Peony Planting & Care in the Northwest

NW PEONY PLANTING & CARE

Who isn't captivated with the lush blooms of the peony? We still get excited when peonies begin arriving!

Alex LaVilla, our perennials buyer, has a few planting and care tips to help you be sure your peony is as happy and productive as it can be. 

Photo credit: Katherine Anderson

Photo credit: Katherine Anderson

Peonies are not hard to grow, but they do require full sun and fertile, well-drained soil. Annual spring feeding will help assure a plethora of lovely blooms. With proper planting and a little care, your peonies will provide years of beauty and enjoyment with a minimal amount of trouble. 

PLANTING INSTRUCTIONS

Peonies are best planted in the fall, anytime from late September through early December. If you are purchasing a potted plant in spring or summer, it's best to leave the plant in its pot until fall before transplanting. As a temporary measure, you may sink the entire pot in the ground where it is to be planted later, adding an inch or two of gravel to the soil below the pot to ensure proper drainage. 

In fall, follow these planting instructions:

  1. Dig a large hole at least 18" deep and 24" wide. Fill the bottom of the hole with rich, humus-y soil and plenty of compost, composted manure or peat moss.
  2. Add 1-2 cups all-purpose organic fertilizer.
  3. Lightly tamp this mixture and water well.
  4. Carefully remove the plant from it's pot and loosen up any circling or compacted roots.
  5. Place it in the partially filled hole, back-filling with a similar soil mixture as you go. Make sure the top of the plant's bud "eyes" are no more than 2 inches below the top soil level when planting is complete, taking into account any additional mulch layer that you will add.
  6. Water in well to complete the process.
Peonies in bloom at the Seattle Chinese Garden

Peonies in bloom at the Seattle Chinese Garden

CARE FOR ESTABLISHED PLANTS

Spring & Summer

The second spring after planting, top dress 6"-12" from the crown of the plant with an all-purpose organic fertilizer. 

Peonies are relatively drought tolerant once established. Care should be taken, however, to water during periods of active growth in the spring and late summer to ensure proper bud growth.

Fall & Winter

After your peony puts on a marvelous display of color in the fall, cut the browning foliage to the ground and mulch with a couple of inches of compost. Sit back and relax while you wait for an even more beautiful plant next season!

Diseases

Botrytis is the only disease that affects peonies. It is characterized by drooping, blackened or scorched-looking foliage and dried up flower buds. Remove any signs of diseased material from the plant, cleaning your pruners with an alcohol solution between each cut. Do not compost diseased material! Spray the plant with a copper-based fungicide to help control the disease.