Growing Peonies

11 May

The most lovely peony, and the object of much affection

I am SO excited about our planting plans; I really can’t even put into words how awesome this is for me! Of course, I started upon this plan without a huge amount of knowledge… Unfortunately, this is typical for me.

Oh No! 😦 Dead plants=bad news…

The good news is that I really like to learn!

Yesterday, in chatting about my garden plans, one of my lovely friends and dear readers asked an innocent question: Is growing peonies difficult? (I’m paraphrasing.) To which I had no response! Agh! I don’t want a garden of dead plants!

I need to know more about planting and growing and maintaining peonies, which are indeed some of my favorites!

So… to research I shall go.

The best news is that when I searched the ever-handy google for “how to grow peonies,” all of the results I got stated in no uncertain terms “peonies can live and thrive for decades with minimal care.” Yay! No dead plants for me! In other good news, they are also quite drought tolerant. Double yay! Here in Georgia, we just about don’t know summer without a drought.

It seems that there are a few general guidelines, however:

1. Personal space! Peonies don’t like being too close together, requiring a 3-4′ diameter. Otherwise, they can get gray mold (boo!).

2. Peonies are a little on the tart side… They like a slightly acidic soil. Score another one for my front yard, with my husband’s beloved pine tree covering the entire area with pine straw!

They also much prefer a very well-drained soil, although like roses, they are heavy feeders and need a rather fertile soil. When mulching, take care not to much much on the crown, as they also don’t like being over-buried (unless its a tree peony, the highest crown about 2 inches below ground). Nursery container peonies may be planted in spring, although from root, a fall planting is best.

3. Peonies tend towards the tan-aholic side, preferring a fair amount of sun each day (6 hours+). They are, however, a little bit wary of too much heat, in which case some shade can be helpful.

4. These little guys need time to grow up before they are, em, deflowered. Its best to wait a few years before cutting them for arrangements, and even then, I’ll need to be mindful to leave appropriate foliage to ensure that the plan can get the nutrition it needs. Never cut below 50% of the flowers. I also read a 3 leaf rule – to leave 3 leaves on any given stem.

5. At the end of the growing season, its good to cut the stems back to about an inch or so above the soil level and remove the foliage from the growing area. This is also a rot-preventer.

Now, armed with just enough knowledge to make me dangerous, I’m about to call the landscape man about getting my plants ordered and such. Anything else I should know as I get started with peonies?


3 Responses to “Growing Peonies”

  1. arbitraryambrosia May 13, 2012 at 1:17 am #

    Glad to know that I played a role in you obtaining alllll of this knowledge and even happier that ““peonies can live and thrive for decades with minimal care.” Maybe I will just have to invest in some of these lovelies myself!

    • jimmyandjulia May 21, 2012 at 2:56 am #

      I kept reading “these flowering shrubs will live to a 100, thriving in spite of (or is it because of) neglect.” I can’t believe that such a lush and romantic flower is so hardy, but I think that they sound fairly indestructible. You can do it!


  1. Gratitude 127: Peonies growing in our yard! « Perpetual Gratitude: A Photographic Diary - May 18, 2012

    […] Growing Peonies ( […]

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