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Watering Can


When to Plant

Bare-root peonies should be planted between autumn and early spring unless the ground is frozen or waterlogged. If you are not able to plant 2 - 3 litre pot, ready to transplant when conditions allow. 

How to plant

Remember to soak the root for about 30mins before planting. Peonies prefer heavier soils (but not waterlogged), in a sunny or lightly shaded position. Dig a hole 5 times the width of the crown, and at least 1 and a half times the depth. Mix plenty of organic matter into the planting hole and add grit on very heavy soils.  

Peonies are a long-term investment for your garden, they may not flower in their first year but be patient as flower production will increase as plants establish. As they can grow up to a metre tall, and spread the same amount, plant them a metre apart, preferably in groups of three to give plenty of flowers for cutting.

Don’t plant deep

Remember not to plant your peony too deeply. The tuberous roots must not be planted more than about 2.5cm below the surface. If they are planted any deeper, they may give wonderful foliage but they simply will not flower.

If you have a peony in the garden and it isn’t flowering, it is probably because it has been planted too deeply or it has been buried when you have diligently mulched your borders. Just wait until the autumn and then, taking care not to damage the buds on the roots, lift your peony and re-plant it at the right depth.

Good drainage

Plant your peony in fertile, free-draining soil. These flowers are not generally too fussy about the soil and are quite happy in chalky or clay soils provided that it is free draining. They don’t like to sit in water in the winter.

Once planted, your peony will be quite content to be left alone. In fact, if you have rich, fertile soil you probably don’t need to feed your peony.

If your soil is not so good, a balanced, general fertiliser such as Growmore applied in the spring should do the trick. It is also a good idea to cut back and remove the dead leaves in autumn to avoid peony wilt.

Moving Peonies  

It’s a myth that they don’t like being moved. Carefully lift the plants in the autumn and replant or divide them. Remember to keep 3-5 buds on each bit of root that you divide and, if you are planting them in a container, don’t overwater them. 


Plant supports should be ideally inserted in spring, before plants have made too much growth. The plants will then grow through the support and hide it from view. Later staking is difficult as plant growth is more advanced and can easily be damaged. 

Peonies are well-suited to grow through circular grid supports or use Y-stake supports. Spiral ring are useful to prop up these plants later on when blooming



Why are there ants on my peonies? As the flower buds open they exude a sugary substance that ants love. Don’t worry, they will not damage the plants, unless they form a nest among the roots.


Why are there brown spots on my peony leaves? This could well be a symptom of either peony wilt or peony leaf blotch.

Why won't my peonies open? This could well be a disorder known as “balling” when wet weather causes the outer petals to fuse around the flower and not allow the inner petals to open properly. Ensure that your peony is planted in an open sunny position, so that the buds can dry out after rain. If buds start to go mouldy remove and destroy.


Why is there mildew on my peonies? This white fungal growth is usually caused by damp shady conditions. Remove the affected leaves and think of moving the plant to a more open site.


Why are my peonies dying? 

Peonies are quite robust plants, so as long as they are planted in decent soil in open ground they should survive well. Plants in pots are much more susceptible to over or underwatering, so this could be your problem. Failure to thrive is often caused by overwatering - peonies hate this.


Why are my peonies not blooming? 

The usual reason for this is that you have planted the root too deeply or mulched over the crown too frequently. The eyes of the roots only want to be 3-5cm below the surface.

Image by Rebecca
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