Caring for Peonies

Peonies have been cultivated for over 600 years. image by Tudou Mao/


Peonies are a hardy plant and require very little maintenance, making them a natural choice for a simple garden. Peony plants survive up to 50 years, ensuring there will be color in your garden for years to come. They prefer cool weather and must have winter chill in order to bloom come warm weather. They come in a range of shades in red, white and yellow. Blooming from spring into summer, they bring color to the garden for two to three months.

Step 1

Fertilize peonies in the spring and at mid-season with a low-nitrogen fertilizer. Work ½ cup of fertilizer around the base of each plant when the stems are 3 inches high.

Step 2

Apply 2 to 4 inches of organic mulch over the garden bed and around each plant in the spring to keep moisture in the soil come summer heat.

Step 3

Water deeply and keep the soil moist when the weather is dry and hot.

Step 4

Deadhead peonies as flowers wilt. Pinch off the spent flower before seed heads form to encourage more blooms.

Step 5

Pinch off the buds along the sides of the stems for single large flowers at the top or leave on for more, smaller blooms on each stem.

Step 6

Cut the stems down to 3 inches tall after the leaves die in autumn, and discard the cut leaves and stems.

Step 7

Remove the organic mulch from the beds before winter and cover peonies in a thick straw mulch for winter protection and to prevent disease.

Tips and Warnings

  • Avoid getting fertilizer directly on roots or foliage. Do not add cut leaves from your peonies to your compost pile because this may spread plant disease.

Things You'll Need

  • Fertilizer
  • Organic mulch


  • The Garden Helper
Keywords: peony care, annual flowers, cool weather gardening

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.

Photo by: Tudou Mao/