Peonies are some of the most popular perennial flowers out there — just take a peek at any garden you pass and you’ll see what we mean! We’re certainly not surprised at this, though, considering the amount of beauty they can add to any landscape. Not to mention, they have one of the longest lifespans of any flower, making them one that any gardener can rely on.
If you’re new to gardening, or just looking to learn more about these timeless beauties, here are some facts about peonies we think you’ll find fascinating.
Types of peonies
There are three types of peonies you can choose to plant:
- Herbaceous peonies
- Tree peonies
- Intersectional peonies
Herbaceous peonies are often viewed as the most common. These usually bloom in early or mid-summer and die in the winter. The second type, tree peonies, tend to share their blooms with us in spring, and lose their leaves in the fall. Lastly, intersectional peonies are essentially a cross between the two; they die back each winter like herbaceous peonies and sprout large flowers like tree peonies.
That being said, to determine when your peonies will be in season, you’ll need to know exactly which type you planted.
How to plant and grow peonies
Since peonies can grow rather tall (sometimes even as tall as 5 feet!), you’ll need to make sure the spot you choose is spacious enough. And remember, peonies can come back year after year, so you’ll need to think long term. Here are a few tips to keep in mind before planting:
- The planting site you choose should be exposed to sun for at least half the day. That’s because the more sun your peony receives, the more flowers it will bloom!
- When making a spot for your peonies, make sure you dig your hole deep enough and wide enough to accommodate its full growth.
- Always make sure your peony’s eyes are facing up before placing them in your soil. Once they’re buried, cover them with soil and make sure you provide enough water.
Bonus tip: Since peonies can grow to be pretty large, they may need more support than some other flowers in your garden. So, make sure you have stakes ready as they start to grow to help hold them up if need be.
When to plant peonies
The best time to plant peonies varies depending on where you live. These flowers typically grow best in cooler climates and require a cold winter season, to encourage flower growth. A general rule of thumb is that they can be planted in the spring as soon as the ground starts to thaw, as well as in the fall, before the ground freezes over. Just keep in mind that if you plant in the spring, it may be a year or two before you see them really start to bloom.
To ensure your peonies thrive after planting, as well as for many years to come, do the following:
- Add a relatively thin layer of compost over your peonies each spring, along with a layer of mulch (approximately 2 inches worth). Doing so can help control the amount of weeds that sprout within your garden and will help retain the moisture surrounding your peonies.
- During the first winter, add about 4 to 6 inches of mulch to your garden right after the ground freezes to protect the roots of your peonies.
- When your area experiences periods of no rain, give your peonies a good watering on a weekly basis. You’ll know that you’ve over-watered if you start to see water pooling around the base of your peonies.
From white to red, coral, purple, pink, and yellow (peonies can come in a variety of colors!), the key to growing a thriving peony is to make sure you plant it at the proper time, plant it correctly, and, of course, care for it throughout the year, even when it isn’t necessarily in season. By doing so, we’re confident you’ll love the results!