Q What conditions do peonies like?
A Peonies like a spot in full sun where the soil is fertile and free draining.
Caption: Paeonia 'Scarlett O'Hara'
Q How should I plant peonies?
A For the best results, plant bare-root plants in autumn. Larger bare roots with more ‘eyes’ (shoot buds) will establish and flower sooner. Plant them so that the shoot buds are 5cm below soil level. Erring on the side of planting slightly deeper may be better than planting too shallowly.
They enjoy a sunny spot in any soils, as long as it's not waterlogged. Try to avoid packing them in among other plants as good airflow helps to avoid fungal diseases.
Pot-grown plants should be planted to the same depth as the soil in the pot. To avoid problems with establishment and flowering, and to get the best results, we strongly recommend planting bare-root plants in autumn. Buying larger bare roots with more ‘eyes’ (shoot buds) will give you a more mature plant that will flower sooner. If you do buy peonies in pots, we suggest planting them in spring.
Water plants during dry spells in the first year while they’re establishing.
Caption: We recommend bare-root plants
Q How should I care for my peonies?
A Put plant supports in place in spring. Circular spiral or grid supports work best. If feeding is required, use a balanced fertiliser, such as Growmore, or a potassium-rich one, such as Vitax Q4. Avoid high-nitrogen feeds. Established plants will be drought tolerant, but dry spring weather can affect flowering. It’s worth watering them in this situation. Cut back the dead stems in autumn.
Caption: Cut back the stems to ground level in autumn or winter
Q How can I move my plants?
A To move plants, lift them carefully in autumn or winter. Try to avoid damaging the roots and replant straight away at the right depth. Keep plants well watered during the first year while they settle in.
Q How do I propagate peonies?
A Take an Irish cutting by leaving on last year’s dead foliage till February or March, then taking hold of the dead stem and pulling it sharply backwards, at 180 degrees to the way it was lying. What usually happens is that the dead stem (which is very strong) comes away with a basal bud and a chunk of root. Cut off the old stem, leaving a couple of inches of leg, and pot up the rest. Label it. You don’t need a greenhouse, as the peony has been outside, but you’ll need to prevent it drying unduly; put it somewhere shady until the root has filled the pot and you can plant it out
Caption: Take cuttings in February or March
Q Which pests and diseases affect peonies?
A Peonies can suffer from the fungal disease peony wilt – a type of grey mould. In spring or early summer, dead areas develop in leaves which then collapse, and stems rot just below the bud.
Plants can die back because of the fungal disease verticillium wilt, which affects roots, and they are susceptible to honey fungus. There are no treatments for either of these problems.