Growing Tips for Peonies

I adore peonies. Especially the fern peonies! I have a beautiful pale pink peony that I received from a friend’s garden and I think of her each spring when it blooms.

I’ve always pronounced this word, pee-oh-nee, with the emphasis on the second syllable. When I moved to this small, Czech community, I’ve heard it pronounced with the emphasis on the first syllable. How do you pronounce it?

Follow these growing tips for beautiful, long-lasting plants and flowers:

  • Peonies like sun – when you’re planting these beauties be mindful of where you plant them. Don’t place them near trees that will grow and shade them. It’s important to plan ahead since they DON’T like being transplanted; 6-7 foot long roots makes moving them difficult.Peony | | Paula Bonelli, Midwest Regional Reporter
  • Peonies like well-drained soil – they don’t like wet feet!
  • Peonies like good food – fertilize them once a year in the spring while they are growing.
  • Peonies like a trim – in the fall (after first frost), you can cut it back to the ground. When the foliage begins turning brown, the plant is finished storing food for next year’s growth.
  • Peonies like support – stake tall varieties. The heavy blossoms tend to droop toward the ground and will welcome a bit of extra support. A ring-type support works great.
  • Peonies don’t mind ants – and neither should you. :-) Ants sip the nectar from the buds, but do not harm the plant. If you’d like to snip blossoms, gently shake the ants off before bringing indoors.

Tips adapted from article by Sarah Rummery, horticulturist at Reiman Gardens in Ames, Iowa.

More growing tips about peonies and other old-fashioned flower favorites.

  1. LOIS MEADE says


    • Carolyn Hines says

      Florida is really too hot for peonies. Don’t see them much farther south than mid-Georgia.

      • Paula says

        Hi Lois –
        Peonies do require a long cold spell with temperatures below 40°. It’s best to grow selections that are more suited to your climate. Here are some varieties for Zone 8 and some will be fine in Zone 9.

        Festiva Maxima
        Pink Hawaiian
        Raspberry Sundae
        Sarah Bernhardt

        Plant them in the coolest location – north side if possible. They should get at least a 1/2 day of sun. You may have more success with tree peonies. Their woody stems do not go dormant. You can do a bit of research to find the best varieties for your warm climate or ask your local nursery/garden center.

  2. says

    In the area of SD I live, it is pronounced with emphasis on the first syllable. I’ve never had peonies open if they didn’t have ants crawling on them so I believe ants do have at least one good use.

  3. Carolyn Hines says

    More on peonies and why they are not grown past zone 8–they need cold winters in order to flower, and you lucky Florida dwellers don’t have that!

  4. Jim Fronek says

    What should one do, to keep the weeds out from around the base of the Peony plant? I snip off the small buds around the large bud, so it shows one large flower, rather then a bunch of small flowers. Illinois.

  5. Kathy Woodward says

    I have peony plants that belonged to my grandmother. She lived Iowa and when the farm was sold after her death we dug up quite a few and moved them to N. Carolina. They are the most beautiful flowers! I have light pink which smell incredible and several other shades of pink. I’ve also purchased several to add to the peony bed. I’m looking for a white. They love N.Carolina as do I!

    • Paula says

      How wonderful. Heritage plants as you describe fill my yard. What a neat thing. It makes me think of the person each time I see them. Wonderful memories.

    • Pat Daugherty says

      Kathy, I, too, got my peoonies from my granmother’s yard in Iowa…Then got some mroe from those we had transplanted out at the cemetery in Iowa…I love them and when they bloom, I think of her each year. I do have several hsades of pink from very deep dark pink to very light-almost white shades. They seem to all do well here in my Kansas gardens. I, also, did the same thing with the iris from Grandma’s and then again from my mother’s house before we sold it when she passed. I have several different shades of those and also brings back wonderful memories of the ‘home’ in Iowa.

      Pat Daugherty

  6. evelyn says

    The one year my mom successfully got the ants off her peony bush in Kansas; NONE of the peonies opened. Our extension office said that is the purpose of the ant on the peony, so leave them alone to do their job. Such pretty flowers.

  7. Nan says

    We had so much fun for my daughter’s late June wedding last year. She wanted peonies from home but the date was a month late for prime peonies. A friend of mine advised me to cut stems when color began showing on the buds. Then we dipped the cut end in melted wax and wrapped them in a damp paper towel;stuck them in a plastic bag and placed in the fridge. A couple of days before the wedding, we clipped the waxy end off the stem and placed the flower in water on the table. We had 3 dozen “free”fragrant blooms from home! I plan to try this with other flowers this spring.

  8. Kimberly says

    I live near Wichita, KS, and have had peonies for 3years that grow to about 8 inches tall but never develop buds or blossoms. They just quit growing, even if I miracle grow them. Any suggestions?

    • Eileen says

      Maybe you have them planted too deep? I had some at my old house that I just put on top of the ground,packed a little dirt around them,should have seen them the next year.They were about 2feet tall.I planted them on the south side of a white garage,don’t know if that had anything to do with them growing so tall or not.

  9. Denise says

    I have a 50′ row of 18 peony. Over the past couple years, 5 of them have become smaller and smaller, threatening to disappear completely. Any suggestions or are they lost to me. They are fertilized in the spring and have an aged compost mulch every other year or as needed.

  10. Cathy says

    And here I thought I was the only one . My peonies are over 100 yrs old from the original plants. Still beautiful but the flowers last fewer days as the years go.

  11. says

    Hi…A great mystery…have many peony varieties. lots are seven years old. I have always collected seeds at the end of the season here in Pa and given them away. This las season I had huge blooms and profusely blooming plants. Went on a trip and when I came back there was not one seed pod on at least 100 plants of different varieties. Is it possible that nature did not let t he seed pods develop. I am beginning to feel very uncomfortable thinking that passers by attracted to the beauty or perhaps my veryneighbors who I have always trusted, are pinching my seeds while I am gone. Please let me know what you think. thanks Chella

  12. says

    I live in Florida now but I moved here from Indiana. I miss my peonies so much. I was wondering if I put the roots in my refrigerator or freezer until about Jan. or Feb. as we have several nights of 35 degrees and reach into the 60’s during the day. I’m desperate to have some peonies, I’ll appreciate any help from you. Thank so much, Beverly from Punta Gorda, Fl.


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