Instruction for Pruning Peonies
Perennial peonies bloom in a large range of colors, providing flowers to the garden for most of the summer and into fall. They grow well in cooler regions, as the plants require a period of winter cold in order to bloom again every year. There are two types of peonies, the lower-growing herbaceous peony and the tall tree peony. Proper pruning encourages the plants to produce large flowers and also prevents the plants from becoming unkempt or overgrown looking.
Things You’ll Need
- Inspect the peonies for flower buds in early summer, which form around the end of each flower stem. Pull off the lateral buds, or the buds on either side of the stem, when they are the size of a large pea. Leave the terminal bud, or the large bud at the end of the stem, in place to bloom. Removing buds encourages larger flower production.
- Remove spent blooms as soon as they begin to wither. Cut off the old flower ¼ to ½ inch beneath the bloom, leaving the stem and foliage in place. Removing old flowers, called deadheading, prevents seed formation and encourages further blooming.
- Cut herbaceous peonies back to within 3 inches of the ground once the foliage is killed off by fall frost, using a pair of sharp shears. Remove any remaining foliage from the plants or the garden bed and dispose of it. Tree peonies do not require cutting back; just remove any dead foliage and dispose of it.
Tips & Warnings
Place a stake behind peonies soon after removing buds to help support the large flowers once they are in bloom.
Cutting too many peony flowers for arrangements can inhibit future flowering. Cut no more than 1/3 of the existing flowers on a peony plant and leave all the foliage intact on the plants to prevent negative impact to the peony.