How to Plant, Grow and Care For Peonies

A recent visit to Whistling Gardens inspired in me a desire to add more peonies to my garden. The bloom is outrageously beautiful and with planning can remain
in bloom from spring to summer. The lush green foliage remains in the garden all summer long. Here are a few tips to ensure success with peonies in your garden.

1. Look for a variety of early, midseason and late blooming varieties. You can stretch the peony season over many weeks.

2. There are 6 flower types to choose from: anemone, single, Japanese, semi-double, double and bomb. Also the fragrances vary so visit a peony garden in bloom to decide what fragrance you like best.

3. Peonies are hardy to Zone 3. Their requirements are simple: full sun and well-drained soil. They like the cold winters as they need to chill for bud formation.

4. Plant peonies in late fall. They should be settled into place about 6 weeks before the ground freezes. You can plant peoies at other times but they take a little longer to settle in.

5. Choose the right location for your peony as they do not like to be moved. Provide shelter from strong winds. They like deep, fertile, humus rich, moist soil that drains well.

6. Plant peonies 3 to 4 feet apart. Dig a generous hole about 2 feet deep and 2 feet across. Add some organic material to the planting hole.

7. Set the root so the eyes face upward on top of a mound of soil in the hole. The roots should be just 2 inches below the soil surface. Back fill the hole taking care not to bury the root deeper than two inches. If planting a container grown peony, cover no deeper than it grew in the pot. Water thoroughly.

8. Do not smother peony roots with mulch. In very cold areas, you may want to mulch lightly in the fall but remove the mulch in the spring.

9. Your peony will need a few years to establish itself before it reaches it’s full potential.

10. Spare the fertilizr. If your soil is poor, work a bit of ferlizer into the soil around the peony after it has  bloomed and you have deadheaded the flower. Do not fertilize more than every few years.

11.  Deadhead as soon as the blooms begin to fade. In the fall, cut down the foliage to the ground and remove it from the garden.

Some recommendations to have bloom from June into July:

Scout’ very early, red single flowers
‘Firelight‘ very early, pale pink  single blossoms
Karl Rosenfield‘ midseason, double with large crimsom flowers
Norma Volz‘ midseason, white, full double flowers
Elsa Sass‘ late season double, pure white camellia like fowers
Rare Flower of Frosty Dew’ late, 3 foot plant, with bright pink fragrant blooms.

Suggested Companion Plants: columbines, baptisias, veronicas, irises, roses, forget-me-nots, and blue nepeta

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