How To Grow Peonies In Your Garden – Planting, Propagating and Care
Spring time, walking around a garden in anticipation of new life starting to appear is one of life’s little pleasures. Coming across the tiny furls of new peony growth is an absolute joy.
Peonies are the epitome of mid to late spring planting schemes, their big, blowsy blooms brighten any garden. Their petals are like silk, when I see the first ones open each spring I often wish I could preserve them in a watercolour painting.
There are many varieties and they are very straightforward to grow, needing comparatively little maintenance.
I want to share with you how to grow peonies in your garden, from which ones to choose to tips and help on planting, propagating and caring for them with confidence. These beautiful plants are a must and hopefully this article will encourage you to plant some luscious peonies in your garden.
What is the Difference Between Herbaceous Peony and Tree Peony?
The peony is a group of flowering perennial or shrubby type plants in the genus Paeonia. The first tiny shoots start to push their way up through the soil from about late March to early April in warmer areas, depending on the weather and temperature.
Foliage growth and flowers will continue throughout the spring and into summer.
The buds remain tightly closed for a fairly long time, opening gradually, then, on a warm day they will open fully into glorious blooms, often highly fragrant. Most varieties flower from April onwards into June and July.
Colours can be pinks, reds, crimson, purple and yellow or white. Single and double blooms.
They are, rightly so, one of the most popular flowering plants.
Peonies are low maintenance, hardy and have very few pests or disease. They don’t suffer much damage from slugs, rabbits or deer.
They grow extremely well with other spring and summer flowering plants and can be included in many planting schemes to add colour, height and fragrance. See perennial plants, first year flowering for more ideas for your garden.
If you are looking for other easy low maintenance garden ideas to grow with them check out Easy low maintenance plants.
There are two main types of peony, mostly they are herbaceous perennials which grow to about 3ft tall. Or a woody shrub (Tree Peony) which will reach anything up to 11ft.
Growth appears seasonally in spring from the crown of the plant. They flower from mid spring and throughout early to mid summer. Foliage dies back each year and the plant is dormant during the winter months.
- Bowl of Beauty
- Big Ben
- Duchess of Nemours
Tree Peony develop new growth and flowers each year, they are deciduous so their leaves are shed in Autumn. Stems become woody.
- Duchess of Kent
- Reins Elizabeth
These are a hybrid of the two above types. This new species of peony was developed by Horticulturalist Toichi Itoh in the late 1940’s. A herbaceous peony (Katoden) was fertilised using pollen from a yellow tree peony.
These cultivars are compact herbaceous plants with large blooms from late spring, often continuing through into autumn.
Itoh peonies are perfect in the borders or they can easily be grown in large containers.
Container grown Itoh require an annual feed and fresh compost. Keep them well watered, particularly in spring as the flower buds are forming.
- Magical Mystery Tour
- All That Jazz
- Garden Treasure
- Morning Lilac
Where Do Peonies Grow Best?
All three types of peonies grow best in full sun but they don’t mind some shade during part of the day. They require well-drained soil. If your garden is on acid soil add a small amount of lime (a handful is enough) when planting.
If you want to grow peonies in pots they must be kept well watered during the spring for the buds to develop fully.
How to Plant a Peony
Most peonies will be sold as bare root plants. Plant them as soon as possible when you get them. Prepare a hole about 30cm deep with a mix of general compost and/or well rotted manure. Don’t plant them any deeper as this stops them from flowering. The shoots will form from the leaf buds, these shouldn’t be any more than about 2cm to 5cm below the surface of the soil.
How to Propagate Peonies
Herbaceous and Itoh Peonies
These can be propagated by dividing in autumn after they have finished flowering and are starting to die back
Carefully lift the crown with a garden fork or spade. Remove the soil from the roots so that you can see what you’re doing. Cut it into sections, each section needs 3 or 4 buds and as much root as you can get. It will be quite tough and large, so using a saw or knife is the best way to cut through it. Plant the pieces as soon as you can and water well.
Tree Peony are propagated by layering or by growing from seed.
How to grow plants from seed.
How to Care For Peonies
Peonies pretty much care for themselves. Keep them well watered in spring. Fertiliser is not required unless they are in a container. Herbaceous or Tree Peonies may need staking or other plant supports, the flowers are big and heavy so they become quite top-heavy.
Deadhead after flowering.
In autumn as the foliage is beginning to die back I cut herbaceous peonies down to the crown at ground level.
Tree peonies do not require any pruning. Deadhead after flowering or leave till autumn and then remove the faded seed heads.
Tree Peony and Itoh Peony just need any dead or damaged stems/wood cutting out.
Peonies are great as cut flowers too, their long stems and gorgeous buds and flowers make for a glamorously voluptuous indoor display.
Dobies have a good variety of peonies in stock, herbaceous peonies, tree peonies and Itoh peonies, select some today and start your own peony collection or add to your existing one.
I hope that this article has answered any questions you may have had on how to grow peonies and helped to convince you that peonies are straightforward to grow and care for, giving you confidence to grow some yourselves. For someone just stating a garden they are an ideal choice because they provide a spectacular spring and summer show with very little effort from us.
If you have enjoyed this article please share with friends and family and on social media. You may be interested in my other blogs about how to grow Clematis and roses.
Find them right here, how to grow a Clematis.
You can also find other propagating techniques, along with the types of plants they work with best.
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