If you are thinking of growing herbaceous peonies or have already purchased one or more, our peony care instructions will help you to get the most from them.
Herbaceous peonies provide invaluable colour to borders and cut flower material in late spring and early summer. Their large, often double flowers in whites, pinks and reds add an element of romance and glamour to any garden.
They provide great pleasure for the relatively little effort it takes to grow them. So lets start on our peony care guide to getting the most from peonies.
Where to Plant
Herbaceous Peonies require an open, full sun position with direct sun for most of the day. They will tolerate less sun but they will not perform at their best. Peonies prefer a fertile, humus-rich, ph neutral soil that is well draining to prevent water logging during winter months.
They will benefit from provision of wind protection, as this prevents damage to the long flower stems. Finally, choose the location carefully as Peonies do not like disturbance and when left alone they grow bigger and stronger each year.
How to Plant
Peonies should be spaced approximately three to four feet apart in order to allow good air circulation.
- Dig a hole about two feet deep and two feet across, if the soil is heavy or very sandy enrich it with a multi-purpose compost.
- Add a handful of bone meal and work this into the soil, and firm the soil.
- Place the Peony root so that the eyes face upward on top of the firmed soil, with the eyes no more than two inches below the soil surface.
- Carefully backfill the hole, ensuring that the soil doesn’t settle and bury the eyes deeper than 2 inches.
- Water thoroughly.
Peonies usually need a few years to fully establish themselves, before blooming to their best. If left undisturbed, they will grow bigger and bloom better each year. For this reason, they do not need to be dug up and divided.
Things to remember
- Do not over fertilise your peonies, they generally thrive when left to do their own thing.
- If you do have poor soil, add a little bone meal or a thin layer of compost around the plant in summer, and after the flowers have faded and been removed. Do not allow a build-up compost which buries the eyes deeper than two inches.
- Do provide support for the flower stems as they can become very top heavy with the large blooms. Use flower rings to allow the peony to grow up through them.
- Deadhead peony flowers as soon as they begin to fade, cutting to a strong leaf so that the stem doesn’t stick out of the foliage.
- Cut the foliage to the ground during autumn to avoid any overwintering disease.
- Where cold temperatures are severe, you can add a layer of protective mulch in late autumn but this must be removed in spring.
- Do not divide you plants unless there is a need to do so.
Pests and Diseases
Peonies are generally very hardy but can be susceptible to Verticillium wilt, ringspot virus, tip blight, stem rot, Botrytis blight and leaf blotch.
To prevent these, maintain the ph neutral balance where possible, ensure sufficient air circulation and sun exposure. Additionally, remove old foliage in mid to late autumn to prevent disease over wintering.
Some good news, peonies are deer and rabbit resistant so highly recommended where these animals are considered a pest.
Peonies make wonderful cut flowers which last for more than a week. For best results, cut long stems when the buds are still fairly tight and allow them to open in the vase.