How long do peonies take to bloom? Gardening pros share when their flowers are set to appear after planting

Experts reveal when you can look forward to your peonies' gorgeous flowers after you plant them

Pink peonies
(Image credit: Getty Images/kazue tanaka)

We all love peonies for the same reason – their big, beautiful blooms that we can’t wait to adorn our homes and gardens with come late spring. And once you get your hands on your very own peonies to plant up in the garden, there’s surely only one thing on your mind – how long do peonies take to bloom after you plant them?

Whether you are considering adding peonies to your garden borders or have already learned how to grow peonies and planted them up, we’re afraid we don’t have the best news. Unfortunately, peonies don’t bloom in their first year following planting.

When it comes to peonies, it is a bit of a waiting game. But boy, is it worth it once those big, frothy blooms come through. But our gardening experts break down exactly how long you’ll need to wait.

A peony bud

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

How long do peonies take to bloom?

Peonies are consistently ranked as one of the nation’s favourite florals. And this year, peach peonies are the biggest flower trend, inspired by the Pantone colour of the year, Peach Fuzz. So it’s no surprise that many strive to go beyond just buying a peony bunch at the supermarket or the florist once a year – and instead want to benefit from their own peony supply from their own garden.

Even though this time of year might not be ideal as far as when to plant peonies goes since we’re in the midst of their blooming season - autumn is the perfect time for planting - you might have some bulbs or plants in your garden right now and might be wondering when to look forward to their vibrant flowers.

‘It’s likely that your peonies won’t flower in the first year of their growth – in fact, most will only start to bloom in their 3rd year and won’t flower regularly until about their 5th growth year,’ says Jamie Shipley, gardening expert and managing director of Hedges Direct. ‘Whilst they can take a while to establish the good news is that the more established your plant is the more flowers it’ll produce.’

A vase with flowers

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

Can you speed up the process?

One slight workaround is to buy an already established peony plant to transfer into your garden, instead of planting peony bulbs. ‘One way to get around this slow flowering is to buy a well-established peony plant instead of growing from bulb,’ Jamie says.

But according to John Clifford, gardening expert at Gardenstone, it’s widely not recommended to grow peonies from bulbs anyway. ‘The majority of the time, you won't grow peonies from bulbs exactly, but from bare-root plants or a division of a peony. Either way, it'll likely take 1-3 years for your peony to produce their first full blooms. Some peonies might only take 1 year, while others might take 3 years. There really is no way to speed this process up, or be able to tell how long a certain plant will take to bloom properly.’

But even though they don’t bloom from the get go, you still need to properly care for them as the plant spends the first years establishing itself. ‘Peonies use their energy reserves to establish a strong root system rather than flowering in the first few years of growth. Remember that your peony becoming a regular bloomer is all down to the care it receives. Even though your plant won’t flower in the first few years it’s important to keep topping up a thin layer of compost and remove any foliage with dark spots to stop the spread of fungal diseases.’

Pink peonies

(Image credit: Getty Images/Jasenka Arbanas)
John Clifford
John Clifford

John Clifford is a director of Gardenstone, a leading garden landscaping retailer based in the UK. With over 30 years in the gardening industry and continual work alongside The National Trust, John has amassed an extensive range of gardening and planting knowledge. Alongside his younger son, John has built a strong reputation for Gardenstone as a trusted source for both high-quality garden products and expert gardening advice. 

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FAQs

How long does it take for peony buds to open?

It is an exciting moment once a peony bud appears on your plant. After which all you can think about is when it’s going to open.

‘From first noticing peony buds to them opening could take anywhere from 7 to 14 days, depending of course on the variety of the peony, the weather conditions and their growing conditions,’ says John Clifford, gardening expert at Gardenstone.

He adds, ‘Wet weather conditions and overwatering can result in something called "balling", which is where a bud grows large into a ball shape but never properly opens.’

Peonies in the garden

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Woolley)

What do peonies look like in the first year?

As peonies don’t flower with their big, beautiful blooms in the first year after planting, they do look a bit bare that first year.

‘In the first year, peonies don't usually flower. They might produce one or two weak blooms, but nothing compared to how it will eventually. In the first year, a peony focuses primarily on establishing a strong root system, and developing its foliage,’ says John Clifford, gardening expert at Gardenstone.

So while we know this not ideal, there’s much to look forward to once your peony plants establish themselves and produce gorgeous blooms year after year.

News Writer

Sara Hesikova has been Ideal Home’s News Writer since July 2023, bringing the Ideal Home’s readership breaking news stories from the world of home decor and interiors, as well as trend-led pieces, shopping round-ups and more. Graduating from London College of Fashion with a bachelor’s degree in fashion journalism in 2016, she got her start in niche fashion and lifestyle magazines like Glass and Alvar as a writer and editor before making the leap into interiors, working with the likes of 91 Magazine and copywriting for luxury bed linen brand Yves Delorme among others. She feels that fashion and interiors are intrinsically connected – if someone puts an effort into what they wear, they most likely also care about what they surround themselves with.