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How to Grow Paeonia Plants

Guide to Growing Peonies

The common names for members of the shrubby hardy perennial genus Paeonia is Peony.

These shrubs reach an height of 45 to 100 cm and carry elegant large flowers in the spring time.

Peony flowers can be single or double and come in a large range of colours, especially pink; other colours include yellow, purple, red and white.

Although used by many as a hedging plant, Peonies are attractive so make worthwhile plants to grow in beds.

Guardian of the monastery tree Peony

Paeonia suffruticosa
Paeonia suffruticosa by 陈霆, Ting Chen, Wing

Paeonia lactiflora
Paeonia lactiflora by mick mft.

Quick Paeonia Growing and Care Guide

  • Common Names: Peony
  • Life Cycle: Hardy perennial.
  • Height: 18 to 60 inches (45—150 cm). Shrub.
  • Native: Western parts of North America.
  • Growing Region: Zones 2 to 9 (most species 3 to 8).
  • Flowers: Spring through to early summer.
  • Flower Details: White, red, pink, purple. Single or double. Fragrant.
  • Foliage: Deeply lobed. Compound.
  • Sow Outside: Seeds: Surface. Before the last frost; use seeds pre-chilled for about eight weeks.
    Roots: 1 ½ inches (4 cm) deep in a prepared hole dug to a depth of 20 inches (60 cm) and filled with a mixture of loam and compost. Ensure roots contain at least two eyes, preferably 3 to 5. First two months of autumn for best results.
  • Sow Inside: Mix seeds in a moist growing medium, place in a freezer bag, and then stratify by refrigeration for three weeks. Germination time: one month to one year. Temperature: 50 to 60°F (10—15.5°C). Requires light. Transplant outdoors following the last frost. Spacing 24 to 36 inches (60—90 cm).
  • Requirements and care: Full sunlight, or partial shade in warmer areas. Good drainage. Soil pH 5.5 to 7. Moist, fertile soil. Regular watering. Deadhead. Cut back to the ground in autumn. Moving affects growth so try not to move. Provide an early spring feed, and a second, lighter feed upon blooming. Propagate: by dividing roots (with three to five eyes) in the spring in cooler areas or the autumn in warmer areas.

How to Grow Peony

Peonies can be grown from roots or seeds. First prepare the soil for peony by digging a hole about 45 cm deep and filling with a mix of loam and soil. The roots should be planted about 5 cm deep in the autumn. Peony Seeds should be sown on the surface in the spring before the last frost.

Paeonia can grow in sunny or partly shaded areas and like a deep, moist and fertile soil that is slightly acidic to neutral (pH 5.5 to 7).

If starting peony off indoors do so about 10 weeks in advance (aim to plant the Peony seedlings outdoors following the last frost of spring). First the seeds should be imbibed by placing the seeds (within soil) in a plastic bag, then placing in the fridge for three weeks. Seeds should then be sown out at a temperature of 10 to 15 Celsius in the light; they usually take about one or two months to germinate (but some peony may take as long as a year to germinate).

Once growing transplant the Peony seedlings about 75 to 90 cm apart in the garden. The area that the peony are to be transplanted in should be prepared by digging down to about 45 cm and filling the hole with loam and compost mix.

Caring for Peonies

Paeonia take a little looking after. They should be fertilised (do not use manure) in spring, once new shoots have reached about 30 cm. Once blooming has finished deadhead the Peony flowers and apply another light application of fertiliser. The plants should be cut back to ground level in the autumn.

If you require more peony plants then the roots can be divided in the autumn, ensuring that the root contains two eyes. Do not divide the peony plants often as they take many years to recover.



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