How to Feed Peonies


Herbaceous peonies live for decades, adding colorful flowers to the garden and to borders for a few short weeks before their lush foliage becomes a backdrop to summer annuals. The flowers come in nearly every color (except blue) in both single and double petal varieties. Peonies are low maintenance plants, requiring only light feedings in order to thrive. Whether you are just beginning your peony bed or tending an established bed, proper fertilization will help them thrive.



Things You’ll Need
  • Compost
  • Power tiller
  • Hoe
  • Fertilizer
  • Hand-held cultivator tool
  1. Lay a 3-inch layer of compost on top of new peony beds to add organic feed to the new plants. Till in the compost using a power tiller for large beds or a hoe for smaller plantings.
  2. Add ½ cup per plant of balanced 10-10-10 general fertilizer to new beds. Work into the top 10 inches of soil with a hand-held cultivator tool, taking care not to apply it where the roots of the peonies will be planted.
  3. Apply 1-inch of compost a year to established beds. Apply compost in spring before the plants begin actively growing; there is no need to work it into the soil.
  4. Apply ¼ cup of 10-10-10 fertilizer per plant starting the third year after initial planting. Apply the fertilizer around the plant and work into the top 1 to 2 inches of the soil with a hand held cultivator.

Tips & Warnings

  • Apply yearly fertilizer treatments after the plants stop flowering but while they are still green. This encourages further foliage growth which helps the peonies store nutrients for next year.

  • Substitute compost for composted manure, just don’t allow it to come in direct contact with the plant stems.

  • Add compost in fall after cleaning up the peony bed instead of spring if desired. Some nutrients will be lost over winter though.

  • Do not let the fertilizer come in direct contact with the roots, leaves or stems of the peonies, as this will burn and damage them.

  • Avoid over-fertilization, as this may lead to pest or disease problems.

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