How to Grow Peony Plants, or Peonies
Thick and lush leaves. Big, bright, showy flowers. These are the two most
common descriptions of peonies.Oh, we forgot the word "popular". Big, lush
peony plants with big, bright, showy flowers are very popular with home
Peonies have their "roots' in two areas of the world. "Common Peonies" originated
in southern Europe. Any idea where the "Chinese Peony" originated? Tree peonies
come from China, too. The Chinese peonies have double blooms and are
more fragrant than their european cousins. Peonies are perennial plants,
and grow quickly. They produce colorful, showy blooms in late spring to early
There is a wide range of colors to choose from, including white, red, crimson,
yellow, and rose.
Peonies are grown from roots. The roots develop "eyes" which in turn grow
into a new Peony. When transplanting roots from an existing plant, make sure
there are at least a couple eyes on the roots.
How to Grow Peony Plants:
Peonies like rich, well drained soil, and full sun. Add plenty of compost
and well rotted manure prior to planting, and again each fall.
Plant roots with eyes 1"-2" deep. Space plants a minimum of 24"-36" apart.
The plants will grow fairly quickly to their full height, and bloom in the
spring to late fall. Make sure to provide water during periods of drought.
Add a general purpose fertilizer a couple of times a year. Use a fertilizer
high in Phosphorus about two weeks prior to blooming.
Peonies produce a thick, lush plant. If the plant appears too bushy, trim
and thin to improve air circulation. This will help to avoid plant disease
that can harbor in the dark, humid areas of this dense plant..
The profusion of leaves and flowers can cause the plants to fall over, spoiling
the beauty of the bloom. Make sure to support the plants with garden stakes
In the fall, trim the plant back. If it has experienced plant disease,
you can trim it back to the ground. Remove and dispose of any diseased
leaves and stems.
Add a covering of mulch in the fall in areas where there is little or no
After a few years, the clumps of roots can get too thick and may require
digging them up and removing some of the roots. A sure sign of the need for
thinning the roots, is smaller flower blooms. Chances are, your friends will
appreciate your delivery of roots from your favorite plants.
Insect and Disease:
Peonies usually have few insect problems. The presence of ants is common.
They are attracted to the sweet flower buds. Ants do not hurt the plant.
There are many plant diseases that can affect your plant. These include blights,
leaf and stem spots, wilts, molds, and viral disease. Treat plants early
with a fungicide. Better still, apply fungicides early in the season
before disease occurs. Repeat applications as indicated on the fungicide
Ancient Chinese used parts, of the peony plant, primarily the roots, for
treatment of fever, muscle cramps, liver ailments, atherosclerosis, hepatitis,
and even PMS!
While ancient cultures used peonies in medicine, it is listed as a
poisonous plant. See
Peonies from Ohio State University Extension
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