Growing Peonies

(Question)

Hi there, I planted a herbaceous peony last fall and it started growing in March (?), but, then it seems to stop growing after it is about 30cm tall (but it doesn’t die either). I’ve put a ‘ring’ around it to help support them but it never reaches that height. Could you advise why it ‘stops’ growing or is it slow growing in their first year? Thank you.

(Answer)

Hello, I am wondering how big the plant was when you planted it; was it only one or two small stems? Peonies should be planted in a well prepared area with a good mix of compost and other organic matter. Also, making sure that there is no competition from roots of other perennials, shrubs or trees is important. Peonies require lots of sun, 6 hours or more a day.

To make sure you will eventually have flowers the ‘eye’ of the peony should be planted no more than 2.5 cm in the soil.

In the fall when you clean the garden, put some manure around the base but not touching it and again in the spring repeat this process. As peony grower Allan Rogers, author of Peonies (Timber Press, 1995) puts it, “Remember the time-tested adage: The first year the peony sleeps, the second year it creeps and the third year it leaps.” I hope this helps and that in two years you have an abundance of flowers.

NOTE: When the time comes to divide them, there are some great tips on the Master Gardeners of Ontario site, which you can see here.