I’ve decided that Peonies are romantic flowers. As with any great love story, they start slowly and build over time until they burst into the most lush and fragrant flowers. A few years ago, my girlfriend Alexi, texted me from a garden nursery. She had found a great deal on peony plants and wanted to know if she could pick some up for me. I had never grown them before but wanted to give it a try. I had no idea that I would fall so hard for a flower.
Fast forward to this spring, and the once modest plants have multiplied and confidently taken center stage in the middle of my garden. I have both white and light pink and I tend to leave most of the white flowers outside because I love seeing the white peonies when I pull up to our home. As soon as the pink ones bloom, I cut them and bring them inside to enjoy. I wanted to share photos of my garden with before and after images of the peonies and provide some basic planting tips for these beautiful, carefree flowers.
Here are the basics you need to know about growing peonies:
Peonies grow in USDA Hardiness Zones 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8 the link will allow you to enter the state you live in and tell you what zone you are located. Before you plant, make a note about where and how long the sun shines around your property. To do this, walk around your property at 10am, 12pm, 2pm and 4pm and make a little map that notes where the sun hits. Peonies like full sun (6 hours of unfiltered light), but do fine in part sun.
My modest garden gets about 3-4 hours of morning sun and the peonies been thriving. They prefer moist, well drained soil – which means that you want soil that is loose versus clay-like. Pick the spot carefully because once planted, peonies don’t like to be moved. They actually thrive on neglect once you have them established! Peonies do not like to be moved once they have been planted, just something to keep in mind.
For young plants, I think it is important to use garden stakes or three-legged metal rings (ask your local garden nursery). During the first few years, the blooms are so large and heavy and the young stems can’t support the weight of the flower. I staked mine for about 4 years and this year was the first year that they were able to stand up on their own. When the peonies are fading, deadhead them (cut the flower off) this promotes growth of the other buds on the plant. In the fall, you can cut them all the way to the ground.