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What do we fertilize our peonies with at Nichols Arboretum?

Answer

We currently do not fertilize our peony plants.  However, as we remove, divide, and replant peonies, we amend the soil with compost to give them a boost since the soil has been on-site and unfertilized for nearly 95 years.

The best way to have a healthy peony is to plant in a nutrient rich soil, such as a clay loam. Additionally, peonies are heavy feeders and benefit from regular fertilization. A bulb fertilizer, perennial fertilizer, or 10-20-20 is a good option. Use a fertilizer low in nitrogen to prevent the peony from putting up too much dense, leafy growth and to encourage blooms. Fertilize first thing in the spring, when you see new shoots starting to come out of the ground. Spread the fertilizer around the perimeter of the plant, avoiding the crown of the peony. Applying fertlizer directly to the crown of the plant can cause damage.