Darrell Blackwelder: Peonies

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 3, 2020


You may have noticed fluffy, colorful flowers in the landscapes around the county. Peonies are now in full bloom with large, colorful flowers. Once planted they often become a colorful spring staple within the landscape.

There are basically two types of peonies — garden peonies and tree peonies. Garden peonies are herbaceous perennials while tree peonies are a deciduous shrub type that looses leaves in the fall.

These colorful plants come in a wide array of colors from brilliant white to deep pinks. These perennials grow best in full sun tolerating only a bit of light shade. Considered a cool weather plant, peonies require a number of chilling hours to produce blooms. The plants need support staking during bloom period as they tend to grow tall with heavy blooms that cascade to the ground.

It’s best to plant them on a northern exposure to protect from windy conditions in a well-drained soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0 planted in early fall. It’s best to remove flowers as soon as they fade to help promote growth. Remove the faded flower leaving as much foliage as possible. Be careful not to harvest too many flowers as it may reduce the flowering in future years. Go to https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/peonies-for-the-home-landscape for more detailed information growing peonies.

Darrell Blackwelder is the retired horticulture agent and director with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Contact him at  deblackw@ncsu.edu