Tree Peony Growing Guide

Tree Peony

By Abby Lapides

Coveted Tree Peonies, Paeonia suffruticosa, delight us with enormous blossoms that appear in spring. Loaded with velvety petals in multitudes of colors, their blossoms bring ethereal, exotic beauty to the garden. Tree Peonies are woody shrubs that do not die to the ground like garden peonies. They mature to incredible specimen plants 3-7’ tall depending upon variety. Mature plants are know to have 50 blossoms. Deer and rabbit resistant. Very long lived, they will thrive for 50-100 years or more.

Tree Peonies are grafted plants, with the woody peony growing on an herbaceous peony’s root system. This provides advantages in cold climates. One of the greatest mistakes in planting Tree Peonies is not planting them deeply enough. Grafted plants should have the graft union buried from 4” to 6” below the ground (or more), so that it is well protected from environmental changes. Deep planting promotes growth from below the ground and creates a fuller plant. Burying the root system deeply also allows the stems to root quickly and encourage new bud formation below the ground.

Planting – Tree Peonies are grafted plants. Tree Peonies prefer fall planting. When planting add compost and bury the graft union (bulge on main stem) 4-6” below the soil surface. This will encourage more roots. After planting, only an inch or two of the woody stem may show above the ground. A partially shaded site, protected from the hot afternoon sun, will prolong their magnificent blossoms.

Fertilizing – To get your peonies off to a healthy start we recommend at planting applying an application of Espmoa Organic Bio Tone Starter Plus. The spring after they are planted, after flowering fertilize with Espoma Organic Plant-Tone. This will give them the energy they need to recuperate from blooming and keep a healthy root system.

Pruning – Tree Peonies rarely need pruning except to remove dead wood, although they can be pruned to rejuvenate an old shrub, or to maintain a desired shape and size. The best time to prune is early spring just as their buds are swelling, yet Gardener beware, you will be pruning off spring flowers.

Order Tree Peonies online at www.sugarcreekgardens.com, or find at Sugar Creek Gardens in Kirkwood, Missouri.