5 tips for growing beautiful peonies in your garden

Tremendously cold hardy and phenomenally long-lived, peonies are the queens of many perennial borders. Their glossy dark foliage frames flowers that can be huge, and many are fragrant, too. Here are a five peony-growing tips.

5 tips for growing beautiful peonies in your garden

Dependable peonies

Whether white, pink, deep rose or a combination of colours, peonies bloom dependably year after year.

The biggest problem is that you must often wait two or three seasons for a new plant to begin blooming well. Peonies grow best where summers are cool.

1. Cover their eyes

Plant peonies in fall or early spring, when their "eyes" — little red buds on the crown — are visible.

  • Set the eyes three to five centimetres below the soil line if you live in cold winter climates.
  • In less severe winter climates, set the roots so the eyes are right at the surface. You can add mulch in winter, but remove it first thing in spring.

2. Paint your garden with peonies

  • Interplant peonies with bearded irises for a stunning show in late spring.
  • Pair crimson peonies with bright yellow or purple irises for a hot mix.
  • For a subtle look, use white or pink peonies with pastel irises.

3. Use a green screen

Help prevent peonies' heavy blooms from snapping in the wind by shielding the plants with an evergreen hedge.

Bonus: The flowers will sparkle all the more near the dark green backdrop.

4. Support peonies

  • To keep the blossoms from falling over, let peonies grow through the metal peony-support rings available at garden centres.
  • Or make your own by cutting a circle from a piece of large-mesh fencing and attaching it securely to a trio of bamboo stakes.

5. Add peonies for drama

  • When you cut peonies for floral arrangements, select stems with buds that are just opening (the striking blooms will unfold in a few days) and cut the stems with only a few sets of leaves. The plants need the foliage to produce food for the following year.
  • If you hear thunder, quickly cut any blossoms you've been planning to gather, because peonies with heavily ruffled flowers often crash to the ground when they become heavy with rain.
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