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How to Start Peony Plants From Seeds

By Bridget Kelly ; Updated September 21, 2017

The peony is a perennial flowering plant that can grow to 5 ft.. The large, sometimes fragrant flowers bloom from late spring to early summer and do best in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 9. The peony is generally used for cut flowers or as an accent plant in borders, but can also be grown as a house plant. The seeds are easy to germinate, both in the garden and indoors, but plants grown from seed may not flower for three to seven years.

Starting Peony Seeds in the Garden

Plant peony seeds outside in the fall where it will get a full day of sunshine. However, if you live where the summers are hot and dry, seeds should be started in an area that gets afternoon shade.

Prepare the planting site by digging 4 in. into the soil with a shovel and turning over the earth, breaking up any large clods and removing any rocks or other debris.

Add a 2- or 3-in. layer of compost or rotted cow manure to the soil and mix well with a garden fork. Level the area and water well. Wait until the soil has drained to begin planting.

Bury the seeds 3 in. into the soil and tamp lightly. Keep the soil moist. The seeds should germinate and sprout the following spring.

Starting Peony Seeds Indoors

Place moist seed-germinating medium into a plastic bag and fill the bag half-way. Add the seeds and close the top of the bag.

Place the seed in a warm area but out of direct sunlight, and keep the medium moist. The seed can take a few weeks to a few months to sprout.

Move the bag to the refrigerator when the roots are 1 in. long. The bag should remain in the refrigerator for at least 10 to 12 weeks. Check the germinating medium often to make sure that it remains moist.

Pour the soil-less potting mix into the pot and moisten. Wait for the pot to fully drain and then plant the seedling in the potting mix, being very careful not to damage the roots.


Things You Will Need

  • To Start Peony Seeds Outdoors
  • Shovel
  • Garden fork
  • Water
  • Compost or rotted cow manure
  • Peony seeds
  • To Start the Seeds Indoors
  • Plastic bag that can be sealed
  • Seed germination medium such as peat moss, perlite or vermiculite
  • Water
  • 4-in. planting pot, with holes in the bottom for drainage
  • Soil-less planting medium

About the Author


Based in the American Southwest, Bridget Kelly has been writing about gardening and real estate since 2005. Her articles have appeared at Trulia.com, SFGate.com, GardenGuides.com, RE/MAX.com, MarketLeader.com, RealEstate.com, USAToday.com and in "Chicago Agent" magazine, to name a few. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in creative writing.