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Growing Peonies

Growing Peonies

Red Charm Peony

Red Charm Peony item #13464

Long-lived, low-maintenance perennials with an old-fashioned appearance and attractive, fragrant flowers. Available in Herbaceous or Tree types and Intersectional (Itoh) Hybrids between the two. Tree Peonies have a shrub-like habit and woody stems. Used for back borders, massing, cottage gardens, specimen plants, and for cut flowers. Because they are long-lived and prefer to not be disturbed once established, Peonies benefit from good soil preparation and planting in large holes enriched with compost or other organic matter. Plant bare root Peonies 4 to 8 weeks before the last spring frost. Prepare a hole 18 to 24 inches deep and wide. Plant herbaceous types with the eyes 1 to 1 ½ inches deep. Itoh Peonies should be planted somewhat deeper, with eyes 2 to 4 inches below the soil surface.


For full sun and well-drained soils. Best in cool climates, and prefers afternoon shade in hot climates. Benefits from a thick organic mulch to help keep soil moist and provide winter protection. Can be planted in raised beds to improve soil drainage. Peonies usually take 3 years to flower after planting, but can live for 50 years or longer. Herbaceous and Itoh types can be cut back to the ground in fall and the foliage removed to reduce disease pressure. Tree Peonies should not be cut back. Over fertilization can result in weak, floppy stems. Planting too deeply or in overly shaded sites can prevent plants from flowering.

Fertilizer Recommendations

Use full rates of Algoflash Flowering Plant 4-6-7 Liquid Fertilizer (51087), Neptune Fish & Seaweed Fertilizer 2-3-1 (51221), or Osmocote 14-14-14 (51173).

Alternative Products

Another long-lived, low-maintenance perennial is Helleborus. Other perennials grown for cut flowers include Coneflower and Rudbeckia.

Complimentary Products

Peonies are moderate feeders and benefit from annual fertilization in spring. Other perennials with fragrant flowers include Dianthus and Lily of the Valley. Lilac is a fragrant flowering shrub.

Product Recommendations

Black Gold Earthworm Castings (54307) or Chickity Doo Doo 5-3-2.5 (74559) can be used to amend soil when planting Peonies.

Peony Facts

Usually not significantly bothered by pest or disease problems. Aphids, rose chafer, grey mold, and leaf spot sometimes affect plants. Ants are commonly seen on flower buds of Peonies, and a common garden myth is that ants cause the buds to open. Ants actually feed on sugary substances produced on the buds, and are not involved with the buds opening. 

Growing Tips