Peony Care

Peony Planting and Care Tips for Zones 6, 7, and Coastal 8

Peonies love….

well-drained sites.
sun! 8 hours is great. Hotter zone 7 areas and coastal zone 8 do best with early-mid blooming varieties and intersectionals.
fresh air. Crowding of plants can cause disease.

Peonies don’t like…

soggy soil. Peonies need their soil to dry out between watering to prevent crown rot. Let God’s rain do the work for you. Also consider the watering needs of neighboring plants and sprinkler head locations before you plant.
leftovers. Soil, that is. Don’t plant a peony where a peony was before.
to be planted too deep or too shallow. See planting instructions below.


Planting your peony in its new home

You will need: a shovel, composted cow manure (one shovelful per root), Milorganite (one cup per root), water, and muscle!

Dig a hole 2’-3’ wide by 18” deep. Place the root in the hole. Lay the handle of your shovel across the hole. Add or remove soil so the eyes of the root are 1”-1 ½” below the handle. Intersectional peonies are tagged with a rubber band. This rubber band should be even with the bottom of the handle and can be left on the stem. Remove the root and dig another 6”-8”. Toss the manure and Milorganite in the hole and put the 6”-8” of soil back in. Add water and stomp on the dirt to create a firm base. Place the root, eyes pointing up, in the hole and fill in with dirt. Mound the soil to provide drainage. Water and check the depth again. Install a peony hoop to protect your growth next spring.  You’re done!


Preparing your new peony for the winter

If your area has received below normal rainfall, gently pour ½ gallon of water around the plant site once per week until mid-November. This only needs to be done the first fall.

Yeah, winter is over! Now what?

Spring Has Arrived!

Add or delete dirt so the eyes are 1”-1 ½” below the soil. The rubber band on intersectionals should be at soil level.

Remember that peonies don’t like soggy soil. But, if your summer is very dry, slowly pour 1 gallon of water around the plant site once each week.  Be cautious of watering too much! Do not water past early September to encourage dormancy of the root. 


Share the Beauty

In the third summer, you can cut as many as one-third of the blooms on your plant. At five years, you may cut as many as two-thirds of the blooms. Never cut all the flowers off your plant.

Stems placed in warm water mixed with floral preservative can last up to a week. Intersectional peony blooms are especially beautiful cut very short and floated in a shallow dish or fish bowl vase.

Optional: You can pinch off all marble-size buds before the plant blooms its first spring.  This will strengthen the root system and produce more blooms the second and third year.


Autumn Routine

When the foliage turns brown, cut the stems off to 2” above the ground. Burn the foliage or discard it in a non-recycling compost center. Peony foliage and soil can harbor disease, so you never want to reuse either.