Peony slow to return


I have a 20 year old peony in my north facing garden in East York and last year i hired a gardening service that cut back the foliage in early fall before hard frost. This spring I’m not seeing the telltale heads peeping out of the ground and I’m worried he may have killed it. Is anyone seeing peony growth yet or is it still too early? What can I do to encourage flower growth in these circumstances?


Thank you for your question about your peony. These are beautiful, long-lived plants which we treasure in our gardens.

The foliage of most herbaceous peonies declines in the fall, so the leaf pruning done by your gardening service should not have affected your peony’s ability to come back this year. However, you mention that your peony is on the north side of the house. Although peonies can take some shade, those in cooler and shadier parts of the garden will return more slowly than those planted in a sunny and hot location. In my own garden, the peonies in the south bed are one or two inches high, while the ones on the north side of my house are barely showing.

Peonies are very tough plants once established and yours has been going strong for twenty years. It is likely just taking its time coming up and you should see it shortly. If it has not come up in a few weeks, feel free to reach out to the Toronto Master Gardeners again. Happy gardening!