Peony plants are a popular perennial flowers, with huge blooms that attract attention in early to late spring. Peonies come in two main types: herbaceous peonies and tree peonies. Both types of peonies need a little extra care when it comes to fertilizer, so it’s a good idea to know what the best way to feed them.
How to Care for Peonies
Peonies are relatively easy to care for, but a little extra attention helps them thrive and produce more beautiful blooms. A few of the key care tips for peonies are:
- Plant in well-drained soil in a sunny spot with good air circulation.
- Add a layer of mulch in late fall to protect the roots over winter.
- Cut back dead stems in late fall or early spring to prevent powdery mildew and other problems.
- Fertilize peonies twice a year with a low nitrogen fertilizers.
- Water peonies regularly during the growing season, especially if the weather is dry. If you are in warmer climates or your plants are in full sun, you may need to water your plants more than dry or cold climates.
What kind of fertilizer do peonies need?
Peonies need a perennial fertilizer that is low in nitrogen. Nitrogen encourages leaf growth, but too much of it can result in fewer flowers.
Finding a slow-release fertilizer will help to nurture your plant over time. Put your fertilizer at the base of the plant.
Peonies need a fertilizer that will encourage flower buds to form. A good option is a fertilizer with a 5-10-10 or 10-20-20 ratio of nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium.
How do I get more blooms on my peonies?
To get more blooms on your peonies, make sure to fertilize peonies in early spring before the growing season begins. This is the best time to feed your plant so it can be ready to produce peony flowers.
Fertilize again in late spring, after the flowers have bloomed.
Peonies are also susceptible to fungal diseases, so make sure to choose a fertilizer that will help prevent these diseases.
Also, deadhead spent flowers and remove any seed pods that form. This encourages the plant to put its energy into producing more flowers, rather than seeds.
Your plant most likely won’t put on flowers the first year it is in the ground, but as the peony roots get established it will begin to produce more and more flowers with each coming year.
Are coffee grounds good for peonies?
Coffee grounds are a good source of nitrogen, so they can be used as a fertilizer for many plants. Many gardeners love to use coffee grounds because they are a natural and eco-friendly way to fertilize plants.
However, coffee grounds should not be used on peonies. Peonies need low nitrogen fertilizer, and coffee grounds are high in nitrogen. Too much nitrogen can cause peonies to grow fewer flowers and more leaves.
DIY fertilizer for peonies
To make your own fertilizer for peonies, mix together 1 part manure, 1 part compost, and 1 part bone meal. This homemade fertilizer will provide the nutrients that peonies need to thrive.
- Manure adds nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to the soil.
- Compost provides organic matter that helps improve drainage and aeration in the soil.
- Bone meal is a great source of phosphorus, which is essential for flower bud formation.
Best Fertilizer for Peonies
There are a number of fertilizers on the market that are perfect for feeding peonies. Peony fertilizer should be low in nitrogen and high in phosphorus and potassium.
Use a fertilizer with a 5-10-10 ratio of nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium for best results. These numbers mean that the fertilizer would have 5% nitrogen, 10% phosphorus, and 10% potassium.
The most important thing to make sure of is that you don’t use a fertilizer with too much nitrogen. Peonies do not need a lot of nitrogen, and too much can actually result in fewer blooms. Stick to low nitrogen fertilizer, and your peonies will thank you with plenty of beautiful blooms.
A few brands of fertilizer you can buy that fit the bill are:
- Lilly Miller Fertilizer 5-10-10 -This fertilizer has a lot of natural ingredients that peonies thrive on, including bone meal, pet manure, and poultry waste. It has a very strong smell, so it’s only suitable for outdoor use. It’s marketed more as a vegetable fertilizer, but the NPK ratio makes it an excellent choice for peonies.
- Jack’s Classic Blossom Booster – While this fertilizer has a 10-30-20 NPK ratio that’s a bit outside of what’s recommended for peonies, it’s still a great choice due to the low nitrogen content. The higher amount of phosphorus sends peonies bloom-growing into overdrive. It’s a great choice for a lot of different flowers, so you can get plenty of use out of it.
- Miracle-Gro Bloom Booster Flowerfood -A versatile option, this fertilizer is very easy to use. You just mix it with water and give your plants a drink. It’s great for all kinds of flowers, including peonies. It has a 15-30-15 ratio, which is a bit high in nitrogen so it’s one to use sparingly for peonies. That said, its versatility and low cost make it an excellent option for many gardeners.
- Espoma Organic Flower-Tone- This is the best organic fertilizer that gives your plant the essential nutrients it needs to put out new shoots and produce new growth. It uses organic materials that feed the plant so it will give you beautiful flowers. It is a good bulb fertilizer that you can mix into the planting hole when you are planting your new bulbs.
Fertilizer vs. Plant Food for Peonies
Plant food is a term used on many commercial fertilizers, but it’s a bit of a misnomer. Plants make their own food through a process called photosynthesis.
So, technically, flowers don’t need flower food. They do, however, need certain nutrients to grow and thrive. That’s where fertilizer comes in.
Products labeled “plant food” are usually just fertilizer that is specifically formulated for a certain type of plant. You can safely use them on your peonies as long as they meet the requirements of any other fertilizer: that they’re low in nitrogen and high in phosphorus and potassium.
When should I fertilize peonies?
Peonies should be fertilized in early spring and late spring.
Apply the fertilizer to the soil around the plant in early spring, before the growing season begins. Fertilize again in late spring, after the flowers have bloomed.
How to Apply Fertilizer to Peonies
To apply fertilizer, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the package. If you’re using DIY fertilizer or you no longer have the package, the following instructions are a good guide.
1. Add the fertilizer to water in a bucket or watering can and mix well.
2. Water your new plants with the fertilizer “tea” in order to help it reach the roots of the plant.
3. Do not apply fertilizer directly to the leaves of the plant, as this can burn them.
4. Peonies should be fertilized in early spring and late spring – just before the growing season begins, and after the flowers have bloomed.
5. By following these simple instructions, you can enjoy beautiful peonies in your garden for many years to come!
Over the years, keep careful notes about fertilizer treatments and how your peonies are doing. That way, you can adjust your fertilizer regimen as needed to keep your plants healthy and blooming beautifully.
Peonies are one of the most popular flowers worldwide, and it’s no wonder why. By taking care to use the best fertilization practices for peonies, you can keep them beautiful and thriving for many, many years.