Grow Gorgeous Peonies: Planting, Care, and Why We Love Them

Grow Gorgeous Peonies: Planting, Care, and Why We Love Them

Peonies! Those big, fluffy blooms are the undisputed stars of the late spring garden. Their intoxicating fragrance and stunning colours can transform any space, making them a true gardener's delight. 

But maybe you've heard peonies are fussy and complicated to grow? Not quite true.

With a little know-how, you can cultivate these stunning flowers in your garden. And that's why Terra Plants & Flowers is here! 

So, let's dig in and find out how to grow peonies!

Why Gardeners Love Peonies

  • Peonies are known for their spectacular blooms. Their big, fluffy flowers are indeed a sight to behold. Peonies come in single, double, and even anemone-shaped blooms, offering endless variety for your garden.
  • Easy care. Once established, peonies are relatively low-maintenance plants. They're perfect for busy or beginner gardeners.
  • Long-lasting cut flowers. Peonies are a favourite bouquet choice because they hold their blooms for a surprisingly long time. Bring a touch of peony magic indoors!
  • Fragrance. Many peonies boast a delightful fragrance that fills the garden with a sweet, intoxicating aroma. 
  • Long lifespan. With the proper care, peony plants can live for over 100 years. Imagine enjoying these beauties year after year!

Choosing the Right Peony

There are many, many types of peonies to choose from. In fact, there are 45 species and over 6500 cultivars in The American Peony Society's registry!

So, how do you pick the perfect one for your garden?

Well, it all depends on the type of flower you're going for and your climate. We can't break down all 6500, but here's a look at the three main types of peonies to help you decide.

Woody Peonies

  • Showstopper Shrubs

These beauties are the peacocks of the peony world, boasting enormous blooms (up to 25.5 cm across!) on woody stems that remain above ground year-round. Woody peonies are also called tree peonies, although this is incorrect, as they are actually smaller shrubs.

  • Low-Maintenance Charmers

Despite their impressive flowers, tree peonies are surprisingly low-maintenance. They don't require frequent watering and are generally pest- and disease-resistant.

  • Something to Consider

Tree peonies prefer a bit of afternoon shade, especially in hot climates. Once established, they like to stay put, so choose your planting spot carefully.

Herbaceous Peonies

  • Classic Favourites

These are the quintessential peonies, with their lush green foliage that dies down to the ground each winter. Come spring, they erupt in a magnificent display of blooms that last for 7 to 10 days.

  • Tough and Unfussy

Herbaceous peonies are the ultimate low-maintenance perennials. They're cold-hardy, require minimal watering, and can thrive in the same spot for decades!

  • Sun Worshippers

Herbaceous peonies need at least 5 to 6 hours of direct sunlight each day to flower their best. So, find a nice sunny spot in your garden where they can enjoy soaking up the sun's warmth.

Itoh Peonies

  • The Best of Both Worlds

These exciting newcomers combine the best features of woody peonies (gorgeous blooms) with the herbaceous type's easygoing nature. They die back in winter but return in spring with stunning flowers that last weeks.

  • Heat Tolerant Stars

Unlike woody peonies, Itohs can handle some afternoon heat, making them a good choice for gardeners in warmer climates. They're also relatively hardy and disease-resistant—an excellent option for beginners!

  • Blooming Extravaganza

If you crave extended colour, Itohs are your champions! They can bloom for 3 to 4 weeks, putting on a dazzling floral display that will leave you breathless.

How to Grow Peonies

Here's our quick planting peonies guide. Following these easy tips will have your garden (indoor or outdoor) bloom-ready in no time! 

It’s best to plant peonies in the fall when the weather is cool, and the soil is still warm. Aim to plant them between September and November.

  • Choose a location. When picking a spot, aim for one that gets a good 6 to 8 hours of sunlight every day. Peonies also prefer well-drained soil.
  • Dig a hole. To plant your peony, dig a hole twice the diameter of the peony root and about 45 cm deep.
  • Amend the soil. Mix some compost or manure into the soil you removed from the hole. This will help improve the drainage and provide nutrients for your peony.
  • Position the root. Place the peony root in the hole with the "eyes" (the tiny buds on the root) facing upwards and positioned no more than 2 to 5 cm below the soil surface.
  • Fill the hole. Fill the hole with the amended soil and water it thoroughly. Also add mulch around the base of the plant to retain moisture and suppress weeds.
  • Be patient. Peonies need time to feel at home in their new house fully. It may take a few seasons for them to really start blooming to their full abilities. 

Peony Care

Once planted, your peonies will require minimal care. However, minimal does not equal no care. Here's a basic peony care guide. 

  • Watering. Water your peonies regularly during their first year, especially during dry periods. Once settled in, they can handle dry conditions quite well.
  • Fertilizing. You can give your peonies a light feeding in the early spring with a balanced fertilizer.
  • Staking. Some types of peonies, especially those with large blooms, may require support so they don’t flop over. Use stakes and plant ties to hold the stems upright gently.
  • Deadheading. After the flowers have finished blooming, you can help the plant focus its energy on growing strong roots by removing the faded flower heads. Don't cut back the leaves, though. They're essential for photosynthesis and storing energy for next year's blooms.

Common Peony Problems

Although peonies are generally quite disease-resistant, there are a few common problems to watch out for.

  • Botrytis blight. This fungal disease, also called grey mould, can cause the buds to rot and the leaves to develop brown spots. To help prevent botrytis blight, ensure there's good air circulation and avoid watering from above.
  • Aphids. These tiny insects suck the sap out of your peonies. Insecticidal soap or neem oil spray can be used to control them.

Some Blooming Magic for Your Life

With a little effort, you can enjoy the beauty and fragrance of peonies in your garden. 

However, if you don't feel like waiting for these beauties to bloom or prefer your soil with a deck over it, visit Terra Plants & Flowers. We have stunning bouquets and offer same-day delivery in the Greater Ottawa Area. 

So, stop by or browse our online selection to add a bit of flowery bliss to your home today!