NW Peony Planting & Care
Swansons offers a wide selection of Peony varieties for the Northwest garden. Peonies require full sun in fertile, well-drained soil with adequate feeding. With proper planting and a little care, your peonies will provide years of beauty and enjoyment with a minimal amount of trouble.
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, 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. Add 1-2 cups all-purpose organic fertilizer. Lightly tamp this mixture and water well. Carefully remove the plant from it's pot and loosen up any circling or compacted roots. 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. Water in well to complete the process.
Care for established plants
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.
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.
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!