Peonies Guide: How to Grow & Care for “Peony Flowers”

Our Complete guide to Peonies for everything you will ever need to know! Tips for planting & caring for “Peony Flowers”

We all know how hard it is to part ways with our beloved houseplants at some point. But this is not the case with Peonies! These stunning plants will be on your side for longer than you could imagine, so get ready for undying loyalty and good memories!

They can live for up to 100 years old and many people usually pass them on from one generation to another.

Peonies are native to several regions of Europe, Asia, and Western North America. Due to their mesmerizing blossoms and easy-going style, they have become one of the most popular ornamental plants worldwide. The best thing about these flowers is their versatility. Although many growers prefer their Peonies in a garden setting, you can also grow them indoors in cute pots without much effort on your part.

About Peonies

  • They are the 12th wedding anniversary flowers, a floral symbol of China, and the state flower of Indiana. The Chinese name for Peonies flowers is ”sho yu” which means ”most beautiful”.
  • The cultivars ‘Bartzella’ and ‘Coral Charm’ along with the hybrids P. × festiva ‘Rubra Plena’ and P. × lemoinei ‘High Noon’ have gained the prestigious Award of Garden Merit.
  • In the language of flowers, Peonies are a symbol of wealth and honor. They also represent love, romance, and the omen of happy marriages and good fortune.
  • These flowers got their name after Paeon who was a pupil of Asclepius, the Greek god of healing and medicine. When Asclepius became jealous of Paeon, Zeus saved his student by turning him into a Peony flower.
  • In traditional Chinese, Japanese, and Korean medicine, Peonies are one of the oldest remedies. People valued their roots for their ability to treat various conditions like convulsions.
  • According to Ancient Chinese texts, several people used these plants for flavoring food. Some say that Confucius enjoyed their unique flavor and ate almost anything with a sauce prepared from Peonies flowers.
  • In the Middle Ages, people used an infusion of petals known as Peony water for drinking. Nowadays, many still add them in tea, salads, lemonades, or punches.
  • Although not poisonous to humans, most parts of these plants are pretty toxic to pets. You should grow Peonies in a place where your curious furry friends cannot reach them.
peonies growing in the garden
peonies growing in the garden

Peonies Features: An Overview

  • They belong to the Paeonia genus that contains about 25 to 40 distinguished species of flowering plants. It is the only genus in the Paeoniaceae family.
  • In general, Peonies are herbaceous perennial plants that can reach between 1 and 3 feet (0.25-1 m) in height. Some species can be woody shrubs that grow up to 11 feet (3.5 m) tall.
  • Their foliage consists of large, glossy, green, and somewhat divided leaves. They appear on annual, thick, greenish-red to brown, and wood-like stems. A few varieties like P. tenuifolia have fern-like leaves.
  • These plants come along with tubers composed of numerous thin and thick storage roots. They absorb water and nutrients, storing them for a long period.
  • During their blooming season, from late spring to early summer, Peonies produce many showy, single/clustered blossoms. They have a relatively short flowering period that lasts only from 7 to 10 days.
  • Their flowers are often highly fragrant and exhibit a wide range of colors. They usually come in various shades of white, yellow, red, pink, or purple. Some species also bring interesting and hypnotic color mixes.
  • Peonies will look great as companions to other species of flowering plants including Alliums, Bleeding Heart, Camellias, Columbines, Daffodils, Foxgloves, Hydrangeas, Irises, Lavender, Roses, and many more.

Growing Peonies

It is safe to say that Peonies are one of the easiest flowering plants to grow and care for, especially for beginners. As long as you plant them in a nice spot and a soil that meets their requirements, they will be your friendly companions for decades. After all, what can be more rewarding than still having these alluring flowers around in your late years?

In both indoor and outdoor settings, Peonies thrive in locations where they can receive at least six hours of bright and direct light daily. And a full day of sunlight is even better and always welcome! If you cannot provide your plants with enough sunlight, they will exhibit smaller and fewer blossoms.

Pink Peony Bush
Pink Peony Bush

When it comes to temperatures, Peonies do well in regions with cooler climates, such as hardiness zones 3 to 8. These plants need at least a month of winter chilling (32 °F/0 °C or a bit lower) to help them induce dormancy. Moreover, if you want your beauties to bloom nicely, make sure you avoid too much heat and humidity during their flowering period.

In general, Peonies are not the main attraction for common pests. From plants that grow in poor lighting conditions, however, you can expect some problematic fungal diseases like gray mold or botrytis. It is also possible to experience fungal problems in over-crowded Peonies.

To prevent any infection from happening, many gardeners prefer to plant their Peonies in well-lit locations and space them at 3-4 inches (8-10 cm) one from another. If your plants are already infected, trim back the foliage regularly to give them plenty of room for air circulation.

Planting Peonies

Peonies are one of the longest-lived ornamental plants out there and they can grow in the same spot for up to 70 years. If you want to give your plants the time of their life, you must choose their growing medium wisely. Although these plants are very easy-going and adaptable, they prefer slightly acidic soils with excellent drainage.

For optimal growth, plant your Peonies in a commercial garden or potting mix designed for rhododendrons and azaleas. You can also grow these flowers in a heavy, clay substrate, but only if you amend it with compost to improve drainage.

Peonies can do just fine without frequent fertilizing. However, they will benefit from an annual feeding right after their blooming period has come to an end. Prepare a mixture of compost and a very small quantity of all-purpose nitrogen-low fertilizer, and apply it at the base of your Peonies without touching the foliage.

Potted Peonies tend to outgrow their containers with time, so they may require repotting once every 3 years. These flowers respond best to transplanting in autumn when the blooming season has ended. The most challenging aspect of this process is handling their delicate roots, but this should not keep you from learning something new!

First things first, you must look for a new pot that is one size larger than the current one and fill it with fresh potting soil. Secondly, water your Peonies one or two days before repotting to make the process easier for you. If you follow these useful tips and handle the plants carefully along the way, you will encounter no trouble in the next growing seasons.

Watering Peonies

Big lovers of moisture, Peonies demand relatively wet environments and regular watering to grow healthy and happy. If you live in a region with frequent rainfalls, your outdoor plants will do well without any extra effort on your part. In hot and dry climates, however, these flowers will behave a bit differently. They are not so drought-tolerant, so you cannot always count on the weather to spoil your plants.

No worries, we are here to help you plan a suitable watering routine for thriving plants! Typically, Peonies have a great time when they receive 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm) of water weekly. You can also mulch your beloved plants to make sure they retain water properly and even improve drainage.

Propagating Peonies

Fallen in love already and want more Peonies around? Well, this should be more than enough to motivate you to propagate them. And no worries, gardener! Although Peonies have fragile roots and you must handle them with care, they are not so hard to deal with. In fact, if you follow some basic steps, you will find that propagating Peonies is rather fast and easy.

The only method of propagating Peonies that shows nice results is division. You can propagate these flowers in fall or very early spring before new growth. In the beginning, you should dig out the soil around your plants using a sharp spade. Be careful, though, because the last thing we want to do is damaging the propagation material−their roots.

Pink French Peony Ranunculus Bulbs, From Amazon

Remove the tubers (roots) out of the ground gently, then rinse them in water until they are perfectly clean. After this process, place the roots in a shaded location to allow them to soften up a little. Look for healthy crown buds and cut the roots all the way down to 6 inches (15 cm) from them. Make sure each divided piece has at least one crown bud because that is the exact spot from where new growth will emerge.

Once you have your divided Peonies, plant them in fresh soil and avoid over-crowding. As a general rule, the crown buds should not be dug deeper than 2 inches (5 cm) in the soil. If you place the tiny divisions in a well-lit location and keep their soil moist, they will show signs of growth after 4-6 weeks.

In Conclusion

Growing and caring for Peonies can be piece of cake as long as you pay attention to their particular demands. Without a doubt, they are one of the most exciting flowers to have in your plant family. And, boy oh, boy, they will be around for a very long time!

Ready to start growing Peonies? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Miruna is an experienced content writer with a passion for gardening. She is the proud owner of an outdoor rose garden and an indoor collection of tiny succulents. She bought her first succulent 10 years ago - an adorable Echeveria Setosa. Now she owns more than 100 succulents and cacti of different colors, shapes, and sizes. Miruna is a versatile writer and, as you might have guessed, her favorite topic is gardening. Contact

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