Peony care – planting and watering tips
To start, peonies need three months of good heavy settled frosts over winter to make the plant flower in late Spring. They need full sun in Spring and Summer to help the buds develop and open.
Peonies are classic garden plants that add a bit of nostalgia and charm to the garden. Their fragrant blooms and lush foliage have made them popular for years and with the recent resurgence in breeding, they will continue to improve. Peonies are simple to grow and can be utilized in many ways, including mass plantings, specimens, or hedges. By choosing a mixture of early, midseason, and late blooming varieties, you can have blooms for up to 6 weeks.
When planting bare root or pot-grown peonies, give each clump a sunny exposed spot in the garden that’s at least three feet in diameter and well away from tree roots, fences and house shade. Peonies need frost over winter, so they do better out in the open. Peony plants dry off and die back from Autumn. They are not dead, just dormant. they will shoot again in Spring.
Bareroot peonies for winter planting come as thick brown tuberous roots with three to five eyes – the small, reddish buds near the top.
If the peony roots seem a little dry when you get them, soak them overnight in a bucket of water before planting.
To plant, dig a hole large enough to spread the roots and incorporate well-rotted organic matter.
If you are planting bare root stock, place the roots in ground so that the eyes are just below the soil’s surface but covered. Slightly raised is better than too deep. Backfill with the remaining soil and water well. Planting too deeply results in fewer flowers or no flowers.
If you are planting a container-grown plant, place it in the planting hole so that the soil level in the container is even with the level in the bed.
Peonies like well-drained soil – standing water is fatal – and they are quite drought resistant. However, newly planted clumps do need regular watering in their first summer. Be sure to water them in dry springs and in summer if conditions are very hot and dry.