How to Grow Peonies

Find a location where the soil drains well IE no standing water after a storm. Peonies prefer soil that provides average moisture, but is not water logged. Keep in mind that your peonies will live for years, so adding nutrients in the form of compost, to the soil when planting is a good idea. Natural fertilizers work better than chemical fertilizers as peonies are heavy feeders, so unless you have VERY fertile soil, you should use some kind of composting, mulch or manure to help you peony bulbs.


Plant peonies where they will receive full sun for best results. While peonies will survive in moderate shade they will not bloom as well. At least 6 hours of strong sun is recommended. Your peonies will be shipped to you according to growing zone, so when you receive them, it is the ideal time to get them in the ground.


Plant clumps of bulbs 3 feet apart so the roots have enough space to grow. Peony bulbs should be placed face up, with the buds facing upward, digging holes 8 inches across and 12 inches deep is on the average perfect. When you cover the peony bulb make sure it is loosely covered with soil about 2 inches above the buds. Any deeper, and the buds may not be able to grow out of the soil. 


After planting, water generously, soak the soil. Foliage will appear in the spring and will be easily identified because they are bright red or pink. The sprouts will grow and change to green as they mature. Flower buds will follow although buds don't always form the first spring.


The first year most roots 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.


Watering heavily on a weekly basis is usually more beneficial to peonies than a light watering every couple of days.


As fall arrives the leaves will yellow, and then wilt, after the first frost. Divide peony bulbs in the fall by digging them up and cutting them into sections this is recommended. Ideally, do this after the first frost has killed the foliage. You should cover the bulbs with a layer of mulch to help them through the winter.

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