Double peonies – pruning

(Question)

I inherited a gorgeous double peony in the garden. It now stands around 4 feet and the flowers grow to 10 inches across when blooming. It loves the spot in the garden and I have no problems with it except the blooming season is so short. My question is am I supposed to prune it in the fall. The branches are very, very thick or should I just leave it.

 

(Answer)

As we note in our Gardening Tips , once peonies have bloomed, you should remove the blooms and can trim back the stalks and foliage a bit (so the plant can stand – it tends to get droopy, especially after a rainfall).  Don’t prune the foliage down to the ground until autumn.  The Canadian Peony Society has posted a helpful document that advises that the foliage is needed to help the plant prepare for next year’s growth, and that the time to prune is soon after the first frost.  As well, in order to protect the plant from fungal problems, it is important to discard – not to compost –  the pruned plant material.  See Peony Cultural Requirements.  Another good overview of peony care is posted by the North Carolina State University, Peonies for the Home Landscape.