How to Maintain Peonies


Peonies are flowering perennial plants that produce large fragrant blooms of various colors during the spring. The two most common types of peonies grown for the home garden are tree peonies (Paeonia suffruticosa) and garden peonies (Paeonia valbiflora or Paeonia officinalis). Peonies can grow to heights of between 2 and 4 feet in sunny locations, and, according to the University of Rhode Island Landscape Horticultural Program, have few pests or disease problems.

Step 1

Mulch the plant bed in early spring. Applying 2 to 3 inches of organic garden mulch controls weed growth and keeps the peonies from drying out during the hot summer months.

Step 2

Fertilize the peonies with a low-nitrogen, 5-10-10 fertilizer when stems reach 2 to 3 inches in height. The fertilizer can be purchased at local nurseries, home improvement centers, or hardware stores, and comes in granulated or liquid forms. After reading the instructions on the label thoroughly, apply with a hand-held spreader or garden sprayer as necessary.

Step 3

Trim unnecessary buds. Peonies will produce larger blooms if the side buds are removed with pruning shears as soon as they appear on the stems.

Step 4

Stake the plants. Peonies will produce large fragrant flowers that can cause the stems to become top-heavy and bend or break. Place stakes behind the plants, wrap stems loosely with plastic-coated garden ties, then wrap around the stakes.

Step 5

Cut off dead or dying blooms. Faded flowers should be cut just below the blooms with pruning shears to prevent seed development.

Step 6

Remove mulch in late fall with a rake. Peonies need exposure to cold temperatures to bloom properly in the spring. Removing the mulch also helps prevent the occurrence of soil-borne diseases.

Tips and Warnings

  • Peonies will not bloom well if they receive too much nitrogen or too little sunlight. Leaf blotch and other fungal diseases can occur during hot, humid weather. Trim any stems with evidence of leaf blotch. Avoid watering peonies at night, or with overhead irrigation, to help prevent incidences of fungal disease.

Things You'll Need

  • Organic garden mulch
  • 5-10-10 fertilizer
  • Hand-held spreader or garden sprayer
  • Pruning shears
  • Garden stakes
  • Plastic-coated garden ties
  • Rake


  • Peonies for the Home Landscape; Erv Evans; NC State University: Horticulture Information Leaflets
  • URI GreenShare Factsheets; University of Rhode Island Landscape Horticulture Program; 2000

Who Can Help

  • Popular Peonies!
Keywords: peonies, home garden, flowering perennial

About this Author

Barbara Biehler is a freelance writer who has written articles for various websites, as well as online specialty courses for She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Central Florida and over 15 years experience in business development, sales and marketing. An avid gardener, cook and voracious reader, Biehler resides with her family near Nashville, Tennessee.