Peonies are an old fashioned flower with an unforgettable fragrance. They require a little patience to establish, but your patience will be rewarded with fragrant blooms for years!
You know I love my fragrant spring flowers, especially lilcas, but I never fully appreciated the Peonies until my husband and I bought our house and there were a few already established in the yard. The previous home owner was a thrifty gardener, he volunteered at the local cemetery doing grounds maintenance, after the potted spring bulbs had faded, he brought home what was left of tulips, hyacinths, and daffodils that were set by headstones, and over the years planted an impressive spring garden. Two Peony plants were also in the bulb garden, I am guessing tubers were given to the previous owner, by a neighboring gardner. With three toddlers and a farm we didn’t have the time or desire to continue to maintain the bulb garden, but even though the Spring bulb garden had to go, I left the peonies, and over the years have come to love them.
Over the years the trees in the yard have filled in and the peonies just don’t get enough sun, every year the number of blossoms dwindle just a little bit more, so this year I am planting some new peonies.
Peonies require a little patience, they take time to establish. It will likely be a couple of growing seasons before your peony plant will produce abundant blooms regardless of when you plant it.
Can you Plant Peonies in the Spring?
If you missed the fall planting window for tubers, it’s okay, you can still plant peony tubers in the spring! The plants will most likely not bloom their first year, they will be busy establishing roots, and will probably just produce some foliage. Simply cut back any foliage once it starts to yellow and fade in the fall, and wait until the next spring for some blooms.
I told you growing peonies takes some patience, but I think they are worth the wait.
You can also purchase a mature peony plant from the nursery. The plant will come with planting instructions, but remember to prepare the soil ahead of time with high phosphorus fertilizer or composted manure. Plant in a sunny location.
How to Plant Peonies in the Spring:
From a tuber: According to the Cornell Cooperative extension, dig a hole about 18”- 24″ deep, and work a high phosphorus fertilizer or composted manure into the soil, you are going to want about 10″-16″ of well fertilized soil under the tubers. Plant the peony, with the eye buds up, just deep enough to be covered by 1-2” of soil in a well draining area. Planting too deeply can prevent flowering.
Plant peonies in an area where they will receive at least 5 hours of sunlight. Be sure to water to help establish the roots over summer. Simply cut back any foliage once it starts to yellow and fade in the fall, don’t worry about the cold or frost, the peony will enjoy a nice cold dormancy throughout the winter, and come spring will begin to grow, you will be rewarded with a few fragrant blooms!
Important Tips To Remember When Planting Peonies In the Spring
- Do not plant too deeply- planting too deeply with the most common cause of a peony not flowering.
- Peonies require plenty of sun to bloom- they need a least 5 hours of sunlight, choose your location accordingly.
- Do not overcrowd peonies- plant about 3-4 feet apart and away from other trees or bushes that will compete with soil nutrients and water.
- Don’t smother peonies with mulch. Where cold temperatures are severe, for the first winter after planting you can mulch VERY loosely with pine needles or shredded bark. Remove mulch in the spring before shoots emerge.
- Peonies are a long-lived perennial, and it can take three years for them to mature and bloom prolifically – but they are well worth the wait.
The Cornell Cooperative extension, has a wonderful PDF resource complete with diagrams to help you plant your peonies perfectly, make sure to check it out!
Do you love peonies too? What are your favorite varieties?