How to Care for Peonies

Ants didn't open these blooms, but they can enjoy them. image by


As peony buds appear in May and June, ants are often seen crawling over them; and soon after, the buds open. Many people believe the ants help pry the petals open and signal to the plant that it is time to bloom. While this is a comforting thought, unfortunately, it's not true. The ants are simply attracted to the sweet-smelling flowers and enjoy the nectar. So while the ants won't help or hurt your plant, you can take steps to care for your peonies, ensuring that you see beautiful, fragrant blooms every year, ants or not.

Step 1

Make sure your peonies are getting at least 6 hours of direct sunlight a day to ensure you see flowers. A plant that isn't thriving won't bloom. If you need to, transplant your peony in the fall to a more sunny location to get better results, but a transplated peony may take 2-3 years to bloom after moving.

Step 2

Keep your peonies well watered during the growing season. While you don't want to flood the soil, 1 inch of water a week by (a combination of your watering, and rainwater), should keep it healthy without encouraging disease.

Step 3

Check that your plant isn't set too deeply into the ground. The eyes should be pointing up at the top of the roots with approximately 1 inch of soil over them. Use up to 2 inches of soil in northern regions.

Step 4

Use manure or compost as a sidedressing for the peonies once a year to encourage strong growth. Make fertilizing your peonies a part of your annual tasks to keep them healthy and blooming.

Step 5

Add supports to the plants at the beginning of the growing season so the new shoots can grow up through them. If you don't mind the drooping look, or don't have particularly large blooms on your variety of peony, supports may not be necessary.

Step 6

Cut back the foliage back, close to the ground, in the late fall and remove stems and leaves from covering the root area. Because blooms come on new growth, the plant can put all of its energy into making new shoots and flowers for the following year.

Tips and Warnings

  • Over-fertilization can prevent your peony from blooming. If your peonies are part of your yard--even if you aren't giving them too much fertilizer--they may be absorbing fertilizers given to your lawn.

Things You'll Need

  • Water
  • Compost or aged manure
  • Hand pruners


  • Growing guide for peonies
  • Power of peonies
Keywords: peony, peony blooming, blooming peonies

About this Author

Writing from Virginia, Margaret Telsch-Williams specializes in personal finance, money management, gardening, crafts and sewing, cooking, DIY projects and travel. When not writing instructional articles online, she works for the website Widescreen Warrior as a contributor and podcast co-host discussing all things film and entertainment. She holds a Bachelor of Science in biology and a master's degree in writing.

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