How To Care For Peonies

A Complete Guide for Growing Peonies

Peony Flowering Plants-
Peony Flowering Plants

Brighten up your garden and landscape area with peonies, these garden beauties are really amazing with their large showy flower. Peonies can also be used as cut flowers in floral arrangements. Some varieties give a mild fragrance, besides their cluster of blooms the glossy green leaves add to its overall appeal.

Peonies are a real show stopper so make your garden the talk of the neighborhood by adding these garden beauties so come with me as we take a closer look at the growth and care of peonies.

Planting Location

When installing peonies look for an area that gets full to partial sunlight because these garden beauties thrive well when exposed to locations of this type. When planting space plants 3-4 ft for good air circulation.

Soil Type

The soil can be a good loamy soil because this soil type will all hold the right amount of water but all excess water to drain, the soil ph for peonies is neutral.

Watering Methods

Apart from your peonies getting that spring rain, it is best to water moderately, do not overwater which can lead to saturated soil and root rot.

Fertilizing Methods

The use of a granular fertilizer such as 10-10-10 or 5-10-5 will help. Before applying fertilizers read and follow the manufactures label.

Garden insect pests of peonies

Garden insect pests can really do a number on peonies, identifying and putting control measures in place will bring these pests under control.

  • Mealybugs
  • Ants
  • Hoplia Beetles
  • Thrips
  • Armored Scales
  • Bulb Mites


Mealybugs are very common among garden insects pest and feed on a host of garden plants. Mealybugs can be easily identified by a white waxy mealy covering that looks somewhat like cotton. These bugs can cause the same damage as aphids, mites, and scales. The use of insecticidal soap will bring them under control.


Thrips can cause server damage, I have had many challenging experiences with them. The adult thrips are tiny and slender, with colors of black, brown, or yellow. Their babies resemble their parents and are yellow to light green.

The damage of thrips includes white patches on the plant’s leaves along with streaks and slivery speckling this damage is caused because the fluid is being extracted from the plant by these garden insect pests. A serious infestation may also cause leaf drops, twisting of the leaves, or the leaves being deformed. The use of insecticidal soap will offer some help.

Armored Scales

Scale insects are very tiny but can cause huge damage to your peonies. These garden insect pests remain motionless causing much damage, the body of scale insects is round and looks like armor. Scales also cause damage by sucking the plant’s fluids which contribute to the yellowing of the leaves, leaf drops, and sooty mold . The use of insecticidal soaphorticultural oilor releasing beneficial insects into your garden area will eliminate them.


Ants are busy little workers and can be found both in and outdoors, there are many ant species that seem to always be on the go. Ants also find peonies to be attractive not because of the beautiful flower bloom but for the sugary sap which is released by the buds. This sugary substance is food for them. A simple spray of water will get rid of them, but they will return. When the flower buds are open the ants will go away.

Hoplia Beetles

Hoplia Beetles are one-fourth of an inch long shiny and green with brown heads. When peonies are in full bloom during the growing season these beetles will eat holes in the blossoms causing them to long unattractive. The use of carbaryl or malathion will eliminate them, repeated application, however, will bring them under control. Hand-picking them and throwing them in a bucket of soap and water will also work.

Bulb Mites

The bulb mite is whitish to brownish in color and does damage by feeding on decaying, diseased, or damaged roots. Once these bugs begin to feed will carry disease to healthy roots, and infected roots turn soft and reddish to brown. When purchasing peonies examine the roots to ensure they are healthy if discover that roots are damaged although they were healthy at the time of purchase prune damaged roots and roots that may be diseased. Ensure that the root system is healthy at all times to prevent bulb mites.

Disease of peonies

Peonies do have their share of diseases knowing how to identify and treat them will keep your peonies in tip-top shape.

  • Crown Gall
  • Wilt
  • Powdery Mildew
  • Ring Spot
  • Leaf Spot
  • Mosiac
  • Root Rot
  • Botrytis Blight
  • Southern Blight
  • Root-Knot Nematodes

Crown Gall

Leaf Spot

Leaf spot causes the leaves to turn yellow, wither, and fall early. Leaves may also have irregular spots that are reddish, purplish to brown.

Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew is a white powdery-looking substance that forms on the leave’s surface, control this disease by watering plants early in the morning so that the leaves can have time to dry,  fungicide labeled to treat powdery mildew will help. Leaves may also turn yellow and fall, clean up all fallen leaves and give a proper spacing of plants for good air circulation.


Appears as dark and light green circular areas on leaves, spots may also become necrotic. The only solution is to uproot plants and properly dispose of them.

Ring Spot

Causes serve stunting in plants, blotches or spots may also appear which are yellow to orange. The plant may not flower and the younger leaves may be deformed.  Remove plants that have these symptoms.


Wilt is caused by a fungus, this fungus will cause the plant’s tissues to turn brown such as in the stems or roots. During the blooming season, peonies will wilt and die. Infected plants should be removed and destroyed, do not replant until the soil has been sterilized.

Botrytis Blight

The fungus which causes this disease is encouraged by rainy weather, the shoots and the buds will wilt all of a sudden followed by a brown to black rot at the base of the stem. The fungus will also attack small buds turning them black and then drying up.

Lesions that are dark brown and irregular may appear on the leaves. Garden insect pests also spread this disease. The use of a foliar fungicide will offer some help, soil drenching, and in the more extreme case removing and discarding the plant.

Root-Knot Nematodes

Cause the plant to stunt and turn yellow, galls which are tiny appear on roots. Remove the infected plant and don’t replant until a year. Tilling the soil on a regular basis also helps by keeping the area weed-free.

Southern Blight

Symptoms include the base of the stem turning water-soaked followed by wilting. Plants with southern blight should be removed and destroyed.

Root Rot

Peonies that suffer from root rot become stunted, and yellow followed by death. The only solution is to remove infected plants.

Where to plant peonies

Here are just a few places where to install peonies.

1. Install peonies in clusters in a garden bed.

2. Plant your peonies along aside a garden wall.

3. What about alongside a fence?

4. Install peonies as a backdrop in a garden plant bed.

5. What about along a garden pathway?

6. Install peonies in containers and place containers on your patio or porch.

7. If you have additional space alongside your pool area this will work wonders.

8. Place peonies in containers and place the containers on either side of your door entrance.

9. Use peonies as cut flowers to spruce up your interior.

Container grown peonies

When installing peonies in containers it is best to use soil that is rich in organics, the benefit of using organics is that this type of soil will drain well but will allow excess water to drain through. Ensure that the container has drain holes to allow excess water to drain also, once your peonies are potted place them in an area that gets full sunlight. Fertilize, water, and treat garden insect pests and diseases as discussed earlier.

Deadheading Peonies

Deadheading is the process by which spent or faded flowers are removed by pruning or pinching the reason for this is once flowering plants begin to lose their flowers they will automatically focus on setting seeds but pruning or pinching peonies will cause them to focus their energy on more flower bloom.

The final word

The growth and care of peonies are so easy, these garden beauties will light up your world with their many flower bloom. Peonies are worth the investment why not give them a try? These garden wonders are a must so join the many who are having success with peonies which will help in making your garden the talk of the neighborhood.


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About the author

+ posts

Norman loves being in the garden, both at home and for his job....
he is 'Natures Little helper' being outdoors, growing his vegetables and flowers from an early age.
Now having spent over 22 years in the profession he want to give some of his knowledge to others...
his vast array of hints and tips you will find scattered over this site will help you no end growing plants in your garden.