FAQ Peony Care


Growing Peonies

We've done our best to provide some useful information on peony care below. Check out these topics to make a fine start as peony nurser!

For answers on frequently asked questions, look here.

1. Planting and general cargo

Peonies are very easy-care and will thrive with a little loving care such as the selection of a good spot, removing weeds from between the stalks on a regular basis and an occasional feed.

Planting, transplanting and dividing peonies are best done in early fall, but may be done in spring as soon as the soil can be worked. Select a site where they can enjoy plenty of light although they will not mind a little shade. Too much shade and the number as well as size of blossoms is reduced. Peonies will also become leggy in appearance. Do not plant peonies near large trees, where they must compete for water and nourishment.  

Peonies thrive in sunny locations and well-drained soils, tolerating a wide range of soil varieties. Best growth is in soil with a pH range of 6.5 to 7.5, deep and rich in organic matter.  

Each plant requires an area about three feet in diameter. Remove soil from the hole and mix liberally with well-composted manure or rich compost. A couple of handfuls of bone meal (a slow release fertilizer) in the bottom will help as it breaks down over time. Replace the mixed soil into the hole until a slight dome forms above natural soil level. Never plant the eyes of the peony roots deeper than 2.5 Ė 5 cm (1-1/2 to 2" )deep as they will not flower as a result. Soil settles with time, so the dome will end up level with the soil in a year or two.   

Peonies may be left undisturbed for many years. Indeed, peonies hate to have their roots disturbed and may refuse to flower for a year afterward. Heavy flowers will need support to prevent the stems braking with the weight of the flowers.  

Failure to bloom may be the result of any of these factors:

  • Planting too deeply.

  • Immature plants.

  • Inadequate sunlight.

  • Overcrowding.

  • Phosphorus and/or potassium deficiency.

  • Insect or disease problems.

  • Competition from roots of nearby plans.

  • Late freezes.

A decline in flower production usually indicates overcrowding and the need for division. Carefully lift the clump and wash away the soil to expose the eyes. Using a clean, sharp tool, divide the clump into sections, each with three to five eyes and good roots. Replant immediately.  

In the autumn, remove talks and leaves thoroughly in order to keep the plant free from fungi. For this reason, do not throw the stalks and leaves on the compost heap.

2. Taking care of cutflowers

For some peonies a smaller secondary flower will grow next to its primary one. Sometimes these secondary flowers are removed to ensure that the primary flower will receive all of the plantís attention and will grow even larger.

A peony with a smaller secondary flower which can be removed.

We cut flowers daily in our nursery. The number of flowers cut will depend on the variety of peony and weather. Occasionally on very hot days some varieties will flower so profusely that we will cut flowers in the morning, afternoon and again in the evening.

Always leave two stalks on each plant when cutting flowers. These remaining stalks will replenish the plantís energy reserves to flower again the year after.

3. Pests and other problems ...  

Peonies have few pests or problems. The most frequently occurring pests are the fungal diseases; botrytis blight and leaf blotch. Occurring especially during wet springs, botrytis affects leaves, stems and flowers. Spots appear on leaves, stems soften and decay, whilst flowers either rot or buds blacken and fail to open. Immediate removal of infected material and a thorough autumn clean-up are essential for control. 

The effects of botrytis on peonies

Leaf blotch develops during warm, moist weather. Dark purple spots form on the upper surfaces of leaves. Again, removal of infected leaves and thorough autumn clean-up are necessary for control. Do not water on the leaves. 

The soil-borne fungi diseases Phytophthora blight and Verticillium wilt cannot be cured. Unfortunately, infected plants will have to be destroyed. Do not replant in diseased soil.  

The only insect pests of any consequence on peonies are scales. Scales are seen on stalks and leaf bases in late summer and over-winter on the below-ground portion of stalks. For pest control, please check with your local garden center. The presence of ants on peony blossoms is neither beneficial nor harmful to the plants--they are simply attracted to the sugary liquid secreted by flower buds.






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