Guide on spring care for beautiful peonies

Spring is the eagerly awaited season when gardens come back to life, and among the stars of this floral renaissance are peonies. Welcome to my guide on spring care for beautiful peonies, including essential tips to ensure your peonies thrive during the spring season.


When the ground thaws and when buds begin to appear, and before new shoots start to emerge, take the time to gently clean the soil around your peonies.

Remove winter protections from tree peonies when temperatures allow.

Clear away old forgotten stems, particularly on Itoh peonies, weeds, and dead leaves to allow air and water to reach the growing roots. Also, make sure to remove any accumulated mulch from winter, as it could impede the growth of new shoots or promote the spread of diseases.

Oak leaves covering the peony buds in spring

One of the most exciting moments for any peony enthusiast in spring is undoubtedly when the first buds begin to break through the soil.

Do not to worry if some of your peonies seem to be taking their time to show their first signs of life. Peonies comprise numerous varieties, each with its own spring awakening schedule. Some emerge early, while others, slower-paced, require a bit more time to prepare for the upcoming growing season. This variation is entirely normal and shouldn’t be a cause for concern.

This diversity in bud timing can prove advantageous, extending the period during which your garden enjoys the presence of peonies. Patience is therefore key, as each bud holds the promise of a future spectacular bloom. Allow each plant the time it needs to develop at its own pace, and you’ll be rewarded with the splendor and variety of your peonies in full bloom. [Read more on the seasons of peonies]

Protection for late frost

Peonies typically exhibit resilience to late frost, although there are instances where floral buds may burst. In my Zone 5 garden, I generally don’t employ protection during spring. However, I am observing dried floral buds on certain specimens of tree peonies following a mid-April snowstorm this year. I may consider taking additional precautions next year to safeguard against such occurrences.

Moderate fertilization

In early spring, just before buds begin to form, apply around the crown some compost or organic fertilizer to provide the plants with the essential nutrients they need without risking root burn. Potassium sulfate is recommended to contribute to root development. Moderate fertilization will help stimulate stem growth.


Spring often brings fluctuations in precipitation, so it’s essential to closely monitor the soil moisture around your peonies. Only water during dry periods. Avoid water accumulation that could lead to root rot. Well-drained soil is essential. And never water the flowers!

Stem support

Herbaceous peonies, with their large flowers, may sometimes need additional support to prevent the stems from bending under the weight of the blooms. For varieties that require it, install discreet yet sturdy plant supports around your peonies in early spring, before the stems become too tall. This will elegantly support the stems and prevent them from breaking or sagging when laden with flowers.

Keep simple stakes on hand for peonies whose stems stand well but whose flowers are too heavy and might break.

Phytosanitary care

Peonies are sometimes susceptible to fungal diseases such as gray mold (Botrytis) or powdery mildew. Learn to recognize their early symptoms. To prevent these issues, avoid excessive moisture by spacing plants well to encourage air circulation. If signs of fungal diseases appear, promptly remove the affected parts of the plant.

I also recommend preventive treatments with iodine or the use of a low-impact fungicide based on copper or sulfur.


It’s preferable to plant peony roots in the autumn. If you acquire a potted peony in spring, you can plant it in the garden as soon as possible. Otherwise, dig a hole and plant the pot directly in the soil until its final planting in autumn.

More on growing peonies

For more essential tips on growing beautiful peonies during spring, summer, and fall, check more posts about peonies, including Why is my peony not blooming?

My peony garden in early June 2023
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