How to Plant, Grow and Care for Peonies

pink peony flower

We have always been crazy for peonies. After all, we are from Indiana and the peony is the state flower of our home state!

Peony plants start to make their appearance in late spring and start blooming in early summer. We usually see some blooms before Memorial Day here in Indianapolis. The peony flowers are so beautiful. Full shades of pink are synonymous with peony blooms. There are so many types of peonies, we love to plant them all! 

Check out all of our Peony tips and tricks today!

pink peonies

What are peonies?

Peonies are flowering plants in the genus Paeonia. They are known for their large, showy, and fragrant flowers. They come in a wide range of colors including white, pink, red, and various shades in between. Peonies are native to Asia, Europe, and Western North America. They are very popular in the MidWest region of the US.

peonies in garden

What makes peonies so popular?

You might have noticed that peonies have been all the rage in flowers these past 5 years. They are an Instagram darling! So what makes them so popular? Here are a few reasons…


Peonies are known for their breathtaking beauty. The large, lush blooms and delicate petals create a stunning display that are so beautiful. 


Peonies offer a wide range of colors, shapes, and sizes. From the classic herbaceous peonies to tree peonies and intersectional hybrids, there are numerous varieties to choose from. This allows for gorgeous arrangement. They look beautiful on their own or in arrangements with different flowers. 


Many peonies have a delightful fragrance that adds to their allure. The sweet, floral scent can fill a room and create a pleasant aroma.

Garden versatility

Peonies are not only popular as cut flowers but also as garden plants. They are perennial plants that can thrive for many years with proper care. Their lush foliage adds beauty to the garden even when they are not in bloom.


Peonies are often associated with love and symbolize various concepts such as prosperity, honor, romance, and beauty. In many cultures, they are considered a symbol of good fortune, love, and happiness. Often you will see that the peony represents a loving marriage.


Peonies are known for their long lifespan as cut flowers and garden life. Compared to some other blooms, they can last for several days to weeks, allowing for extended enjoyment. Peonies are known to last over 100 years in the garden.

peonies in vase

Wedding and event flowers

Peonies are highly sought after for weddings and special events. Their romantic appearance makes them a popular choice for bridal bouquets, centerpieces, and floral arrangements.

Cultural significance

Peonies hold cultural significance in many countries, including China and Japan. They are highly regarded as a symbol of prosperity, honor, and beauty in traditional Chinese and Japanese art, literature, and celebrations.

Overall, peonies’ popularity can be attributed to their exquisite beauty, wide variety, enchanting fragrance, and their cultural and symbolic significance.

Their timeless appeal and ability to create stunning floral arrangements make them a beloved choice for many flower enthusiasts, gardeners, and special occasions.

What is the best place to buy fresh peonies?

If you have a Trader Joe’s near you, then you are in luck for affordable and beautiful peonies. They are typically available early spring (May) through July. 

dark pink peonies

10 tips to help you keep peonies fresh when they are cut from the garden or bought from a store:

  1. Choose peonies with unopened buds: Look for peonies with one or two unopened buds. They will continue to bloom once in the vase, extending their beauty and longevity.
  2. Cut the peonies in the early morning or late evening: These are the coolest parts of the day, and the flowers will be better hydrated, leading to longer vase life.
  3. Use a sharp, clean knife or shears: Make a clean cut at a 45-degree angle to avoid crushing the stems and to promote better water absorption.
  4. Remove excess foliage: Strip off any foliage that would be submerged in the vase water. Leaves left underwater can rot and promote bacterial growth, shortening the flowers’ lifespan.
  5. Fill a clean vase with water: Use a clean vase and fill it with room temperature water. Warm water can cause the flowers to bloom faster, while cold water can shock them.
  6. Add flower food or preservative: Use a commercially available flower food or make your own preservative solution using a mixture of water, sugar, and a few drops of bleach. This helps nourish the flowers and inhibit bacterial growth.
  7. Re-cut the stems underwater: Submerge the ends of the stems in water and trim about an inch off the bottom at a 45-degree angle. This helps prevent air bubbles from forming in the stems, allowing for better water uptake.
  8. Place the peonies in the vase: Immediately after cutting, place the peonies in the prepared vase. Ensure that no leaves are submerged in the water.
  9. Keep peonies away from direct sunlight and drafts: Place the vase in a cool location away from direct sunlight, heating vents, or drafts. This helps slow down the flowers’ metabolism and extends their freshness.
  10. Change the water every two days: To prevent bacterial growth, change the water every two days. Recut the stems each time to improve water uptake. Additionally, remove any wilted flowers or foliage to keep the arrangement looking fresh.

By following these tips, you can help maximize the freshness and longevity of your cut peonies, whether they are from your garden or purchased from a store. Enjoy their beautiful blooms for as long as possible!

pink peonies in vase

How to store peonies in the fridge to bloom later

Did you know that you can keep peonies in the fridge for up to two months?! Yes you can. If you think about how fresh flowers are transported to flower shops it makes perfect sense! Keep them refrigerated and cut when they have not bloomed.

TIP: cut them from garden when they are in the bud stage and almost a marshmallow like feel.

If you want to store peonies in the refrigerator to delay their blooming for a later date, you can follow these steps:

  1. Choose the right stage: It’s important to select peonies that are still in the bud stage but have started to show some color. Fully closed buds may not open properly when taken out of cold storage.
  2. Prepare the peonies: Cut the peonies with a clean, sharp pair of pruning shears or scissors. Trim the stems to your desired length, leaving a few inches below the buds.
  3. Remove foliage: Remove any leaves or foliage that would be below the water line when you place the peonies in a vase later. This helps prevent bacterial growth and keeps the water clean.
  4. Wrap the peonies: Wrap each peony stem individually in a damp paper towel. This helps prevent dehydration during the storage period.
  5. Place in a plastic bag: Put the wrapped peonies in a plastic bag. Seal the bag tightly to create a humid environment around the flowers.
  6. Refrigerate the peonies: Place the bag of peonies in the refrigerator, ideally in the vegetable crisper drawer, which provides a stable and cool environment. Make sure the temperature in the refrigerator is set between 34°F to 40°F (1°C to 4°C).
  7. Check regularly: Check on the peonies every few days to ensure they are still in good condition. Remove any flowers that show signs of rotting or wilting.
  8. Prepare for blooming: When you’re ready to enjoy the blooms, take the peonies out of the refrigerator and remove the plastic bag and damp paper towel. Trim the stems again before placing them in a vase filled with clean water.
  9. Allow time to bloom: Place the vase with the peonies in a bright, warm room away from direct sunlight. It may take a few hours or up to a couple of days for the peonies to fully open and bloom.

Remember, the longer you store peonies in the refrigerator, the more likely they are to lose some of their quality or fail to bloom properly.

We have read that some people say that you can keep them up to two months. We will be testing to see how long we can keep them for!

pink peonies in garden

How to plant peonies?

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to plant and care for peonies in your garden:

Choose the right location

Peonies thrive in full sun to light shade, so select a location that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. The soil should be well-draining and rich in organic matter.

Planting time

The best time to plant peonies is in the fall, between September and November. If you miss the fall planting window, you can also plant them in the spring, but they may take longer to establish.

Prepare the soil

Before planting, prepare the soil by loosening it to a depth of about 12 inches. Remove any weeds, rocks, or debris, and amend the soil with compost or well-rotted manure to improve its fertility and drainage. Typically, peonies like well-drained soil. 

Dig the planting hole

Dig a hole that is wide and deep enough to accommodate the peony root system. The hole should be about 2 feet wide and 1 foot deep.

Planting the peony

Place the peony root or tuber in the hole, making sure the eyes (buds) are facing upward. The eyes should be positioned no more than 2 inches below the soil surface. Backfill the hole with soil, firming it gently around the roots.


After planting, water the peony thoroughly to settle the soil. Make sure that the soil is consistently moist but not waterlogged throughout the growing season.


 Apply a layer of organic mulch, such as straw or wood chips, around the peony plant. Mulching helps retain moisture, keep weeds from growing, and regulates soil temperature. Keep the mulch a few inches away from the peony stems to prevent root and stem rot.

Supporting the plant

Peonies have large, heavy flowers that may require support to prevent them from drooping. Install stakes or plant supports early in the spring before the plant starts growing. As the plant grows, you can tie the stems to the supports using garden twine.


Peonies will benefit from an annual application of balanced fertilizer in early spring. Use a slow-release granular fertilizer. Make sure not to use a fertilizer that has excessive nitrogen.


Luckily, peonies do not require much pruning at all. In late fall or early spring, after the foliage has died, cut the stems down to ground level. This helps prevent the spread of diseases and promotes healthy regrowth for the next year.

Pest and disease control

Peonies are generally resistant to pests and diseases, but occasionally they can be affected by issues such as powdery mildew. To minimize the risk, ensure good air circulation around the plants and remove any infected foliage promptly. You might notice ants love peony blooms. The blooms are so sweet!

With proper care, your peonies should thrive and produce stunning blooms year after year. But remember to have patience when growing peonies. It can take a few years for newly planted peonies to establish fully and reach their maximum blooming potential. You may only get a few blooms the first year.

peony garden

When is the best time to plant peonies?

The best time to plant peonies is in the fall, between September and November. If you miss the fall planting window, you can also plant them in the spring, but they may take longer to establish. I have planted established peonies (bought from Lowes) in early May and they have done very well! You can also plant peony bulbs as well. 

What are peony cages?

Peony support cages are very helpful when the the plant is in full bloom. The flowers become very heavy. The cages provide plant support. 

peony flowers

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