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Peony Care | Tips to Grow Healthy Plants

Yankee Plus Dec 2015


Peony Care | Tips to Grow Healthy Plants
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peonies Peonies look lovely lining a garden walkway or hugging a fence.

Peonies have been called the “Marilyn Monroe” of flowers simply because they are so stunning.  Fragrant and perfect for cutting, they’re easy to grow once established. The hardy peony plant prefers full sun, ph-neutral, well-draining soil, and a deep cold spell each year to help it regenerate in the spring. Depending on the variety you choose, they can flower from spring through early summer with plump, showy, feathery blooms in hues of pink, red, peach, and white.

Unlike most perennials, peonies do not need to be dug up and divided as they grow and mature.

The ideal time to plant peony tubers is in the late fall before the first hard frost. Peonies do not respond well to being transplanted, so we recommend planting tubers, rather than transplanting an established plant.

Beautiful peonies at The House of the Seven Gables in Salem, Massachusetts.
Photo/Art by Alyson Horrocks
Beautiful peonies at The House of the Seven Gables in Salem, Massachusetts.

Peony Care | How to Plant Peonies

1.      Dig a flowerbed approximately two feet deep and two feet across in a sunny spot with ph-neutral, well-draining soil.

2.      Enrich the bed’s soil by adding up to a cup of bone meal to it and mixing well.

3.      Place peony tubers in the hole with the eyes facing up and loosely cover the roots, approximately 2 inches below the soil surface under the tubers.

4.      Gently fill the hole with the enriched soil and then water thoroughly every other day for the next few weeks.

5.      Mulch lightly with bark for the first year but be sure to remove the mulch in the spring so the plant can emerge without difficulty.

Don’t get discouraged if you do not have blooms for the first year or two. Peonies may take 3-5 years to be established enough to bloom. Once peonies are established, your patience will be rewarded for years to come with stunning flowers that will require very little care.

pink peonies

Photo/Art by Brenda Darroch

Peony Pointers
If your newly growing peonies seem leggy or are starting to bend close to the ground, gently stake the plant stalk so it remains upright.

It’s normal to discover ants crawling on peony flowers. These ants eat nectar and not the plant itself.  They also eat pest insects. Simply shake off the ants if you decide to cut some of the flowers; otherwise leave them alone.

Fun Fact
Did you know that peonies could live up to 100 years?


Shelley Wigglesworth


Shelley Wigglesworth


Shelley Fleming-Wigglesworth is a certified Maine Master Gardener and award winning newspaper columnist from Kennebunk, Maine. She has been writing for the York County Coast Star for more than a decade as a freelance columnist and features writer. In 2010 she began writing her own gardening column “The Master Gardener’s Notebook” for Tourist News. She also teaches gardening classes at local schools and colleges
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