Peony News

Watering Peonies -  Water newly planted peonies promptly upon planting.  Check the peony plant or root in a day or two to see if the root settled too deeply. Reposition it higher, if needed, by lifting it and placing more soil under it. Re-cover the root with soil. The peony eyes (buds) should be just an inch or two under ground level, with the roots going further down into the soil. 

Baby peony plants in the garden need water to thrive – give them a drink every couple of weeks throughout their first spring, summer and fall (unless the rain does that for you). Keep the soil slightly moist, not saturated. I prefer the ground to almost 'dry out' between waterings. 

As peony plants mature, they can thrive on less water and are rather drought tolerant, although a good watering now and then may be beneficial. Old established peony roots are quite hardy and often survive well with little or no watering (only rain water). 

If you have peonies in containers, be sure to water them often during the warm days of summer. A container dries out fairly quickly and may need watering daily during high heat. The leaves will show stress when they are in dire need of a drink. 


How often should I water my peonies

We are having a warm summer here in Oregon, with lots of days reaching the high 80’s to the mid-90’s. Yesterday was cooler, with thundershowers in the day time – refreshing, I thought. Today we are heading back to 90 degrees. I don’t recall a consistently warmer May-June-July, here in the Willamette Valley then we are having this year.

While mature peony plants are rather drought tolerant, we like to give them a nice, deep watering occasionally throughout the summer (unless we have some very good rainfalls). We water our baby peonies (1st and 2nd year plants) more often, as they are growing nice roots for dividing stock when they reach two years old. These field (ground) grown peony roots get deep watering and the soil will hold moisture around the roots for some time between waterings.

If you have peonies in containers that will be transplanted in the fall, they may need watering every couple of days in very hot weather, depending upon the size of the container. Nursery containers that are only 2 or 3 gallons will dry out rather quickly in 90 degree temperatures, while larger 5 and 10 gallon containers will hold moisture a bit longer. Water your containerized peony plants before they totally dry out. While potted peony plant roots are somewhat forgiving, they will suffer and become stressed from a lack of moisture. You can check the soil moisture with your fingers – you will feel if it is dry or moist. If the potted peony plant is very light to pick up, it is likely too dry. 

While I generally like the soil in my container peonies to 'almost' dry out between waterings, I stress that they can dry out very quickly in ‘heat waves’ and consistently warm weather. Be sure to keep an eye out on both your container and ground plants (peonies and other garden plants) this summer and give them a good drink of water before you think they REALLY need it.

For more tips on watering plants (checking moisture levels, how much water to put in a container, potting soil mixes, etc.,) check out Container Gardening Expert, Kerry Michaels article What Should I Know About Watering Plants in Containers.

While keeping cool and hydrated in hot weather is essential for people, it’s also a must for plant health. Her descriptive information on watering container plants is easy to read and useful for all levels of gardeners. 


July 25, 2012

To keep your peony plants looking great through the summer and fall, clip off tattered leaves and stems. Be sure to take a look at the bottom of the bush and check to see if slugs are hiding in the shade of the stems.

A good drink of water every couple of weeks and they’ll be showing their fall colors in style come September and October. This summer has been plenty hot in most of the states, so an occasional deep watering will be welcome, whereas other years you may have a few good rainfalls and not need to water your established peony plants.

Remember – a potted peony plant needs more frequent watering.

Some folks like to give a bit of fertilizer after bloom season and others never fertilize their peonies in the summer. Some soils are richer in nutrients than others, so feel free to see what works best with your plants in your garden.

I’m already thinking about new varieties we’ll be planting this fall. Gardening & farming bring out my anticipation of nurturing and growing something that will bring joy down the road. I’m scoping out where I want to add peonies in our garden this fall – some of the shrubs will just have to go!


While peonies are rather drought tolerant plants once established, it is important to give new peony transplants and 1 - 2  year old peony plants a good drink of water to keep them from drying out (frequency depends upon your soil and weather conditions). Older plants will benefit from an occasional watering, especially in the heat many of you are experiencing.

Now is the time to dead-head your peony plants, if you haven't done so already. Simply cut the dried-up flower head off of the stem, an inch or two below the flower head. It cleans up your plants for summer and helps tidy up your garden. Be sure to toss the spent petals and flower heads in the garbage, rather than composting them. This helps keep a healthier peony garden.

You can also let some of the peony flowers form seed pods, by not dead-heading. If a seed pod develops, it may produce viable seed. The seed pods generally start to crack open in late August, revealing their seeds. Peony seed pods can also be very beautiful. Not all varieties produce seed, but if they do, you can experiment with growing new plants from seed - perhaps gaining a new peony variety if the seed was cross pollinated.

Keep cool,



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