Boost Your Peonies' Bloom Time with This Season-by-Season Care Guide
Peony plants produce large, fluffy, and often delightfully fragrant flowers; they come in a plethora of colors and, depending on the variety, might even showcase several shades. Known for their deep green leaves and large, sometimes top-heavy flower heads, these perennials don't need much care after their initial planting—but there are still several tasks to carry out throughout the year to ensure that your plants come back strong and healthy. Ahead, Kaylyn Hewitt, the lead floral designer at The Bouqs Company, shares how to care for your peonies in spring, summer, fall, and winter.
In late winter or early spring—depending on how cold the winters are in your area—add a thin layer of compost around your peony bushes. "After your peony bushes have established around a foot of new growth (this happens by mid-spring), apply a slow-release fertilizer," Hewitt adds. This will ensure that your plants are getting all the nutrients they need to thrive after a long dormancy period. If you have larger, more established plants and are worried about top-heavy blooms that could cause them to topple over, install a support structure before they get too big; old tomato cages can be trimmed down to ensure that your blooms remain upright.
Prune your peony throughout its summer growing season, but avoid cutting it back. "Unlike rose bushes, peonies do not need much pruning other than to maintain their shape and to control insects," Hewitt explains. Be careful as you snip: Ensure you're not trimming back the stems that contain the large round bulbs, which will produce the fluffy blooms these stunners are known for.
Once the season has come to its true end and the first frost has passed, do a deep prune. "Cut your peony bushes down to the soil level to promote new, healthy growth in the spring," Hewitt says, noting that this normally takes place in October or November, depending on your region. This is also a good time to move your plants or take a cutting for propagation. "I would suggest moving or propagating peonies at the end of the season, after you have cut your bushes back," she explains. "Dig up your roots and leave them untouched for a couple of days so that they soften and are easier to cut." When you replant, place your bush in a spot that has well-draining soil and sees full sun. Transplant peonies sparingly, however, adds Hewitt, since they don't like to be moved much.