Peony bloom season has come and gone this year. I always wish it would go on and on. We had unusually warm weather this spring, and some of the peonies bloomed earlier than usual or out of their normal sequence. Many of the mid-season and late season peonies popped out nearly simultaneously, as we experienced just the right amount of warmth in mid to late May.
We had peonies blooming over a 10 week period with the earliest varieties blooming by April 11th and the latest varieties holding onto a few blossoms this past week. Scouting the peony field for the latest blooming peonies found Avalanche, Bouquet Perfect, Cheddar Surprise, Lavon, Lucky, Mt. Saint Helens and Princess Margaret still displaying blooms during week 10 of our 2014 season. Gay Paree and the Itoh peony Yellow Heaven, both mid-season bloomers with prolific side buds kept on blooming and blooming through the very end of the season.
After the bloom, we deadhead the peony plants, cutting off the flower heads. We leave a few to produce seed, which we will collect in late summer. If you do want to produce seed, leave the flower head on the plant and wait until late August to see if it produced viable seed. The plant uses a lot of energy (food reserves) to produce the seed; so, if you deadhead the peony stems after the bloom is done, the energy can be used for future stem and root growth.
To deadhead a peony: clip (cut) the stem just below the dead flower head to remove it. Tidy up your plant by cutting the top couple of inches off the stems to even out your plant. Leave the bulk of the stems/foliage through the summer. They will be cut down to ground level in the Fall, when the plants go dormant for the winter.
Some gardeners like to give their peonies a bit of fertilizer after the bloom season. Be sure to water newly transplanted and young peony plants through the first couple of summers. Once they are established and several years old, peony plants are rather drought tolerant.