perennial flower and shrub beds, along hedges or in secluded parts of the garden.

You can cut a peony flower and put it in a vase, it will hold for a very long time!

  • Provide it with a lot of water, though. A couple flowers can go through a bottle of water in one day!

Smart tip about peony

Peonies are rather fragile. If they are to be moved at all, handle them with utmost care.

Peony on social media

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Picture related to Peony overlaid with the Facebook logo.

Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Pink peony (also on social media) by Amanda Mabry ★ under Pixabay license
Peony bed, staked by Elena under Pixabay license
Peony close-up by marleussia under Pixabay license