Planting peonies in pots

Kelways Guide to Herbaceous Peonies

Where to Plant Peonies

Peonies are extremely hardy and adaptable. They grow best in full sun; you can expect fewer flowers in light shade but the blooms will last longer.

Single flowered cultivars seem to do better in shade than doubles. Peonies will grow in most soils provided they are not too wet in the winter. They well on chalk and in fact prefer slightly alkaline conditions. If your soil is acidic include a handful or two of lime at planting. A heavier soil is preferable to a light one, but it is always beneficial to add some organic matter, which will also improve moisture retention if your soil is dry. In exposed and windy areas, taller varieties may need staking.

Planting Your Peony

Good soil preparation before planting will reap rewards in future years.Dig a hole at least 30cm(12in) deep and wide. Mix in some garden compost and a handful of bone meal or general fertiliser. The most important rule is avoid planting too deeply. The top of the crown (the buds) should be no more than 5cm(2in) below the soil surface. Planting too deeply is the most common reason for a peony failing to flower.


Container grown plants are already potted at the correct level, so plant to the same depth. Don’t worry if the compost falls away while you are planting. If you are planting a group of peonies allow about 75cm(30in) between the plants. Flowering normally starts from the 2nd year after planting.

Caring for Established Plants

Peonies will live for 50 years or more; although they can survive considerable neglect, they will reward extra care. In the autumn cut down the dead foliage at ground level and clear it away. Top-dress with a handful of bone meal or general fertiliser. If mulching, avoid smothering the top of the crown or the plants may become too deeply buried and stop flowering. With acidic soils, an occasional top dressing with lime will prove beneficial.

Watch our video below on how to plant herbaceous peonies:

Growing Peonies in Pots

You can successfully grow and flower peonies in pots. Choose a pot at least 30cms (12 ins) in diameter with adequate drainage holes at the base. Use a soil based compost such as John Innes No3. Peonies do not thrive in peat-based composts. Do not overwater, and preferably keep on the dry side. After a few years, plant them in the garden where they will ultimately thrive better.


How do I grow them?


Herbaceous peonies only grow in cool climates with cold winters such
as Tasmania, Victoria and mountain districts – they need cold to help trigger the development of the flower bud. Tree peonies also prefer cold climates but will also grow in cool temperate areas.


Position herbaceous and tree peonies in full sun and shelter from strong winds. In climates with hot summers, a lightly shaded spot is preferable.



Plant in deep, moist and well-drained soil enriched with well-rotted compost and manure. A neutral soil pH is desired by herbaceous peonies but tree peonies prefer a more alkaline soil, so add dolomite lime and fork in well before planting.


Keep soil moist, but never wet. In summer, water to keep soil cool and ensure it doesn’t dry out. Once established (1–2 years), tree peonies are quite drought tolerant, but benefit from regular watering throughout the growing and flowering season.



In late winter, feed herbaceous peonies with a well-balanced fertiliser and remove surrounding weeds. Apply fertiliser again in summer after peonies have finished flowering and you have deadheaded. For tree peonies, feed in winter and late spring with a fertiliser low in nitrogen but high in phosphorus and potassium. This will help encourage strong root growth and flowering.


Peonies don’t like to be disturbed, so choose your location carefully. Prepare the soil by incorporating well-rotted compost and manure (and dolomite lime, if needed) a week prior to planting.

• Herbaceous peonies are sold as bare root rhizomes with a few buds or ‘eyes’ and are best planted in autumn. Dig a shallow hole no more than 5cm deep and firm the base of the hole. Position rhizomes with buds facing upward, backfill and lightly firm soil, then water thoroughly. Plant at least 60cm apart – they like a little space between plants.

• Tree peonies are sold in pots. Dig a hole twice the width of the pot and a little deeper. Remove plant from pot, gently tease out roots and position in hole. Backfill and water thoroughly.



• As herbaceous peonies grow, use a three-legged metal wire support to help support the stems. Look for them at your local garden centre. Don’t be surprised if there are few or no flowers in the first year – the plant is still developing and will flower once it grows into a healthy bush. In late autumn, allow foliage to naturally die down before pruning. When the bush flowers, cut long stems for indoor display or deadhead regularly as flowers fade to encourage more blooms.

• Tree peonies only need pruning to remove dead or broken branches – they should only be pruned as the growing season starts. Apply a generous dose of dolomite lime to the soil every three years and water in well.

Herbaceous vs tree peony

Herbaceous peonies, also known as Chinese peonies (Paeonia lactiflora), are the most commonly grown. They grow from rhizomes, which form a bush about 1m high and flower from late spring into summer, before dying down in autumn. Tree peonies (Paeonia suffruticosa), are a shrubby deciduous plant that grows about 1m tall. They can take up to 10 years to reach full height and do not die down like their herbaceous cousins. Both types of peonies prefer cool to cold climates.


Can Peonies Grow In Pots: How To Grow Peony In A Container

Peonies are blowsy old-fashioned favorites. Their brilliant tones and vigorous petals engage the eye and liven up the landscape. Can peonies grow in pots? Container grown peonies are excellent for the patio but they require a little more care than in ground plants. Choose a big container and come with us to learn how to grow peony in a container.

Can Peonies Grow in Pots?

One of my favorite memories as a child was picking peonies for my grandmother from the big bush that would suddenly appear each year out front. The huge blooms and intense color were her favorite cut bowl blooms. Down the road, apartments were the spaces I had to grow in, and I learned to get really creative.

Container grown peonies were part of the menu, in large brightly colored pots. Care for peony in pots must take into consideration the zone you are in, level at which the tubers are planted and how to retain moisture levels in a container.

More than one small space gardener has gotten desperate enough to try large plants in containers. Many bulbs and tubers do great in containers, provided soil is well draining and some special care is attached. Growing peonies in containers is a great way for small space gardeners to enjoy the plants or for anyone to have a big vigorous colorful bush on their patio.

Choose a container that is at least 1 ½ feet deep and as wide or wider (if it’s already in one, you may need to transfer it to a larger pot). Peonies are large bushes that may grow 4 feet tall or more with a similar spread and they need plenty of room to spread their feet. Make sure the container has plenty of drainage holes to prevent tuber rot.

How to Grow Peony in a Container

Once you have a container, it is time to turn your attention to the soil. Soil must be loose and well draining but also fertile. A composition of 65 percent topsoil and 35 percent perlite will ensure drainage. Alternatively, a mixture of compost and peat moss will create a nurturing environment.

Plant healthy, firm tubers in spring with their eyes up in 1 ½ to 2 inches of soil over the tops. The planting depth is important if you want flowers, as tubers planted deeper often fail to bloom.

You may incorporate some time release granular fertilizer at planting time. Keep the soil evenly moist but not boggy. Once plants are established, they are fairly tolerant of dry periods but containers dry out more quickly than in ground plants, so it is preferable to water when the top few inches of soil is dry.

Care for Peony in Pots

Peonies thrive in pots in United States Department of Agriculture zones 3 to 8. Container grown tubers are more sensitive to freezing than in ground tubers, so it might be a wise idea to move your container indoors for winter to a cool area. This will protect tubers from freezing rain that will damage them.

Other than that, growing peonies in containers is very straightforward. Water when the top few inches is dry, fertilize in spring, and provide some structure for the bush as it grows since the heavy blooms tend to knock over the foliage.

You can choose to divide the tubers every 5 years or so, but disturbing the roots like this will likely delay the next bloom.

Peonies are remarkably resistant to most pests and diseases except rot. These elegant plants are garden friendly spring bloomers that should reward you for decades in containers with huge flowers and deeply cut foliage.


Peony is a flowering plant in the family of Paeoniaceae. It is originated from Asia, Europe, and North Western America and in Mediterranean regions. The plant has large, deeply lobed leaves with fragrant flowers and colors ranging from purple, red, white and yellow. It grows well in spring and late summer season.

Peonies are the most popular garden plants that grow well in moderate climatic conditions. Peonies are purchased as cut flower or bouquets on large scale. They are used as ornamental or decorative flowers and have major applications in perfumes, oils, and powders by crushing petals.

Medicinal Applications

It contains ellagic acid, myricetin, flavones, ethereal oils and crystals of calcium oxalate that are used in cosmetics and medicinal practices to treat skin problem, allergy, black spots, dandruff, and hair fall. It is also used in treating arthritis, aging and muscle cramps.

Peony Plant Varieties

Plant Variety Height Color (flowers)
Herbaceous peonies 1-8 feet Yellow or Gold
Tree peonies 3-7 feet Purple or Red
Intersectional peonies 2.5-3 feet Pink

Can I grow Peony from seeds?

It’s fun to grow peonies and start from seeds in a pot for their beautiful fragrant flowers. The factors that are responsible for the peony plant growth are listed below.

Choose Hybrid Seeds: Pick up the hybrid seeds of peony plant that can produce color variations. Before sowing hybrid seeds in a pot, store them in a cool place i.e. refrigerator and also clean the pot with warm water to get rid of bacteria, dust, and worms. After a week or 10 days take out the seeds and sow them in a pot.

Soil & Temperature: Use well-drain fertile soil in a pot and if the soil is heavy or sandy enrich it with organic matter such as compost. Maintain soil ph to neutral or acidic i.e. 6.5-7. They cannot propagate flowers if the temperature is too hot. To maintain an optimum temperature of 65-70F to grow peonies.

Water & Sunlight: Water peony plants immediately after planting in the soil around the roots. During spring season plant does not require much water and you can water peonies once in 2 weeks. If you place in a shaded area, flowers will not bloom properly. So, make sure the plants get enough sunlight (6/8 hours). Peony seeds germinate within few weeks or months i.e. 10-12 weeks.

Fertilizers: For best results feed peonies in the spring season. Use balanced organic fertilizers high in potassium, nitrogen and bone meal to your loving plants. You can feed peonies in the ratio of 10-10-10 granular fertilizer when the stems reach to a height of 10-15cms. Avoid using lawn fertilizers rich in nitrogen, can damage the flowering.

Pest & Diseases

Pests: mealybugs, foliar nematodes, bulb mites, scales, ants, beetles

Peonies attract insects with their foliage. Ants are mostly seen on peonies as they are attracted to the blossoms. These ants do not harm or benefits peonies compared to other harmful insects that damage the peony plants. Spray pesticides on plants prone to pests and keep them away from spoilage.

Diseases: Powdery mildew, white mold, verticillium wilt, Phytophthora blight, root rot, measles

Bacterial and fungal diseases are due to the lack of nutrients supplied to the plants. It can also be due to the drainage and air circulation. To eliminate plant diseases completely, give them enough nutrients to thrive.

Harvesting: When the flower buds reach a particular size they are ready to harvest. Cut peony flowers at a length of 45-60cms using a sharp knife or scissors. Harvesting time depends upon the peony plant variety. Few plant varieties take 3-5 years time for the flowers to bloom. After harvesting place them in a wooden box and shift it to the cool place too long last flowers that spread beautiful fragrances.

Planting Peony in a Pot from cuttings

Peonies are commonly grown at outdoors. To plant a peony in a pot, pick up the right variety that fits in a pot or large container. Size of the pot should be 6-12 inches and holes at the bottom for proper drainage. Fill (1/2) of the container using peat-based potting mix rich soil. Add water to the soil to maintain moisture levels.

You can also add some compost to the soil for additional nutrients. In the spring season, prefer slow-release nitrogen fertilizers. Water the peonies in sufficient amount and place the pot in sunlight for 6-8 hours a day.

Some peony varieties grow to a height of 3-6 feet and width of 2-4 feet. Maintain the ideal temperature about 65-70F. It keeps the peony plant healthy and encourages flower blooming. Flower blooming and harvesting time depends upon the type of variety you have planted.

Precautions | Tips

  • Do not over-water as it results from the plants to rot.
  • Test the nature of the soil before planting peonies.
  • Use gardening blades to cut the dead stems down to the soil.
  • Dig a hole about 15 inches deep and wide to establish roots comfortably.
  • When you grow peony indoors, place it near a window to receive sunlight.
  • Separate peonies for every year when they are overcrowded in a large container.
  • Water the plant once in a week to maintain the soil moist and not completely wet.
  • Keep pets (dogs and cats) away from peonies as they can spoil beautiful flowers from blooming.

It’s fun to grow and enjoy peonies starting from seeds/cuttings in your garden space that spreads beautiful fragrance, purifies air and keeps surrounding hygiene. If you have wonderful ideas about growing beautiful peonies, please share your experience with us.

Recommended Readings:

  • Camellia Plant Care – How Camellia Plants are Making the Garden a Better Place
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  • Rock trumpet plant – How to Care Mandevilla Vine plant in your Home and Garden
  • Gerbera Daisy Guide – The Only Gerbera Daisy Resources You Will Ever Need
  • Amazing Facts About Tulips That Will Impress Your Friends

We asked her to share her no-nonsense tips for how to grow the perfect blousy peonies…

1. Shallow planting

The best time for planting peonies is between October and March. Some sources advise against planting in December, but in 30 years and eight different gardens, I’ve never noticed a difference. The important thing is how deep you plant them – too deep and they will fail to flower. Herbaceous peonies need to be planted with the eyes (the budding stems) no more than 2cm beneath the surface of the soil.

Claire Austin

2. Make sure you cover the basics

Despite the myths that surround them, peonies are easy plants to grow if the basics are in place. They need plenty of water as long as they don’t get waterlogged at any time in the year, so plant your peonies in soil that drains well. Clay is fine as long as it doesn’t stay wet.

Peonies also love to be in full sun and will flower at their best in that position, but they will tolerate light shade.

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We’re spending another day in the sun surrounded by beautiful flowers today! Come and see us in the Country Living Pavilion #rhsmalvern

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3. Patience is key

Peonies may take three years to hit their stride and be flowering freely, but then they will live for up to 50 years. If you move house, simply take your precious peonies with you and they’ll adapt to new surroundings.

4. Move them at the right time

The best time to move them is when the plant is dormant, sometime between October and March. Dig around the roots, disturbing as little of the rootball as possible and transplant them to their new home. Peonies can even be divided to make new plants when you lift them. Be sure to cut them cleanly with at least three clear eyes (stem buds) on each section.

5. Make sure you cut them properly before arranging them in a vase

Peonies make wonderful cut flowers and last longer in a vase than garden roses – up to 10 days. The blooms are large, soft, silky and romantic.

If you want to grow peonies for cutting, patience is needed. Generally it will take up to 3 years for the most cut varieties to produce enough blooms for cutting. But as the flowers are large, the average vase really only needs one or two flowers to look both beautiful and opulent. Amongst the very best varieties are ‘Monsieur Jules Elie’, pure white ‘Festiva Maxima’ and the famous ‘Sarah Bernhardt’.

6. Know what to do with ants

People often ask how to get rid of ants on peony flower buds. The answer is: don’t. In my experience, ants do no harm. Appearing as the bud swells, they feed on the sugary substance it exudes, and may even help the bud to open properly. As soon as the buds start to open, the ants disappear.

Claire Austin

7. Take a walk on the Intersectional Side!

A quiet revolution has been taking place in the peony world. Breeders have crossed tree peonies with herbaceous peonies to produce what are known as Intersectional peonies.

These new introductions are rare and are more expensive than herbaceous peonies, but they have twice the flowering period, wonderful green, leathery foliage and appear completely disease-free.

My favourite intersectionals include the ‘Bartzella’, which has large, gentle lemon-scented, frilly, yellow flowers with a flare of magenta around the delicate stamens. I also love the ‘Julia Rose’ which has rose-pink flowers with an inner glow of gold emanating from the depth of the petals.

Elena KovyrzinaGetty Images

8. Consider their scent

Many peonies are fragrant. In some varieties the scent is light, in others it is released only after the flowers have been picked and placed in a vase. The scent depends on the time of day, the temperature and, of course, on your nose!

Finally… did you know that peonies are rabbit-proof

If you have rabbits that like nothing better than to nibble from your borders, get planting peonies! Rabbits do not like the taste of plants with large, blousy flowers such as peonies, irises, lupins, oriental poppies and kniphofia, and won’t be tempted to snack on their roots, stems or blooms.

For more information from Claire, visit

How to Grow and Care for the Peony Flower in Containers

Intro: Peonies are easy flowers with large, colorful and wonderfully scented blooms have large, deep root systems, so when growing them in plant containers, make sure to give them a lot of extra room. They can grow down at least 1 foot, so provide a large container for these flowers. Once established, peonies require little maintenance. There are many peony varieties to choose from, and flowers, which bloom in late spring or early summer, can be white, pink, red, yellow, orange, or purple.

Scientific Name: Paeonia species

Plant Type: Perennial flower

Light: Full sun. Afternoon shade is beneficial in warmer climates.

Water: When it comes to watering your peony flowers, keep the potting soil moist but never soggy. The tuberous roots are prone to root rot, so definitely do not overwater. Peonies are drought-resistant.

Zone: Hardy from Zones 3 to 8. These flowers do best in cooler climates.

Fertilizer: Before planting the peony bulbs, mix a generous amount of compost from a vermicomposting bin with the potting soil. Fertilize with a balanced granular fertilizer once a year in the spring.

Pests and Diseases: Peony flowers are very hardy, so you shouldn’t have a problem. Still, watch for garden pests, including scale, mites, mealybugs, thrips and ants. Diseases can include root rot, mold, mildew and more.

Propagation: Grow peonies from bulbs. Peony flowers can be grown from seeds, but it is rarely done. You only need to plant peony bulbs once, as the bulbs can overwinter underground and come back again in the spring. They do best when planted in the fall so they can establish a root system before the spring. Make sure the eyes of the peony tubers are facing upward and that they are covered by about 2 inches of potting soil. Then water thoroughly. Peony plants will bloom best starting in the second year once they have become established.

Misc. Info: Peony flowers do not do well if transplanted. Start them out in a large plant container instead of growing them first in a smaller container and transplanting them later. Peonies also do not do well if you cut their flowers, especially in its first three years. Leave the flowers on the plant. If your peonies are more than three years old, you can cut up to half of the flowers, but be careful to leave as many leaves on the stem as possible. These leaves are essential for storing energy reserves for when the peony goes dormant.

Peony flowers are named after Paeon, who was a student of the Greek god of medicine. Zeus turned Paeon into a peony flower to save him from his teacher, who became very jealous of Paeon.


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Brooks Gardens Peonies

Planting and Care Tips – How to Plant and Grow Peonies

(common questions and answers on planting, growing and caring for peonies).

5 Tips for Growing Better Peonies

What do peony plants need to thrive? These easy care perennials don’t need much attention.

  1. They grow best in USDA zones 2-8 and can last a lifetime.
  2. Well drained soil is a must.
  3. Full sun is great; however, half a day of sun is fine, too. A bit of shade can be beneficial for a longer bloom season.
  4. Plant bare root peonies in the fall – prime peony planting season.
  5. Roots are planted with just an inch or two of soil over the eyes (buds).
  6. Potted peonies may be transplanted in the fall or spring.
  7. Fertilize in early spring.
  8. Deadhead the spent flowers after bloom.

Peonies establish a vigorous root system the first two years after planting. They often flower the first year. The second year they increase in plant and flower size. By their third spring they are maturing and producing an abundance of flowers. Often you can enjoy your peony plants in the same spot for decades – you may never have to divide your peonies (unless you want additional plants to grow or share).

Plant bare root peonies in the fall. We have planted in most months of the year (bare root or from containers); they will grow more feeder roots, faster, when planted from late August through October (or November if you are in a mild fall). I have experimented with planting a few in December and January – they won’t produce much root growth the first months; but, will lay in the ground, ready to grow when the time is right. I take risks with planting if the opportunity arises. I don’t think I have lost any due to time of year planted – just slower establishment of roots the first year. Sometimes getting a root in the ground at the ‘wrong time of year’ works out better than tending to it in a container.

Potted (container) peony plants can be transplanted in the spring or the fall. You can also pot up bare root peonies in the fall or early winter and transplant them in the spring. Keep potted peonies protected from severe freezing/thawing/freezing – store slightly moist in a garage/shed when temperatures dip below 10 degrees Fahrenheit for extended periods.

Where to plant peonies?

  • Peonies love sun – a half day or more of sun (full sun is great) and good drainage for best growth/bloom. A bit of shade is okay and can allow your peonies to open with more intense coloring – just be sure they are getting at least a half day of sun. (Too much shade will produce foliage and little or no peony bloom).
  • Peony plants grow best in the ground; however, some gardeners are planting a peony or two in large patio pots. Use an ample sized container of 10 gallons or larger for best results, as the roots of a peony grow rather large. Be sure it has adequate drainage and remember to water more frequently than a ground planted peony. Peonies will also do well in large raised beds.
  • Peonies grow in a variety of soil types and actually love clay soil that is well drained. You may amend your soil; but, often, there is really no need to do so. Our farm peonies thrive in our well drained, unammended clay soil. If you desire, you may amend your soil to improve the nutrients/organic matter.

How to plant peonies?

  • Prepare the planting site by digging a hole about 15 x 15 inches, then fill the hole back in with the spaded soil. Remove just enough soil to place the root in, so it will sit just below or at ground level.
  • Place the peony root downward at any angle, with the ‘eyes’ (buds) facing upward. The roots are placed near the surface of the ground, with just one inch to two inches of soil on top of the ‘eyes’ (buds). Take care to not plant peony roots too deeply. Think of it as planting your bare root peony ‘just below ground level’ or at ground level with only a couple inches of soil mounded over the root.
  • In warmer climates (The South, California) where peonies can be grown, gardeners report success with planting the peony root near ground level with just a smidge of soil (about one half inch) over the eyes.
  • Some of the Itoh Intersectional peonies have extra large roots with some of their ‘eyes’ on a woody stem. These peony roots may be placed at an angle to fully cover the eyes. Itoh peonies can be planted a bit deeper than other herbaceous peonies.
  • Water your newly planted peony root right away. Be sure to continue watering new peony plants every week or two, providing moisture until the Fall rains take over.
  • Gently check the peony root; if it settled too deeply, lift it up and add additional soil under the root. Be sure it is only covered with one inch to two inches of soil for best results. Planting peonies too deeply can result in foliage growth with no flowers.
  • Newly planted bare root peonies will establish new feeder roots when you plant them in the Fall. The winter freezing temperatures will not affect roots planted in the ground (garden). Peonies like cold winters.
  • Planting peonies in pots/containers requires a very large container with adequate drainage. Be sure the eyes are covered with only one inch to two inches of soil. Water the potted peonies; keep moist – but, let them almost dry out between waterings. Keep potted peonies protected from deep winter freezing. Frost doesn’t harm planted/potted peony plant roots – it’s the prolonged, arctic blast/deep freezing that may affect potted peonies.

How to care for your peonies?

  • Water your new peony plants thoroughly upon planting or transplanting. Water a peony deeply, then let the soil almost dry out between waterings’. Watering first year peony roots/plants every couple of weeks during dry weather, should be adequate. The moisture will help the roots establish.
  • Once the fall/winter rains arrive, you may not need to water your peonies until you have dry weather in the spring/summer.
  • Once a peony plant is several years old, it is fairly drought tolerant; although they do appreciate a good watering every few weeks in hot summers. An established peony plant does not need frequent watering.
  • We use 1/4 cup of fertilizer (10-20-20) around the drip line of our mature peonies early in the spring. You may also fertilize your peony plants after they bloom. Many gardeners do not fertilize their peonies and others fertilize annually. You may want to experiment for best results with your soil.
  • If you are fertilizing potted peonies – be sure to use a slow release fertilizer, as other fertilizers will burn the foliage. We fertilize in early spring, just as plants emerge.
  • Deadhead flower/seed pods after bloom. You may trim your peony stems to shape the bush as it pleases you.
  • If you want to let seed pods mature, leave them on the stems until they crack open in late summer. You can immediately plant the seed in the ground or potting flats and keep moist until the fall rains come. Some seed will germinate the following spring, other seeds will sprout the 2nd spring.
  • Cut peony stems to ground level in the late fall. Remove the stems and leaves from the garden for good sanitation. Do not compost peony leaves and stems.
  • Mulching is not required in the Northwest. Some gardeners in very cold winter climates mulch for the winter – if you do, be sure to remove the mulch in the spring (otherwise, your peony will be ‘planted’ too deeply).

If your peonies lose their vigor over time, check for the following:

  • Mulch or bark dust may have been added seasonally (without springtime removal) and now the root is buried too deeply. There is no need to protect a ground planted peony in our northwest climate – they love the cold winters.
  • Landscape trees/plants may be providing an abundance of shade.
  • Tree roots may have grown through the peony roots, crowding the peony roots.
  • Excessive nitrogen.
  • Or, they may be like some people: they’ve lost their spunk and need reinvigorated. You can re-invigorate your peony by digging, dividing and replanting a division with 3-5 eyes in a different spot that provides good sun and good drainage. They’ll spring back.

The American Peony Society (APS) award designations

American Peony Society (APS) award recipients are listed on our peony descriptions: Gold Medal winners and Award of Landscape Merit peonies. These peonies’ flowers and/or growth habitat have received distinguished recognition from the American Peony Society.

The Award of Landscape Merit (ALM) peonies exhibit superior ornamental value, overall appearance in the landscape and throughout the growing season and reliable performance across North America. The ALM award is in it’s infancy and many other peony varieties worthy of the designation will be evaluated by the APS in the coming years.

Our Brooks Gardens award winning peonies include: Court of Honor for ‘Ave Maria’ peony at the 2013 APS floral exhibit; Court of Honor for ‘Coral Supreme’ peony at the 2012 APS floral exhibit; and, we were honored to receive Best in Show – Grand Champion awards for the peony ‘Bob’ at the 2011 APS floral exhibit. Grand Champion for ‘Lavon’ and Court of Honor for ‘Raspberry Charm’ in 2018.

How to grow peonies

If you want whopping great flowers, de-bud the side shoots in April/May with a sharp knife. I prefer abundance to scale so don’t do this in my garden.


You can cut the odd flower in their first year, but resist cutting too many until the second or, even better, the third year. Always leave at least a quarter of the stems on each plant to photosynthesise and feed the root through summer and early autumn.


Once they’re settled in and have formed decent-sized plants after one or two years, cut your plants back — for best leaf colour hold off until mid November. Burn the old foliage to make sure you’ve got rid of any fungal spores. This reduces the chances of problems with botrytis which can cause peony wilt the following spring. Peony wilt causes the buds to look mouldy and the stems to wilt. Plants can also be moved in autumn.

Conditioning cut flowers

  • Float peonies, flower and all, in deep water in a bath overnight. Even if they’re already looking floppy and sad, most will recover and go on to last more than a week. The flowers can absorb water over their whole petal surface, so the more you can have in contact with the water the better.
  • Peonies are very thirsty – at least to begin with. You must fill up their vase every day for the first three or four days they are inside.

Buy Paeonia lactiflora from the Telegraph Gardenshop.

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