Herbaceous peonies

Peonies are hardy temperate climate plants and need a period of frost to induce flowering the next spring. They are easy plants, and real survivors. With the hints and tips provided we hope we help you to grow even healthier and stronger peonies next season.


A well-drained soil is imperative. Peony roots are like thick carrots; sitting in a waterlogged soil does not do them any good. Peonies grow in most soil types, however have a preference for well cultivated heavier soil. Additional garden compost worked into sandy and heavy clay soil improves the structure and allows for a better water management and nutrition base.


A peony can grow to a very old age, 50 years is no exception. Therefore it is important that the right location is selected from the start. Always provide sufficient space, 50 cm for a small compact peony to 1m for a large growing variety is recommended. Do not plant peonies under trees or shrubs. Competing for light, air, moisture and nutrition with established trees and shrubs is a very exhausting business. Provide plenty of sunlight and as important airflow. A peony needs approximately 6 hours of sun.



Plant in sufficiently deep loosened soil, you will have to get the spade out. Peonies are greedy; mix extra horn shavings, bone meal and/or any other SLOW release fertilizer into the planting hole. In light soils an addition of potash or Kalium fertiliser is appreciated. Don't let the roots touch the fertilizer.

When planting a peony do not plant the eyes any deeper than 4-5 cm under the soil level. In warmer areas it should be no less than 2-3 cm under soil level.

A bare root peony is best planted in autumn, so the plant has sufficient time to produce new roots. Peonies in containers can be planted throughout the year, just after flowering has preference. In a very hot summer, planting is best postponed until early autumn.


Check regularly, especially the first year, if your plant has sufficient water during hot summer days. Water generously once or maximum twice a week, instead of small quantities on a daily basis. Cut of the top growth at 10cm before winter and remove it from your garden. 


If your peony shows any sign of fungus attack on the leaves, shoots or flowers, cut out the affected parts and remove them from your garden. Also pick up and remove all the fallen leaves and spent flowers. If you wish apply a fungicides, several are available in garden centres, always use as directed. However addressing the cause of the problem should be your first concern. Stuffy surroundings and bad water management are definite areas, which should be tackled first. 


No real pests are known. Ants are no pests. They love the sugary substance the peony buds secrete. They take it home to their loved ones. Once the substance is gone, they stop coming for more. Itoh peonies do not secrete this substance and could be a lovely alternative if the ants bug you. 


On Facebook we try to address different peony-related issues. In doubt, please feel free to use the contact form to pop your question. 

Happy planting,