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Growing Peony Bushes – How To Keep Peonies Blooming Year After Year

When it comes to growing peony bushes, there are a few key planting and maintenance tips that make all the difference in helping to keep bushes blooming big year after year.

Peonies have one of the most intricate and attractive flowers you will ever find on a perennial plant. They have been admired and prized for centuries for their distinctively, fragrant blooms.

Once established, peony bushes can grow for 50 years or more.
The blooms of a peony bush are truly one of a kind.

And can these bushes ever last. Once established, peonies can survive for decades. In fact, a single peony bush can live and bloom without issue for 50 to 60 years or more!

Making them even more appealing, they grow in a wide array of blooming colors that match nearly any landscape.

Growing Peonies

Once established, peonies are a relatively low-maintenance, easy-care perennial bush.

But for some, that initial “establishing” effort can certainly be a challenge. Especially when it comes to getting the bushes to bloom.

growing peonies - cut flowers
Growing peonies in your landscape is a great way to have beautiful cut flowers each spring.

When there are problems, the struggles can usually be traced back to one of three key factors:

  • Trying to grow peonies in too warm of a climate
  • Improper planting / location
  • Failing to cut back the bushes in the fall

With that in mind, here is a look at where to grow and how to plant peony bushes, and how to maintain them as well.

Growing In Warm Climates

Peony bushes prefer to be grow in cooler climates with cold winter temperatures. The cold of winter helps to create stronger and more bountiful buds for the coming year.

If you have warm or mild winters and hot summers, it can be quite difficult to get plants to survive. And even less likely to get them to bloom with any consistency.

peonies growing through the soil
A new peony shoot coming up through the soil in early spring.

Although peonies can survive in growing zones 3 through 8, they will always thrive more in climates with more frigid winters.

Growing Peony Bushes – How To Plant For Success

If you are fortunate enough to live in a climate peonies love, planting them in the right space and place is the first step to long-term success.

Although they can handle all-day sun, peonies perform best when they receive light early in the day. When planting, select a location that receives morning sun, and at least 6 to 8 hours of total sunlight.

perennial flowers
Peony bushes need at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight to bloom – with morning sunlight being the best of all.

They should also be located away from large trees and shrubs to prevent root and nutrient competition.

Give Them Space

Peonies bushes grow large over time. In fact, mature bushes easily reach three to five feet in diameter. With this in mind, allow for plenty of future growing space when planting.

One of the best features of a peony bush is that once established, it requires little care to continue flowering. It can take up to 3 years of growth to reach full blooming potential. But beyond that, there is no need for digging or dividing to keep it blooming.

blooming perennials
Unlike many perennials, peony bushes do not need to be divided to continue blooming year after year.

Planting and Growing Peony Bushes

It is actually better to plant peonies in the fall vs. the spring. Planting in the fall allows the bush time to become established before going dormant. But more importantly, it also allows it to store up energy for the following year’s blooms.

Although spring-planted peonies will survive, the stress of the growing can be hard on plant’s blooming cycle. For this reason, most spring-planted peony bushes blooms are delayed by a full year compared to fall planted peonies.

Proper Planting Depth

When planting, how deep you plant is as important as when and where you plant. If peony bushes are planted too deep, they simply won’t bloom.

planting instructions
Planting or dividing peony bushes is best done in the fall, and not the spring.

To plant, being by amending the soil with a generous amount of compost. This will help loosed the soil and allow the roots to establish easily.

Next, set the plant in the hole making sure the top of the plant’s soil is at the same level as the top of the existing soil. As you plant, also be careful not to cut or sever any roots.

Finish by mulching with a few inches of mulch 12 to 18″ around the base of the plant. Product Link : Rose of Sharon Peony Bush

Fall Care

To keep blooms coming back in full force each spring, it is vital to cut back the foliage in the fall. Cutting back allows the peony bush to concentrate its energy into the following years blooms.

Fall is also the time to divide and split if you are looking to create more plants. When digging up, slip apart into sections with at least three or four roots to each transplant.

Simply replant with the roots in the top level of the soil, again being careful not to plant too deeply.

Here is to growing gorgeous peony bushes n your landscape. And keeping them blooming big year after year! For more advice on growing perennials, check out our Perennials Section on the blog.

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