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Peonies in Your Landscape

Peonies are a beloved and popular choice for landscaping in Indiana. Known for their stunning blooms, these flowers are relatively easy to care for. However, a little annual maintenance goes a long way in ensuring that your peonies continue to bloom beautifully year after year.

The Colors and Shapes of Peonies

Closeup of blooming Peony flowers with white fence in background

Traditionally, peonies were white, blush, pink, and red in color. Thanks to breeding efforts, we can now find peonies in vibrant coral, yellow, and even patterned varieties. Additionally, these magnificent flowers come in various shapes. By planting a variety of peonies, you can enjoy an extended bloom time and a diverse array of captivating blossoms.


Planting and Care Tips for Peonies

To give your peonies the best start, it’s ideal to plant them in early fall. Look for rot-free divisions that contain 3-4 buds (known as eyes). Make sure the eyes are not buried more than 2 inches below the soil line. Keep in mind that smaller divisions may take longer to bloom.

  • Providing the Ideal Growing Conditions

Peonies thrive in full sun but can tolerate some light shade. As these flowers require winter cold to bloom, avoid mulching over the winter months. It’s also important to give your peonies ample space, as competition from nearby trees and shrubs can reduce their flower size. To control weeds, apply 2-3 inches of mulch around your peonies each spring.

  • Fertilizing and Watering Tips

Over-fertilizing can hinder the bloom of your peonies. Excessive nitrogen fertilizer encourages foliage growth at the expense of flowers. Established plants with healthy growth only need to be fertilized every few years. When fertilizing, wait until they have finished blooming and use a balanced fertilizer or one with a higher phosphorous content (middle number). Avoid applying fertilizer directly on the center of the plant, as it may damage the buds. Instead, place the fertilizer in a band 8 to 18 inches away from the center and water it in thoroughly.

Blooming Care and Disease Prevention

After blooming, it’s beneficial to remove flower heads and/or seed pods. This not only enhances the appearance of the plants but also prevents the plant from wasting energy on producing seeds. Contrary to popular belief, peonies do not rely on ants for flowering. Ants are often seen on peony buds due to the presence of extrafloral nectaries on their sepals, which are leaf-like structures that cover the flower before it opens.Familiarize yourself with symptoms of common peony diseases such as leaf blotch, powdery mildew, and different blights. Taking action early can help protect the vigor of your plants and prevent disease spread. In the fall, cut peony foliage back to the ground and either compost or discard it. This practice aids in keeping disease development under control. Divide and replant peonies only when they become crowded.


With their captivating colors, enchanting shapes, and relatively low maintenance requirements, peonies are an excellent choice for any landscape. By following these planting and care tips, you can ensure that your peonies bloom beautifully year after year, providing a stunning showcase of nature’s beauty in your own yard.