Peonies in bloom have large, showy flowers that are a gorgeous addition to any garden. Learn how to care for peonies after they bloom so you can enjoy healthy peony plants for decades to come.
You read that right- decades!
Peonies are a generational shrub that you can grow for decades and decades if you focus on good peony care.
I have a simple guide for growing peonies to help you keep your plants in tip top shape!
These plants have even been passed down through generations and transplanted, in some cases.
This makes them such a special flower and is a great reason to have them in your flower garden.
When do peonies start to bloom?
Peonies will usually start to bloom in the third year after planting, but it can take up to 5 years to see blooms on your peony plant. They are well worth the wait, however, since peonies can live and bloom for decades with the right care.
You’ll start to see peony buds in early spring. The buds will open into full blooms that last about 7-10 days.
The exact timing of bloom depends on the variety of peony plants and the weather conditions during early spring.
Best Peonies for Beginning Gardeners
Peonies in general are easy to care for, especially once they get established. The best peonies for beginning gardeners will be the ones most suited to that person’s garden.
Herbaceous peonies are probably the best choice, since they’re the most low maintenance. They are quite hardy and will grow throughout USDA hardiness zones 2-8 and need 5-6 hours of full sun every day.
Tree peonies are best for more shaded gardens and don’t tolerate being moved as well as other types. They will grow in USDA hardiness zones 4-9 and have the largest blooms.
Itoh peonies are suited to USDA hardiness zones 4-9 as well. They are named after Toichi Itoh, who was the first to successfully hybridize tree and herbaceous peonies. They need 5-6 hours of full sun per day.
When is the best time to plant peonies?
Early fall is the best time to plant peonies of any kinds. You can also plant container peonies in the Spring.
Peony roots should be planted in cool weather, when the soil is moist. This will help the roots to establish themselves before the first frost of winter.
How to Know if Your Peony is Done Blooming
As fall approaches, you’ll start to see fewer buds forming on your peony plant until they stop altogether.
The leaves may also start to turn yellow as the peony as the plant prepares to go dormant for the winter.
How Supporting Peonies During Blooming Season
When peonies are in bloom, they may need some support to keep their large flowers from drooping. Tree peonies and Itoh peonies typically do not need support, but herbaceous peonies will benefit from being staked.
The best time to stake a plant is when the flower buds first begin to swell in early spring. To stake a peony plant, you simply insert a stake into the ground right next to it and tie the plant to the stake with some twine or other soft material.
Take care not to tie the plant too tightly, as this can damage the stem. You may need to adjust the ties as the plant grows during the season.
How Can I Get More Peony Blooms?
To get more blooms from your peony plants, it is important to remove the dead flowers as they start to fade. Deadheading allows the plant to use precious energy to produce more flowers.
You should also cut them back each year to encourage healthy new growth.
When is the Best Time to Cut Peonies Back?
The best time to cut back herbaceous peonies is in the fall. Wait until after the plant has finished blooming and producing new growth. After the first frost, the plant will begin to yellow, which is a great way to tell if it’s time to cut the peonies back.
Cut the plant back so it’s only 6 inches above the ground. With less foliage, the plant and focus its energy on developing strong roots for the winter.
Itoh peonies and tree peonies can also be trimmed back in early spring, very early in the season.
Deadheading Peonies vs. Cutting Peonies Back
Deadheading is simply the practice of removing dead or declining flowers from a plant. This should be done throughout the blooming season to keep the plant healthy and encourage the plant to produce more flowers.
Cutting the plant back, on the other hand, only needs to be done once per year.
Steps for Cutting Back Peonies
1. Cut back the plant to about 6 inches above the ground.
2. Remove any dead or diseased leaves or stems.
3. Dispose of the cuttings in a compost bin or trash can.
4. Water the plant well to help it recover from being trimmed back.
How to Divide Peonies
You can divide your peonies to establish new plants or if the plant becomes too large for its space. Peonies can be divided in early spring or fall. The best time to divide peonies is during fall after the plant has finished blooming.
1. Cut back the foliage of the plant so that it’s only 6 inches above the ground.
2. Use a garden shovel to dig up the entire plant. Be careful not to damage the roots.
3. Gently remove the plant from the soil and gently shake off the excess dirt.
4. Use a sharp knife or shears to divide the plant into smaller sections. Make sure each section has at least 3-5 roots.
5. Plant the divided sections in new pots or directly into the ground.
6. Water the plants well to help them recover from being divided.
When to Fertilize Peonies for the Next Growing Season
Fertilizing peonies is an important part of their care. Peonies should be fertilized twice per year.
Apply the first round of fertilizer to the soil surface when new shoots are about 3 inches high. Apply the second round of fertilizer in late spring as the plant begins to produce buds.
When to Cut Peonies for a Vase
The best time to cut peonies for a vase is early in the morning when the flowers are just beginning to open. Cut the stems at an angle using sharp shears or a knife.
1. Cut the stems of the peonies at an angle, about 6 inches from the ground.
2. Be sure to remove lower leaves from the stem. You don’t want to leave any that will fall below the water line in the vase. These leaves can rot and cause bacteria to grow in the water.
3. Place the stems in a vase filled with fresh water.
4. Change the water every day to keep the flowers fresh.
How to Make Peonies Last in a Vase
To make peonies last longer in a vase, you can use a few simple tricks. First, cut the stems at an angle and place them in a vase filled with fresh water.
Change the water every few days to keep the flowers fresh. You can also add a bit of sugar to the water, as this will help the flowers to last longer.
Finally, keep the vase out of direct sunlight. By following these simple tips, you can enjoy your peony flowers for a bit longer.
Will peony buds open after cutting?
Peony buds will open a few days after cutting, so you can cut them in advance and still enjoy fresh flowers. They should open within 3-6 days if you’re starting with tightly compact buds.
Preventing and Treating Peony Diseases
Powdery mildew is the most common disease that affects peonies. This fungal disease can cause the leaves of your plant to turn yellow and fall off. It can also affect the stems and buds of your peonies.
To prevent powdery mildew, make sure to plant your peonies in an area that receives full sun and has good drainage. If your plant does become infected with powdery mildew, you can treat it with a fungicide.
What happens if my tree peonies don’t bloom?
There are a few reasons why tree peonies may not bloom. One reason is that the plant is too young. Tree peonies typically don’t bloom until they are 3-5 years old.
Another reason is that the plant may not be getting enough sunlight. Tree peonies need full sun to thrive and produce flowers. If your tree peony is not blooming, check to see if it is getting at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. If it is not, you may need to move it to a sunnier location.
Finally, the plant may be stressed from being too dry or too wet. Tree peonies need well-drained soil and should be watered on a regular basis. If you think your tree peony is stressed, try to improve the growing conditions and see if that helps the plant to bloom.
Peonies are a beautiful addition to any garden. With the right care, you can enjoy plenty of gorgeous blooms throughout the season.