How to Winterize Peonies
Be careful not to cut the stems off too closely to the crown of the plant, because doing so may harm the peony.
With proper care, a peony shrub can live up to 30 years. Imagine the gardening legacy as successive generations enjoy the beautiful blooms and wonderful scents of a peony plant year after year. Protect your peony plant from harsh winter conditions by tucking it in snugly each autumn. Every autumn there are important steps a gardener must take to make sure that the peony returns in robust health next spring.
Remove the peony hoops if you used them to support your peony shrubs. Store them away over the winter for use next spring.
Cut back all the stems so that they extend approximately 2 inches above the crown of the plant. The crown is the point where stems and roots meet. Discard the stems.
Divide the tubers at this time, if necessary. Carefully dig up the tubers and wash off the excess soil so you can see exactly what you are doing when dividing. Use a utility knife to trim all roots to a length of between 4 and 8 inches. Separate the tuber so that each separated portion has between three and five eye buds and roots between 4 and 6 inches long. If there are decaying portions of the tuber, cut these off and discard them. Replant the divided tubers between 3 and 4 feet apart. Dig holes wide enough for the roots, and plant the tubers with eye buds pointing up. Cover each tuber with approximately 2 inches of soil. Water the newly divided peonies well.
Wait until after the ground freezes and apply a 1-inch deep layer of mulch. It is very important not to mulch until after the ground freezes. Mulching when the ground is too warm may keep the peony tuber too warm over the winter, and this will prevent the peony from flowering.
Remove the mulch in the early spring.
- Be careful not to cut the stems off too closely to the crown of the plant, because doing so may harm the peony.
- Garden shears
- Utility knife
- Mulch (shredded leaves, bark, wood chips or hay)