Peony Growing Guide

Paeonia species and hybrids


Crop Rotation Group



Fertile soil that holds moisture well, with a neutral to slightly alkaline pH.


Full sun.

Frost tolerant

Yes, most garden peonies are very cold hardy once established, tolerating cold to -34°C (-30°F).


In early spring as buds emerge, feed plants with a balanced organic fertiliser. Mulch around the dormant plants in winter to help build soil organic matter.


Single Plants: 35cm (1' 1") each way (minimum)
Rows: 35cm (1' 1") with 35cm (1' 1") row gap (minimum)

Sow and Plant

Plant dormant roots or container-grown plants in spring or autumn. Take time to amend the soil with compost or another source of organic matter, keeping in mind that peonies are permanent, long-lived perennials that do not like to be moved. Set the root in the prepared hole so that the buds are covered with no more than 2.5cm (1 inch) of soil. Peonies that are planted too deep will grow, but may not bloom for several years.
Our Garden Planner can produce a personalized calendar of when to sow, plant and harvest for your area.


Quality roots of award-winning peonies are costly, so take time to choose which ones to grow. If you are planting multiple peonies, early, midseason and late varieties will extend the flowering season. In high rainfall areas, keep in mind that single or semi-double varieties do not load up with rain and crash to the ground as do those with numerous, dense petals. Be patient after planting, because peonies often do not start blooming for a year or two after becoming situated in a new place. They can live happily for decades. Most peonies struggle in warm climates, but the Itoh hybrids often succeed in climates with limited winter chilling.


Gather fragrant stems for use in cut arrangements as you need them. Stems have a vase life of about 5 days. Peonies that are cut at the “marshmallow” stage, still closed but with some looseness to the bud, can be stored in the refrigerator for two weeks or more, then brought to room temperature to bloom.


Peonies have few pest problems. Poisonous compounds in leaves, stems and flowers make them resistant to rodents, rabbits and deer. Ants are often seen feeding on the sugary exudates the buds produce, but they do no harm to the flowers.

Planting and Harvesting Calendar

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Pests which Affect Peony