5 tips for growing better peonies

Peonies are long lived, low maintenance flowering perennials. They are deer resistant and can thrive in our Northwest climate.  Peonies grow in USDA zones 2-8.

Plant potted peonies in the spring or fall; plant bare root peonies in the fall.

  • SUN & SOIL  Plant peonies in a sunny, well drained location. Peonies love full sun; at least a half day of sun will provide abundant blooms. Plant on mini ‘hills’ to provide better drainage, if needed. There is often no need to amend the soil; peonies grow in clay soils.
  • PREP  Dig a good hole for your peony, about 12” deep by 12” wide. Spade up the soil you removed from the hole and put it back into the hole. That’s right – fill it back in with freshly spaded soil. Scoop out just enough soil to place your root or peony plant in it.
  • ROOT DEPTH  Plant peony roots near ‘ground level’ (not very deep). The buds (eyes) of the root will be at the top, just below the surface of the ground. The fleshy part of the root (kind of like a carrot) will be pointing down or at an angle into the hole. Cover the peony root until only one to two inches of soil covers the ‘eyes’ (buds). The ‘eyes’ will be just under ground level. Planting too deeply can stunt growth. When planting a peony from a pot, remove the pot and plant the peony so that the top of the ‘root ball’ is at ground level, with only a tiny amount of soil covering it. 
  • WATER  Give your new planting a drink of water. Check to see if the root settled deeper. If it did, lift the root, slip a little soil under it and reposition the peony root so the ‘eyes’ are just below ground level. Water occasionally the first summer; once established, peonies are rather drought tolerant.
  • CARE  Many gardeners never fertilize peonies; others fertilize each spring with a little flower fertilizer. In the fall, cut the stems to ground level and remove the old leaves and stems from the garden. The peony plant ‘eyes’ will reappear each spring. Peonies can grow for decades in the same spot without needing divided.
                                                                        Brooks Gardens - an Oregon peony farm.
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