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Growing Peonies

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General Peony Care

Herbaceous, Intersectional, and tree peonies thrive with the same general care. There are some slight differences in the preferred range of sun as noted below.

Soil  All peonies prefer a fertile, well-drained soil.  They do not like to have wet feet, so heavy, poorly-drained clay is not advisable.  Sand does not hold enough nutrients or moisture, so peonies planted in sand will also suffer.


  • Herbaceous peonies prefer at least 8 hours of full sun.  They will grow in partial shade, but they will not flower as readily. The only expections are some of the infrequently grown Asian woodland species, which require part shade. 
  • Tree peonies grow best in full sun, but some cultivars will tolerate up to a half day of light shade, although the flowing may be reduced. Tree peony flowers are larger and more fragile than those of herbaceous peonies. As a result, the flowers benefit from protection from full sun during the hottest part of the afternoon. Parasols are traditionally used in some Asian cultures to extend the life of peony flowers in full sun.


Nearby Plants  Herbaceous peonies do not like to have root competition.  Plant them far away from large trees and shrubs.  Plant other herbaceous material at least 12 inches away from the crown of the plant. Tree peonies can tolerate other trees and shrubs, but too much shade is detrimental.

Fertilizing  If you would like to fertilize your peony, you can use tulip fertilizer.  This will provide nutrition to the plant and encourage blooming.  Fertilize in the spring when plants are emerging from the ground.  Add the fertilizer around the drip-line of the plant - not directly on the crown which can burn the plant.

Watering  Once established, peonies require very little water.  However, during the first year, it is critical to provide enough water.  Mature plants can benefit from a deep watering during especially dry periods.  Remember, peonies do not like to be sitting in water, so be careful not to overdo it.  

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