Tips and Tricks for the Best Peonies


Each Spring and early Summer I try to patiently wait for my peonies to bloom. I started by watching my mom grow hers, then added four peony plants in our former home and now we currently have close to 20 peony bushes! And you better believe I keep a close watch on all of them. Today I hope to share some tips and tricks for the best peonies that I have learned while growing peonies over the past 16 years!

Tips and Tricks for the best peonies!

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Just to be clear, I am by no means a flower or gardening expert. I just love getting my hands dirty and sharing what works for me in hopes that it will work for you too. I encourage you to do zpeony research like I did (mainly on google and Pinterest) to see how they will best work for you and your garden zone. We live in northern Colorado which is zone 5b, but these tips are very general and will work for all zones.

Tips and Tricks for the Best Peonies

Tips and Tricks for the best peonies!

Peonies are my absolute favorite flower and luckily they grow really well here in Colorado. Each year I look forward to their blooming season which for us can be anywhere between May and June!

Let me share a few tips that have helped me through the years!

Where to Plant Your Peonies

First and foremost, it’s important to choose the right location for your peonies. They need a spot that gets plenty of sunlight, ideally at least six hours a day.

They also prefer well-draining soil that’s not too wet. If you have heavy clay soil, consider amending it with compost or sand to improve drainage.

Peonies and roses!A Quick Funny Story

First, before I share some tips with you all let me tell you one of my all time favorite stories!

A few years ago in my daughter’s preschool class they were given bug jars and asked to bring in an insect to share with the class.

So my youngest, who was four at the time, and my husband found a slug on one of my peonies out in our backyard and she took it to school. When my sister picked her up from school later that afternoon (I was teaching) she was so excited to bring her slug back home and told my sister that daddy had found it for her out back on mommy’s panties! 🙂

My sister (after choking back a laugh) thought she had misheard her and asked her to repeat what she had just said, clear as day my four year old says…you know, on my mom’s favorite flowers, her panties!

My sister figured out she meant my peonies but just about peed her own panties wondering if her teacher had gotten the same story! We all died laughing when she told us and luckily we never got a call from her teacher.

But I’m sure she had a good chuckle herself! 

Tips for Planting Peonies

When planting your peonies, make sure to give them enough space to grow. They should be planted about 3 to 4 feet apart to allow for good air circulation. But if you like for them to give off more of a hedge look, like in our backyard, then 2 feet apart works just fine!

Peeking through the peonies to our table set for dinner!
Our all white hedge of “Bridal Shower” peonies.

Peonies also prefer to be planted in the fall, so plan ahead and get them in the ground before the first frost.

Another important tip for growing peonies is to make sure they’re planted at the right depth. You want the top of the peony root to be about 2 inches below the soil surface. If you plant them too shallow, they may not bloom, and if you plant them too deep, they may not bloom at all.

Peonies can be a bit finicky and might not always bloom their first year.

Tips for Growing Peonies

These lovely plants grow best in zones 2-8. They need to be in an area that has a deep freeze for at least 30 days and they need to be planted shallow and get plenty of sun! They are hearty flowers and not that hard to grow once they are established. 

However, sometimes it does take a few years for blooms to come so don’t panic! One more tip that I learned from my sister was to add fertilizer to them in early spring! My sister’s peonies were huge this year and I will be fertilizing mine next year for sure!

I plan to use my favorite True Organic liquid fertilizer that I use on my zinnias, or possibly a slow-release fertilizer, like bone meal or fish emulsion, in the spring and fall. Be sure to follow the instructions on the package, and don’t over-fertilize, as this can cause damage to the plant.

Also, once your peonies are planted, it’s important to keep them well-watered. They need about an inch of water per week, either from rain or irrigation.

Be careful not to overwater, though, as peonies don’t like to sit in wet soil. If you notice any signs of stress, like yellowing leaves or drooping stems, give them a good drink.

Our Favorite Peonies

  • Kansas
  • Sarah Bernhardt
  • Gay Paree
  • Bridal Shower (all white)
  • I can’t wait to try Coral Sunset or the Pink Hawaiian variety.
white peonies jsut beyond our outdoor table

Can Peonies Grow in Pots?

Yes, peonies can grow in pots, but they may not thrive as well as they would in the ground. I have never tried them in pots myself.

When planting peonies in pots, it’s important to choose a large container with good drainage holes, as peonies don’t like to sit in wet soil. You’ll also want to use a high-quality potting mix that’s rich in organic matter, and fertilize regularly with a slow-release fertilizer.

Keep in mind that peonies have deep roots, so the container should be at least 18 inches deep. With proper care, you can enjoy the beauty of peonies even in a container garden.

Ants are Their Friend

If you have ever been around peonies you might have noticed that they tend to have a lot of ants on their blooms. Peonies need the ants to eat the sugary coating of off their blooms to help them be able to open and bloom.

Ant on peony bud

Tip: once your peonies bloom and you cut them to bring them inside you can dip them in a cold bowl of water to make sure no ants are on the blooms. (This basically drowns them.)

How Long Do Peonies Bloom?

Peonies typically bloom for a short period of time, usually 7 to 10 days, although this can vary depending on the variety of peony and growing conditions. The bloom time of peonies can also vary depending on your location and climate.

In cooler areas, peonies may bloom later in the season and have a shorter bloom time, while in warmer areas, they may bloom earlier and have a longer bloom time. It’s important to enjoy the beauty of the blooms while they last and to take care of the plant throughout the year to ensure healthy growth and future blooms.

Pretty pink peonies from mom's yard
Gay Paree Peonies from my mom’s garden!

Transplanting Peonies

I have never personally transplanted peonies, (just my hostas) but after some research I found some great information.

It is said that September (mainly Fall) is the best time to transplant your peonies. According to an article published on HGTV by Julie Martens Forney, transplanting peonies should only be done if absolutely necessary and when the plants are older. They don’t like  to me moved! If you do need to move them she provides excellent tips for doing so correctly.

Hold those Blooms Up

You may have noticed that the peony flower is very heavy and a lot of the times you will see their blooms being pulled down to the ground.

Luckily there is an awesome and easy solution!

As your peonies begin to grow, you may need to provide support to keep them from falling over. You can use peony rings, stakes, or even tomato cages to help support the stems. Be sure to provide support early in the season, before the plants get too big.

peonies (1) with a stake
This is a bloom with a stake.

My favorite is the Peony Grow Through Ring. We have a peony grow through ring on several of our current peony bushes (I need more) and it is amazing how well they work! I also use stakes for a few of the larger blooms once they are at their biggest!

I found mine at Walmart and I place mine around my peonies in early spring when they first start sprouting. They then grow through the rings and support the large blooms. The perfect fix!

Should I Deadhead My Peonies and When?

After your peonies are done blooming for the season, it’s important to deadhead them to prevent seed formation. This will help the plant put its energy into growing strong roots for next year’s blooms. Plus you want to enjoy them so why not cut them and enjoy them indoors or on a pretty outdoor table.

You can cut the stems back to the ground in the fall or leave them until spring.

Decorating with Peonies Indoors and Out

The one draw back to peonies is that they only bloom once and their blooms only last a few weeks. So in order to prolong them I enjoy them on the bush for a few days but them cut them and bring them inside right away.

They last for quite awhile once they are cut!

Plus, if you add a little bit of Sprite to the water they last even longer!

Fresh cut peonies!

Don’t fret if you live an area where peonies don’t grow. Most grocery stores and florists carry peonies that you can easily bring home. Trader Joe’s is my favorite place to snag beautiful peonies for decorating or drying!

Peonies and Rae Dunn Summer plates!
Peonies, Snowballs and DA Roses for the perfect summer centerpiece!

I love to mix my peonies with my Viburnum Snowballs and David Austin roses! If you saw my Spring Porch Refresh then you know I have plenty of snowballs!

Drying Peonies

One way to keep these gorgeous flowers around longer is to dry them. This is a very simple process that I have seen my mom do for years! Basically find a spot to hang them (I love to use my mug rack or old windows like the picture below) or sometimes I just simply remove them from the water and leave them on the counter to dry out.

They hold their color beautifully! 

The simple way to dry peonies!

I usually leave them on their stems or sometimes, like my mom, I keep the dried petals in old Kerr jars. I love decorating with them! You can see peonies throughout the years over on my Instagram feed if you scroll through!

I even used these beautiful flowers to create a gorgeous dried peony wreath!

How to make a dried peony wreath in a few simple steps.

Tips and Tricks for the Best Peonies

Peonies are definitely one of my favorite flowers! I feel so blessed to have a garden of my own to grow these lovely flowers! I hope a few of my tips and tricks for the best peonies were helpful to you, and please know that I am not a master gardener but rather a girl learning and sharing as she goes!

Do you have a favorite flower that you love? Let me know in the comments below or if you have any Peony tips and tricks to share with me I would love for you to leave them in the comment section below. Happy Summer my friends!

I’d love to have you hang out with me some more! Feel free to follow along with me on any of the platforms linked below.

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Tips and Tricks for Peonies; pretty pink peonies in the yard
Tips and Tricks or the Best Peonies!

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  1. I have grown peonies for a number of years but always,always they start out beautifully then the buds start turning brown before they open,and die. I dont know what I have done wrong. They get plenty of sun, water and I haven’t observed any bugs (besides ants) on them. Your peonies are beautiful. I thank you for your tips and I hope you can advise me on what I need to do to ensure mine can be as beautiful as yours.

    1. Hmmm this is so weird! I had one of my plants do this early on when they were a year or two old but now they blooms.How long have you had yours? Is there any chance they are planted too deep? That is usually the culprit. You might try digging them up and barely planting them under the soil or even just removing dirt and mulch from the base. It couldn’t hurt since they aren’t blooming?! SO Sorry and good luck!

      1. Thank you for your response,Kelly. I have had them for about 25 years believe it or not! I am definitly going to try and transplant them. You are right. It certainly couldn’t hurt! I have so many buds. Just full of ugly brown unopened buds. Thank you for your advice. Let’s see if they will do better in another area of the garden.

  2. After I got finished laughing about your daughter, I really loved all your tips Kelly! I’m going to try to dry my peonies this year! I have dried lots of flowers but never them!

    1. Thanks Tracey.. I can’t wait to see how your dried ones turn out! SO simple! AS for my daughter that story will always be the best! Have a great weekend!

  3. Kelly this is beautiful! I love the peonies mixed with the viburnum! Thank you so much for sharing for Our Inspired Collection Link Up!

  4. Great tips, Kelly! I’m Zone 9…😭😭😭 Too hot here in Florida! They’re so beautiful!! I might have to keep going to Trader Joe’s to try and find some! And some sprite! How funny about the panties!😂😂🤦🏻‍♀️

  5. Love your peonies!! I have about six plants white, pink and red….they are spread around my backyard, I would like to transplant them so they are all together….so do you know when I should move them?? Thanks for your tips!!

    1. Hi Peggy! Love that you have six peony bushes!Ok I have never transplanted them myself but I have read that September is the best time to transplant them. I hope that helps! I appreciate you stopping by!

  6. Hi Kelly
    I finally decided to bring some peonies into my home. I cut them and dumped into water for about 30 minutes to kill the ants. Oh, they look so beautiful and the aroma is divine. The next day I saw a dark spot on my kitchen floor about the size of a quarter. It was ants having a meeting to decide where they were and what to do. I killed them and then washed their pathways with vinegar. How strange as they were all gathered together and talking ant talk.
    Next year I will cut my beautiful peonies and put underwater for an hour and then wait to see if there is, “a meeting of the ants”. So worth it to enjoy my peonies. I will use sprite next year to lengthen their life.
    Thank you Kelly for sharing you!!!!

    1. Oh Diana this made me giggle! Those darn ants… thankful for them helping the peonies open but I don’t want them inside either! Ha! Glad you enjoyed the post and enjoy your peonies too!

  7. Loved the panties story made me laugh and all in all this was a damn good post, not that I have a garden but I still enjoyed the post

  8. Kelly,
    I recently planted a bush and had several blooms right away. Then nothing. LOL. Thanks for all you information. Pinned and hoping for blooms next year.

  9. My mother always had peonies when I was growing up! I just love them! Thanks for sharing all these good tips!

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