Grow Peonies for Beautiful Blooms and Bouquets from your Garden
The best time to plant peonies was 3 years ago, the second best time is now
The beautiful peony flowers that we all love and admire are easy to grow, with the correct siting and planting, they require very little from you. However, they require patience, they are a perennial which means they will keep coming back year after year in zones 3-8, but the first 3 years are really devoted to putting down a good root system. Your peonies will give you some flowers in the first years, some people say to leave them on the plant, others cut them to enjoy inside, but cut only a short stem leaving the leaves for the plant to use as energy for that root system.
Since peonies need time to establish themselves, if you haven't already planted peonies or haven't planted all the peony varieties you would like to, your future self will thank you for planting them this season, getting you one step closer to harvesting your own beautiful blooms off your peony plants
My earliest memories of peonies
Insert picture here of a little girl, about 5 years old, standing in front of the flower garden beside her mother, admiring the row of peony plants heavily laden with billowing pink flowers. That is my earliest memory of peonies, my mom went on to tell me that her mother had planted these peonies when she and my grandpa were raising a family on the farm where my mom and dad now lived.
The peonies had been growing for tens of years, and from that time on every year they put on a show of beautiful bubble gum pink flowers in the spring. I am sure I picked a few, but Mom liked to keep her flowers in the garden, a tradition I have not followed!
When I was about 15, Mom and I dug up those peony plants, divided them and transplanted them to a new sunny wildflower garden she was making. If I remember correctly, we divided 5 plants into 60 to make a nice semi-circular border around her new garden, years later when I got married, I stood in front of that garden for our wedding pictures.
Peonies will go on to give you up to 30 flowers per plant
Fast forward 17 years, my mother-in-law who is also a gardener, gave me a giant vase full of white Festiva Maxima peonies after I had my first May baby. She had planted peonies about 15 years prior and every year she cut and gave away armloads of peonies from those plants.
A year or so after having Bo, my May baby, my mother-in-law invited me to dig up a few of her peony plants, which I gladly did, this was right when I was getting into my flower farming journey. I divided those massive plants into 2-3 eye roots and now have a long row of white peonies that I will always remember Bo and my mother-in-law by.
At first the peonies gave only a few flowers, every year they give more and more, and this year, their 4th year I should be able to harvest quite a few peonies from my plants, by the time Bo gets married I will be swimming in peonies each spring. And you can be sure any of my daughters or daughters-in-law that have May babies will be getting a huge vase full of peonies from these very special plants.
Of course, once my own children on living on their own, I will ask them if they want to dig up a few peonies to divide and transplant to start their own garden of peonies.
Start your own peony story
Despite the fact that peonies take a while to establish, they are worth the wait, they have the most beautiful flowers, if you have ever been to a farmers' market where there are peonies, the tables full of squishy peony buds, stacked in giant piles are a picture-perfect scene. My neighbor has two large peony fields and every spring they are out harvesting the peony buds when they are in squishy marshmallow stage to send off to market.
Someday I will recreate this scene when all my peony plants are fully mature, but until then I will wait, enjoy the blooms they give me and continue to add to my collection.
I remember reading in Martha Stewart Living magazine about Martha Stewart's peony garden, and I never would have dreamed that I too would someday have a peony garden with rows and rows of peonies, but I do, and I am so grateful to be able to offer peonies on our website, it is a dream come true to have a flower farm with a garden and gift shop, where I can share my love of gardening and flowers.
Peonies are low maintenance and long lasting
Peonies produce flowers in the spring, after flowering the plant stays beautiful and full of green foliage all summer long, in the fall its foliage is streaked with red and bronze making it one of the most beautiful additions to arrangements at that time. Since you will cut back the peony foliage in the fall anyway to avoid disease on their leaves, you might as well cut it now and tuck it into your fall arrangements with dahlias, cosmos, and zinnias, and other fall blooming plants.
Peonies are low maintenance, plant them with compost in a sunny, well-draining location. When planting, be careful not to plant too deep, their eyes should be no more than two inches below the soil level. In the fall, cut back their foliage at ground level and dispose of the leaves to prevent any fungal diseases. The biggest mistake when planting peonies is planting them too deep which will cause the peony not to bloom.
I hope you are inspired to plant some peonies this spring, decades later your daughter may stand in front of those plants with her daughter telling her that her mom (you) planted those peonies many years ago.