Peonies are gorgeous perennial flowers with large, fragrant blooms. These resilient, long-lived flowers get better over the years and have a special place among many gardeners. Come along as we talk about how to grow peonies!
When to Plant Peonies
Peonies can be planted in the Spring or the Fall.
For Spring plant them after the last frost and as soon as your soil has thawed.
For Fall plant them six weeks before the soil freezes.
Where to Plant Peonies
Peonies thrive in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 8.
Plant peonies where they will receive full sun for the most blooms. At least six hours of sun is recommended.
Peonies prefer soil with average moisture so find a location where the soil drains well. If peonies sit in wet, heavy soil they will begin to rot. Keep in mind that peonies live for many years so adding compost to the soil when planting is a good idea. Natural fertilizers are better than chemical fertilizers. They are very heavy feeders so you should use some kind of composting mulch.
How to Plant Peonies
Plant peonies 3 feet apart so they have enough room to grow.
Dig the hole on average 8 inches across and 12 inches deep. The size of the hole will depend on the length of the roots. Set the tuber root in the hole with the eyes upward making sure they are only 1 to 2 inches below the soil surface and fill the hole. Don’t plant the tuber too deep or the plant will not flower. After planting water generously.
How to Care for Peonies
Foliage will appear in the spring and will be bright red or pink. They will grow and change to green as they mature, followed by flower buds. Watering heavily on a weekly basis is more beneficial than a light watering every couple of days.
As fall arrives the leaves will yellow. After the first frost the leaves will wilt.
You can propagate peonies by lifting the root clump out of the ground and dividing it. Ideally, do this after the frost has wilted the foliage. Peonies won’t need divided if at all until after ten years.
How to Harvest Peonies for Cut Flowers
Peonies will bloom around April, May or June.
The first year most plants will produce 2-5 leaves and 1-2 flowers. The plant will continue to grow each year and by the fourth or fifth year it will be fully established and mature.
It is best to cut flowers early in the morning. Harvest the blooms when the bud feels like a large, firm marshmallow or when you observe the first petal moving away from the bud.
Place the cut flowers immediately in cool water. Remove all the foliage that will be below water level in the final arrangement. You can keep the cut flowers in a cool, dark place for storage. The optimal holding temperature is 34 degrees, however, this will slow maturity. Allow 2-3 days for the buds to open.
Peony Varieties We’ve Planted at Smoky Mountain Farmhouse
Peonies come in many colors, forms and sizes. Below is a list of all the varieties we have planted at the farm.
We planted 25 our first year flower farming:
- Honey Gold
- Coral Charm
- Duchesse de Nemours
- Bowl of Cream
- Bowl of Beauty
- Shirley Temple
- Pastel Peony Mix
Locally grown cut flowers are fresh, beautiful and long lasting. Above all, they bring joy to everyone. Flower farmers provide their local community with a fresh, sustainable alternative to conventional growing.
Click here to find out “Why local flowers are important?”
Watch Our Video on Planting Peonies
Follow along over on our YouTube channel as we plant peonies and other cut flower around the farm!