Peony Pruning?

Moonlit HareMoonlit Hare Posts: 153

My Peonies are all pretty much done and dusted now. I have a large one in the front garden which we inherited when we moved back in March, it flowered beautifully. We also have 2 small ones in the back garden which I "liberated" from my Grans garden!image The 2 in the back havent really done much but thats fair enough because I know they sulk so I've kind of given up on them for this year. However all 3 are looking very sulky and tierd now, I don't thing the rain has helped ( I'm in Lancs)

So the question is now do I cut back all 3 so they can concentrate on getting their roots big and strong for next year? do I just let them die back and tidy up when they are all brown and shrivelled?

Also the one in the front which flowered has gone to seed, can I collect them and try growing new plants for next year? I've only ever had plants we've split before and I've always kind of let them do their own thing, however I'm planning on being in this house a bit longer than the last 3 so want to make sure my plants are happy and healthy. I've had gardens before but never really had the time or the inclination to garden in a structured way and plan out what I would like where from season to season.

Thanks in advance for your help, you've never failed me so far and it is appreciated.



  • Alina WAlina W Posts: 1,445

    I've never tried growing the seeds but I see no reason why you shouldn't. The only thing to be aware of is if you have hybrids they will not come true.

    Cutting back - no, don't. Let them take in energy from the leaves, and cut them back when the leaves are brown and dead.

  • The trouble with peonies is that they take up a lot of room and don't flower for long. I always cut back my peonies after flowering to make room for other flowering perennials around them. I leave plenty of leaf so that they can regenerate, but give them a fairly drastic haircut around the sides. That way, I don't leave a horrible hole in the border, but in a small garden, all plants have to earn their place and fit in with other plants. 


  • PalaisglidePalaisglide Posts: 3,171

    Paeonia, my favourite flower having grown up with a huge bush of the plant which was very old then and now have a cutting from that plant from my Sister. It was paeonia officnalis Rubra-plena a deep red. I also have a more modern Rubra-plena and Alba-plena.
    They do not need pruning until late Autumn then you cut them back to ground level, I dead head then tidy them up a little but that is it.
    They can be moved as long as you leave the surface of the root ball uncovered when you replant it. Put plenty of good compost in the hole first then mulch the area around the root ball without actually touching it. Rake in bone meal in early spring making sure you do not damage the roots that are near the surface. They like almost full sun although shade from early morning sun after frost.
    You can grow from seed sown as normal then left in a cold frame in early Autumn, prick them out into a nursery bed in Spring and leave for three or four years before planting in position in the Autumn.
    They can be divided but make sure you have roots and dormant buds on each piece, they can take a year or so to settle and flower. My cutting had a flower the first year then nothing for three years until it flowered again this year, patience is required with Paeonia.
    A lot of gardeners say they are not worth the bother, that is a matter of taste, a lot of plants come and go in a flash, this years Paeonia have lasted three weeks and are going over now, the bees swarm round them and I underpin them with Cranes-bill, the blue of that sets the paeonia off beautifully and it will go on for a while then cut right back will come again hiding the Paeonia.
    Hope this helps


  • Classic good advice from someone who is obviously a very good gardener. However, it does require that you have room for a nursery bed where plants can grow on undisturbed for several years and that your peonies do not have to live cheek-by-jowl with other plants in order to get a succession of blooms on a small space. I'm just saying that the usual rules can quite successfully be bent a bit to meet the needs of the garden as a whole, I propagate in pots. When the leaves get tired and messy later in the summer, I cut them back further, still remembering to leave younger ones to do their job of feeding the plant.


  • PalaisglidePalaisglide Posts: 3,171

    Gardening Grandma, as a child we had a smallholding as many did back then, my Father a very keen gardener fed us and the extended family from a walled garden and the animals hens geese ducks we kept. Two Uncles also had farms so really we were well provided for unlike so many at the time.
    That land now has a large four bed roomed house on it and the garden divided into four separate garden, apart from some help from me when old enough Dad did it all himself. His motto was if you cannot eat it or sell it there is no room for it, but then he grew Paeonia, Pinks, Carnations and show stopping Chrysanthemums plus a very long row of Madonna Lily's, I grow them all apart from the lily's.
    Your can quite easily put in a nursery bed along a wall or fence as long as they get some sunlight, as they grow plant in front of them with annual plants low growing to take the eye, many seeds do need to be put in a nursery bed so space can be made.
    I sometimes do not prune down the paeonia until spring leaving the dry foliage as a frost guard, some gardeners prune in Autumn then lay the cuttings over the root ball as frost guard, we all have our ways although as soon as the leaves are dead and dry they stop doing their job and can be cut down if you wish.
    Garden are our individual choice, I do not go with the fashion model makeover etc although my garden has changed as I get older and stiffer.
    I try to answer question where I have knowledge, which is not everything asked, because the people asking have not had the pleasure of being brought up with good gardens. The last forty or more years of a lawn a swing and a bit of a flower bed restricted peoples knowledge, now there is a rush back to vegetable growing, what a treat they are in for when they eat their own produce.


  • A great history in gardening! no wonder you are so knowledgeable. I am a learner, having started gardening in my fifties in a small garden. Much as I'd love more space, I still have a small garden shared with a  family and two dogs. I grow as many shrubs and herbaceous perennials as I can cram in in these circumstances - too many, probably, but I'm a plantoholic. I put them in - with some regard for their needs for light and soil type - and they sink or swim. Most do well and I learn as I care for them. They have to contribute good colour and form and fit in with the needs of other plants. If they get too big, I cut them back as sensitively as I can, or move them, and learn how far I can bend the rules. To me, this is practical flower gardening in a small space.

  • PalaisglidePalaisglide Posts: 3,171

    Gardening Grandma, you are doing what a good gardener does and that is experiment, we all make mistakes it is how we learn, I was looking at a Geum in my garden yesterday that has flowered for nearly two months, it self seeds and the newer plants flower through the older bits. That Geum has been all round the garden over the last few years until I found out where it was happy.
    I do a lot of pots these days as I can lift the pot to a bench and work on it and also move the pots around as they come into flower then go back, that way you get a new outlook and some of the pots can go in between plants where there is a bare spot, it is called killing two stones with one bird, well in my neck of the woods it is.
    You do it your way it is what pleases you and that is the satisfaction of gardening.


  • Well Moonlit Hare, Frank and I have had a good discussion, which I thoroughly enjoyed, but I don't know whether or not you are any further forward in your ideas about pruning peonies! Frank and I have had an amicable disagreement. Perhaps it means that you must consider the basic need of the plant to regenerate using its leaves, but also consider what you want for your garden and the rest of your plants. Hope you enjoy your garden, anyway,

  • Moonlit HareMoonlit Hare Posts: 153

    Thanks all! As ever it's always worth reading in on everyone elses thoughts, and entertaining  Frank and GG. The big one is obviously really happy and if this rain ever stops I'm going to collect the seed and pot them up, if they don't work out I've not lost any money, I don't consider any time spent in the garden wasted!

    The 2 sickly children can stay where they are for now. I have a feeling when we crop back the overhang on the trees and bushes we inherited they might do a bit better, we've only held off to give the spagers, blackbirds and thrush chance to raise a second brood! again they haven't cost me anything because they where liberated from Grannys garden before it was sold off I can always split down the big boy if push comes to shove!

  • i have a sickly one, too. I might have planted it too deep, though I tried not to. I think it is because it is being crowded by very tough and aggressive bearded irises. I'm going to take out the thugs and give it more room. I haven't yet found a spot that really suits irises. They like warmth but the idea of letting them bake in the sun in the Welsh climate is laughable.

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