When to Plant Peony Bulbs and Their Fluid Needs

The Peony Plant

While most people know the Peony plant to bloom for decades (or even centuries) on the same site when they are content with it when to plant Peony bulbs is still a challenging decision for many gardeners.

When you drive through ancient, deserted farmsteads in the Spring, you can see peonies still flowering profusely. These plants have long-lasting flowers that can continue to flourish for many years.

Blooming pink peony

When to Plant Peony Bulbs

If you plant it properly and it becomes established, a Peony plant requires minimal upkeep. However, remember that they do not adapt well to transplanting, so you should consider this when choosing your planting location. So, when do you plant Peonies?

Plant peonies in the Fall; in most of the United States, in late September or early October, and even later in the Fall in zones seven and eight. That’s about six weeks before the ground freezes.

You can also plant your peony bulbs in the Spring; however, the results aren’t always favorable. According to experts, they will often trail behind peonies planted in the Fall by roughly a year.

Also, Fall is the ideal season to transplant established plants, specifically when they have gone dormant.

Are Peonies Perennials?

Since this plant exists all year round, most people wonder, is peony annual or perennial? The peony plant is a perennial plant. It can live for more than one year and return to steal your breath each time.  

It’s possible that the plants will outlive you; certain species of Peonies can remain healthy for more than a century.

Where to Plant Peonies

You can plant Peony tubers anywhere there’s full sunlight to a little shade. They require well-drained soil (moist) with a few extra nutrients. Do not plant them near trees.

You can use Peonies to create an attractive low hedge or sentinels to line walks. The peony’s bushy cluster of gorgeous glossy green leaves lasts throughout summer, and then in the Fall, they change to a purplish-red or golden color, making it as stately and dignified as any flowering shrub. It happens after the peony’s breathtaking bloom.

Peonies look beautiful when planted with columbines, baptisias, and veronicas in mixed borders and go well with irises and roses. Set off pink peonies with blue Nepeta or violets, and plant white peonies with yellow irises and a froth of forget-me-nots.

Cutting Peonies Back – What You Need to Know

Knowing when to cut down peonies is essential to give room for new plants. You should prune your peonies in the Fall, before winter, and dispose of any dead plant material.

According to Pangborn, “Peonies are prone to foliar fungal infections.” If damaged foliage remains on the plant during the winter, it can expose new growth to harmful pathogens that have overwintered on the old leaves. This can result in damage to the plant.

If you prune your peonies before winter, your garden will seem much neater. Green warns, “if you don’t cut them, the leaves and stems will decay, become mushy, and fall to the ground.” This is a result of not cutting them.

But what happens if you don’t cut your Peonies back? In this case, the old leaves will continue to grow over the winter and into the Spring, making the plants appear unpleasant; however, they should still flower the following year.

This raises the possibility that you will pass on any old fungal problems to the fragile new growth in the Spring.

Peony Bulb Water Requirements

Peonies have enormous flower heads, arching stems, and drooping darlings. They frequently require assistance standing up, much like happy hour retirees. Their large blooms may cause this nodding tendency, but it may also indicate that these plants need plenty of water. They require frequent watering.

Your region may have different peony water requirements, but knowing when to water them will help your plants thrive. Western North America, Asia, and Europe are the native home of the peony. 

Peony bulbs develop from large, divisible store roots that serve as the foundation for new plants. These roots do not penetrate the soil very deeply. Instead, they have dense branching and few surface roots. Due to their unique structure, they cannot efficiently collect dew and lighter moisture near the surface or deep under the soil.

Peonies may survive short periods of drought, but regular watering is essential for the best growth and healthiest roots. They typically require 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) of water every week.

To assess the peony’s water requirements, simply touch the ground. In scorching summer, touching the top will likely be sufficient, but in the Spring and Fall, you really need to insert a finger. The plant requires water if the soil is dry to the second knuckle. Weeping, dropping buds, and discolored, desiccated leaves are visual indicators.

How Much Sun Do Peonies Need?

Knowing Peony sun requirements is vital for your plant’s growth. Generally, most peony flower kinds demand a full day’s worth of sun, ranging from six to eight hours. The ideal location for a garden is one that faces south and is free of walls or other obstructions.

Tree Peonies and specific herbaceous cultivars are more tolerant of shadows than other types of peonies. They do best with full morning light and a break from the heat in the afternoon.

To get the most out of the conditions, choose plants suited to your region or grow them in pots and wall baskets so you can easily move them where there’s sunlight.

White peony

When to Prune Peonies

Pruning Peonies keeps your garden looking neat and allows for new plants to shoot. The right time to prune your Peonies is in the Fall. Although the flowers only last a week or two, you can stretch the season up to six weeks by planting several types together.

Herbaceous peonies have delicate stems and naturally die back in the Fall before regrowing in the Spring. In the Fall, trimming the dead limbs to the ground keeps the garden looking neat and helps keep pests and illnesses at bay.

Trim peony tree limbs to eliminate winter weather damage and fix spring structural issues. When the flowers have faded, you’ll remain with a beautiful shrub with deeply cut leaves. When cutting the stems, be careful not to harm the crown, the fleshy portion of the plant that lies between the roots and the limbs.

How Big Do Peonies Get?

Peonies, popular for their long-lasting and frequently fragrant cut flowers, have three categories of species: Intersectional, herbaceous, and tree/shrub. Despite being the most popular variety, herbaceous peonies typically have smaller flowers than the other varieties.

Tree Peonies have 12-inch flowers, while the intersectional species have a growth pattern of the herbaceous kind and more closely resemble tree peonies in their blossoms.

So, how tall do peonies grow? Herbaceous Peonies usually grow as tall as 2 to 3 feet (0.6 to 0.9 meters). They extend their stems to as long as 2 to 4 feet (0.6 to 1.2 meters). By reaching maturity, they will require support from twine-tied stakes, deconstructed tomato cages, or metal rings on their legs.

Their blooms come in different colors, including red, cream, white, and pink. The reds could be bordering on chocolate brown in terms of depth. Also, they grow in various shapes, including single, semi-double, double, and Japanese varieties, with a single row of petals encircling a substantial core mass.

Tree Peonies are deciduous shrubs that grow 4 to 10 feet (1.2 to 3 meters) tall and do not require support, in contrast to the herbaceous species. They bloom best in dappled shade with three to four hours of sunlight daily.

The color of tree Peony flowers is the same as those of their herbaceous relatives, with additional copper, coral-like (almost orange), and yellow colors. These flowers grow as wide as 10 to 12 inches (25.4 to 30.4 centimeters).

Intersectional Peonies grow up to 3 feet (0.9 meters) tall. According to Ohio State University, some people call them Itoh peonies in honor of Toichi Itoh, who made the first successful cross between a tree peony and a herbaceous perennial in the 1940s. 

Generally, peony size depends on the species and the years it has lived.

When Do Peonies Sprout?

Peonies can typically bloom sometime between the end of summer and the beginning of Spring. This, however, will entirely depend on your location, the species of peony you choose to cultivate, the conditions in which they will be grown, and other factors.

Planting peonies of the midseason and late-season kinds is what we would suggest doing if you want the peony season to last for a few more weeks than it usually would.

Ideal Peony Growing Conditions

Peonies thrive well when planted in full sun and in soil that has been made more fertile by adding garden compost or manure with sufficient time to decompose.

As long as your garden soil does not become soggy in the winter and dry up completely in the summer, it can thrive in various soil types, including clay.

Because they are entirely winter plants and hardy, they do not require any protection during the winter.

Can You Plant Peonies in the Spring?

Although planting peonies in the Spring is absolutely a possibility, the results aren’t always favorable. According to experts, they often trail behind plants planted in the Fall by roughly a year.

Do Peonies Bloom All Summer?

Depending on your location and the kind you are planting, peonies bloom from late Spring to early summer.

You may extend the peony season across several weeks and use those magnificent blossoms for a longer period, thanks to the abundance of nurseries that provide early, midseason, and late blooming types.

Peonies may thrive as far south as Zones 7 and 8 and are hardy to Zone 3. The key to success in most of the United States is providing full light and well-drained soil. Peonies even enjoy the winter’s coldness because it helps their buds grow.

Pink peony plants in the garden

In Conclusion

Some peony flowers, notably the double or “bomb” variety, can be huge, and their weight can cause the stems and foliage to fall over. Big Ben and Peony Joker are two excellent examples of giant flowered Peonies.

It’s advisable to use a support system (Peony cage) designed for surrounding the new growth and install it early in the growing season when your peonies are still little so they can grow with the support of the cages, keeping them upright and bouncy.

Alternatively, if staking isn’t your thing, seek cultivars like Peony Bartzella, which have incredibly sturdy stems and don’t need it.

All said, be patient with your Peony plants. It may take a year for the bulbs to bloom before peonies become established and dazzle. But when they do, they simply see the enchantment from a distance. These are some of the easiest-to-grow beauties you’ll ever see in your garden.

Peonies also make stunning cut flowers! 

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