Peonies are one of the most famous and favorite perennials. This is not surprising, given their luxurious beauty and aroma. Peonies also thrive in almost every region.
Because peonies live for decades, they should be treated as a permanent addition to your landscape, not unlike planting a tree. Correct planting will provide you with flowers for many years.
Peonies are perennial flowers that appear in the spring with large showy flowers that last for several weeks. Depending on the variety and your location, peonies begin blooming in early spring and continue into summer.
Description of the plant
There are three types of these flowers: the herbaceous Eurasian peonies, the Asian tree, or moutan, peonies, and the North American peonies. In most places, flowers bloom in April, May or June. Expect tree peonies to bloom first, followed by herbaceous varieties, and then sectionals. Plant all three species in the garden to enjoy blooms for up to seven weeks.
When you grow these flowers for the first time, it can take up to four years of patience before you see your first blooms, but their longevity and ease of care make them an extremely useful addition to your garden design.
Choosing a place
Try to plant peonies in full sun and in fertile soil that has been improved by digging in the garden. They will grow well in a variety of soils, including clay, as long as it is not waterlogged in the winter and dries out in the summer. They are completely hardy, so they do not need shelter for the winter.
Peonies are adaptable, but ideally they like well-drained, slightly acidic soil (pH 6.5-7.0). If you’re planting in heavy clay soil, adding compost or a soil mix designed for azaleas and rhododendrons will make it easier for your peony to settle in. Tree peonies like slightly more alkaline soil than standard herbaceous peonies, and they do not tolerate competition from other shrubs.
How to plant peonies
Peonies are easy to plant and only take a few minutes. They are planted in the same way as other herbaceous perennials, but it is important not to plant too deep, as this can reduce flowering. Plants sold in pots are best planted in late spring. Seeds with bare roots are best planted in late autumn.
Choosing a place to land
Try to plant peonies in full sun and in fertile soil that has been improved by digging in the garden.
- Space plants about 1m apart depending on their final height and spread;
- Dig a planting hole the same depth as the root ball;
- Move the soil with a shovel and carefully compact the plant, pressing with the heel of the shoe;
- Make sure that the future buds are covered with a layer of soil no more than 2.5 cm, since deep planting reduces flowering;
- Water the plants to settle the soil and continue to water regularly, especially in dry weather during the first summer;
- Mulch with well-rotted organic matter to preserve moisture.
Plant peonies in autumn: in late September and October. If you need to transplant an adult plant, it is best to do it in the fall, especially when the plant has gone dormant. Peonies should be planted about six weeks before the ground freezes.
Planting in the spring
Although it is certainly possible to plant peonies in the spring, things are worse with spring peonies. Experts agree: they are usually about a year behind those planted in the fall.
Peonies, one of the longest-lived garden plants, are sometimes passed down from generation to generation in families. It is important to get the initial planting right because peonies can be temperamental about being moved once they are established.
Water regularly during dry spells during the first year to help rooting, especially if planted in spring or summer. Rooted peonies have deep roots and do not need regular watering after the first year.
Do not fertilize in the spring, otherwise you risk burning the new growth. Instead, give a well-balanced fertilizer in late winter and summer after the flowers have faded.
Peonies require a little pruning. Once your flower has finished blooming, cut back dead stems and branches. If the stem appears diseased, cut before the affected part. If two branches rub against each other, remove the least desirable branch. When pruning peonies, always cut directly above the first bud.
There’s a myth that peonies can’t be moved, but if you get them out of the ground when they’re dormant in the fall, disturbing the root ball as little as possible, and plant them as soon as possible, they’ll be fine.