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Perfect Peonies

4 min read

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These days it seems that nothing is as beautiful as the peony flower. While lovers of roses would likely contest, it cannot be denied that the peony has increased in popularity in recent years. Whether they feature in bouquets or in garden beds, the influence of the peony has reached new heights. These darling flowering plants are most commonly herbaceous perennial plants (growing between 0.5 and 1.5 metres tall), but some can be much larger, with a tree-like resemblance. The fragrant flowers of the peony, bloom across spring and summer in a variety of colours ranging from reds, pinks and whites to vibrant yellows.  

As much as you might like a garden blooming with peonies, when it comes to growing, it takes more than well wishes to have this plant flourishing. Renowned as a particularly challenging plant to grow, the tree peony is even more difficult still. While they require little maintenance once roots have taken, it’s getting them to that point that poses the greatest difficulties. They generally require a few years to establish themselves, bloom, and grow, so peonies are not for the faint-hearted. It takes true love to nurture these blooms to the point of self-sustainability.

Common Problems:

Buds that won’t Bloom

One of the most common problems that people seem to have when growing peonies is that their plants grow buds but never bloom. The problem is usually simple and easily fixed. It’s all about meeting the needs of a peony plant. Fulfill these simple needs and you should quickly see beautiful blooming peonies in your garden!  

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Does your Peony see sunlight?

Peonies require sun to produce beautiful blooms. The problem could be that your plant received the sufficient amount of sunlight in the lead up to summer to produce buds but not enough to continue its growth. This can happen if other plants grow larger and obscure your peonies sunlight.  

Have you been fertilizing?

Sometimes your peony is drawing nutrition from soil that is actually nutrient deficient. There may be just enough to grow the buds but that’s it. Fertilizing your peony could be all it takes to help continue its growth.  

Have you moved your Peony recently?

These beauties (like most humans) don’t enjoy moving house, it takes a lot out of them. In fact, it can take a peony some years to recover from the move. If your peony was replanted in the last four years, it may just need more time to bounce back.

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Is the depth right?

It’s incredibly important to plant your peony at the right level. The buds on the tubers need to be above the soil, not below it. If you’ve planted to deeply, you will need to relocate your peony (although as mentioned above, this will likely delay blooms for a few years).

How’s the weather?

Peonies need to endure a cold period in order to thrive. This cold period is where the buds are set. The problem may lie with the length of its cold period. If it’s not receiving enough of a cold period, it may only be able to set the buds and not flower.        

Other Tips for Peonies:  

- Garden beds that are somewhat raised make for a good peony homes as they allow proper drainage.  

- A neutral soil pH is always best. Dolomite lime added to the soil could resolve any pH issues.

- Sunlight is important (as mentioned above) but too much of a good thing is never beneficial.  Peonies still need protection from sunburn.

- Create a protective barrier from high winds as stems are likely to snap in such cases.  

NB: It’s not uncommon to see ants crawling over your peony buds but don’t be alarmed and certainly don’t spray with pesticides. These ants are doing you a favour. The ants eat the nectar of the peony buds and in exchange, keep away predators that might destroy your buds.

Interflora Australia has been operating across our country since 1954. Originally based in Adelaide, South Australia, we now operate out of Interflora House in Melbourne, Victoria. Interflora Australia is 100% Australian owned - via a licensing agreement, issued to us from Interflora in the United Kingdom...