A Treasured Classic – Peony

They are a classic, because they have been around in so many peoples’ landscapes for years, often outliving their owner.  They are an easy to grow, shrub-like perennial.  Practically no maintenance and no gardening experience necessary!  Peonies can survive decades with no pruning, spraying, protecting or dividing.  If you love flowers, you must have a Peony in  your yard!

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They are treasured because of their large blooms (minimum 3″ across), super fragrance, excellent cut flowers, and longevity.   If you have average soil, half sun, and average drainage, you will probably still have an excellent peony that will impress. They bloom in late spring to early summer, and their ‘shrub-like’ foliage looks good into late fall.

I have listed some minor details that may prove to be helpful when growing your peony:

  • When planting, be sure the highest point in crown (new growth area) is only 2 inches below soil
  • Mulch is good, but keep off crown
  • Prefers neutral to slightly acidic soil
  • Prefers cool temps, does well in zones 3-8 (if well protected can survive in zones 2 & 9 too)
  • Prefers 6 hours of sunlight; less sun = less flowers
  • If sandy soil, it is good to add perennial fertilizer in spring
  • Never cut more than 50% of blooms at any given time
  • Foliage should be cut back in fall, 1-2 inches above soil (to prevent leaves from harboring any fungal disease)
  • Considered heavy feeders so it is best to wait to move or divide in fall

Peony Garden in Gosen City, Niigata, JapanIn the first 5 years of growth peonies get bushier and produce more flowers each year.  After 3-5 years you can easily divide your peony.  You can dig up the root ball and rinse roots, so you can see each of the tubular roots.  Get a long flat shovel and cut out a ‘slice of pie’; being sure that your slice has 1-3 crown buds in it.  Now, replant and water and wait for more ‘flower shrub’ peonies to emerge next spring.

Peonies are great for borders, including in a perennial garden, and great at covering over yellowing spring bulb foliage.  I am sure you will grow to love Peonies as much as I have!



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