They're one of the UK's most popular flowers, but knowing when to plant peonies is a must if you have them in your garden next year.
Now, we know what you're thinking: aren't peonies very tricky to grow? As it turns out, not so much: they're actually a low-maintenance bloom, which means they're well suited to even the greenest of gardeners.
Still, it's every bit as vital you know when to plant peonies as how to grow them, because it's the easiest way to give them the best start in life. And, thankfully for you, we have all the answers, so you ca hop on this garden trend ASAP...
When to plant peonies
Whether you know how to grow peonies or not, it'll do you little good if you aren't sure when to plant them!
'Peonies are easy to grow from bare roots, and autumn is the perfect time to plant them,' says Naomi Jones, horticulturist at Farmer Gracy.
'Planting in autumn gives your peony time to settle in over winter, then it can start to grow at exactly the right time in spring,' continues Naomi, noting that these surprisingly resilient plants are fully hardy and won't be affected by cold winter weather.
'You can simply leave them to it once planted,' she promises.
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'Autumn is the best time of year to plant many kinds of hardy plants in your garden – it’s a sweet spot when the soil is still warm so the new roots will develop quickly and get your new plants established,' agrees Morris Hankinson, the director of Hopes Grove Nurseries.
'And peonies are a classically beautiful and romantic plant, flowering vibrant pink, white and red flowers every summer, so well worth the effort.'
Best places to buy peonies
Now that you've figured out when to plant peonies, it's a good idea to stock up on some.
'There are different types of peonies, including herbaceous peonies, tree peonies, and intersectional (Itoh) peonies,' says Christopher. 'Select the variety that suits your preferences and the growing conditions in your area.'
Whichever you prefer, try shopping from the following stockists:
- Crocus has a wide variety of peony bare roots
- Thompson-Morgan, too, has a lovely peony bare root duo
- Sarah Raven is also a great spot to shop a variety of peony plants and bare roots
- Farmer Gracy has plenty of peony bare roots in stock
Once you've stocked up on peonies, all that's left to do is plant them. But, if you want them to bloom next year, you'll need to work quickly: you'll want them in the ground before it gets frozen or waterlogged.
What month is best to plant peonies?
The optimum planting time for peonies is over the autumn, ideally when the soil is still warm and before the first frosts. In fact, it's best to get everything planted before this important autumn date if you can (although it will shift depending on where you are in the UK).
Do peonies grow better in pots or ground?
Peony plants grow best in garden borders or soil, although you can also sow them in pots or containers if you wish – you just might find them a little trickier to look after.
'Peonies prefer a sunny location with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day,' says Christopher O'Donoghue, one of the directors of Gardens Revived.
'They can tolerate some light afternoon shade, especially in areas with hot summers. Ensure the planting site has well-drained soil to prevent waterlogging, as peonies don't like to sit in water.'
Do peonies flower the first year?
'It may take a year or two for newly planted peonies to establish and produce abundant blooms, so be patient,' says Christopher.
How do you plant peonies?
'Plant peony bare roots shallowly,' advises Naomi, adding that the buds should be no deeper than 3-5cm below the soil surface or they may not flower.
Do peonies come back every year?
'Peonies are perennial and each year grow back bigger and more prolific than the last until fully established,' says Naomi.
'Flowering in May/June, their luxurious blooms mark the start of the summer season in the most beautiful way.'
Do peonies grow back more if you cut them?
You should 'deadhead spent flowers to encourage more blooms on your peonies,' says Christopher.
'In the autumn, after the foliage has died back, cut it down to ground level. Proper fall clean-up helps prevent disease and pest problems.'
Do you need to soak peony bare roots before planting them?
It's always best to read the packaging on your particular variety of peony, but a general rule of thumb is to soak the root for about 30 minutes before planting.
Of course, if you are not able to plant straight away, don't despair, as you can plant peonies right up until the early spring if you must. Just be sure to pot them into a large container ready to transplant when conditions are favourable.
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Kayleigh Dray became Ideal Home’s Acting Content Editor in the spring of 2023, and is very excited to get to work. She joins the team after a decade-long career working as a journalist and editor across a number of leading lifestyle brands, both in-house and as a freelancer.
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