Plain and simple, herbaceous peonies are one of the loveliest flowers in existence. You might think they’re near impossible to grow and care for, but they’re not! They actually require far less maintenance than many other flowers and plants.
Better yet – they’re a perennial, which means that when you plant them, they’ll bloom for you for more than just one year. Actually, they’re famous for growing in the same spot for decades!
Peonies come in shades of white, pink, red, and even yellow. They’re closely associated with weddings, brides, and bridal bouquets, which is why they’re often mistaken for being high-maintenance and expensive flower buds.
The good news is that once you learn what they need to thrive, you can grow these beauties in your garden and watch them bloom for many a Spring and Summer to come.
They require a little patience after planting, but once they begin to bloom, they’ll work to beautify your garden with little effort from you.
Like many other flowers, peonies are available in different varieties that have slightly different blooming periods.
This is why it’s always best to visit your local nursery because they’ll be able to tell you which variety grows best in your zone and climate.
For example, some of the popular varieties include the Fairy Princess Peony and Pink Hawaiian Coral Peony. Make sure you choose your favorite variety before planting!
How To Grow and Care For Peonies
Yes, it’s true that peony bareroot tubers should be planted in the Fall before Winter frost has a chance to settle into your soil.
You can purchase flowering peonies in pots at your local nursery, but the results may not be as good as when planted in bare-root form).
*(Peonies require patience as they won’t bloom the first year and won’t produce ideal blooms until about the third year. An easier, quicker option is to buy a mature plant that’s at least a few years old. If you do this, you can plant it in the Spring.)
If you’re planting bare roots in the Fall, make sure they contain healthy roots and have at least 3 healthy eye buds attached to the crown (just ask your local nursery for assistance if you have trouble picking them out).
Or, get your mature, potted peony plant ready for planting.
Peonies are a full-sun perennial, so they’ll need to be planted in an area of your yard that gets several hours of direct sunlight each day. They’ll produce prettier flowers if they get the sunlight they need. If you plant them in an area that gets too much shade, you’ll be doing your peonies a disservice.
Start working your soil in advance and prepare the area so that the roots of your peonies can begin to settle. Peonies need fertile, moist soil, but they also need the soil to be well-drained.
If the area in which you intend to plant your peonies is prone to water puddles, then this is NOT the ideal area for your peonies. Instead, choose a spot in your yard that gets full sun, and is less susceptible to collecting water.
How can you tell if the area is well-drained? Think back to rainy days – did a large puddle form in that vicinity? When you water, does the water travel away from the area after providing the soil with enough moisture or does it concentrate in that same area?
The answers will help determine whether your peonies will get the well-drained soil they need to thrive. Once you decide where the peonies will go, plant each bare- root bulb about 1 – 2 inches deep and 4 feet apart from each other. Always make sure that the buds are facing upwards. Remember, they’ll need plenty of space to stretch out their roots!
TIP: Do not plant your peonies too deeply, or they won’t flower. Rule of thumb: Don’t plant them deeper than two and a half inches.
Before you plant, make sure to work some organic matter into the soil. Then water the area generously to let the soil soak in as much moisture and nutrients as possible.
Though peonies actually enjoy Winter weather, they do need some protection from bitter temperatures. This is where mulch comes in.
You can purchase mulch and then place a generous amount atop the soil where your peony bareroots have been planted.
This will discourage the plant from trying to grow upwards into the frosty weather, which can ruin its chance of creating beautiful foliage.
Once your peonies have lived in the area for more than a year, Winter mulching will become unnecessary.
At the end of a full year, you’ll want to pay extra attention to the pruning needs of your peonies. This will help encourage healthy foliage growth and beautiful blooms in the years to come. Before Winter settles in, cut back your plant all the way to the ground.
Yes – ALL the way. You’ll have regrowth come next Spring.
That about covers everything you need to know about planting and caring for your peonies. If the peony is your favorite flower, there’s no reason to put off growing them your garden.
Why shouldn’t you enjoy these beauties every time you look into your yard during Spring and Summer?
They evoke elegance and grace, so take these few easy-to-implement tips and start growing your dream flower! Just remember to exercise a little patience at the beginning of this plant’s lifespan, and it’ll reward you tenfold for decades and decades to come!
If you’re looking for more low-maintenance plants, check out this list of gorgeous perennials. If you’re looking for companion plants for your peonies, make sure to choose flowers that need full sun and moist, well-drained soil.
You can choose plants that will provide a beautiful contrast to the peony’s delicate blooms or a flower that can complement it with its similarities.