How to Make Peonies Bloom Big With These Simple Tips

Gardeners’ hearts pound when they first see a peony plant bloom. The perennial is prominent for its vibrant, fragrant blossoms.

It is one of the easy-to-care-for perennials that will continue to bloom for years if its specific needs are met.

Getting peonies to bloom can sometimes be challenging if you don’t care to provide the basic needs of the perennial plant.

New Peonies would easily take 2 years to become well-rooted and establish themselves in your garden. Initially, you may only see foliage, followed by one or two flowers.

To have abundant blooming plants in your garden, you must continue to provide ample amounts of sunlight, water, and fertilizers.

The initial hard work and patience will pay you off for years. As mentioned by experts, this perennial can actually continue to grow for 70 years with proper care.

But, if your peony busy isn’t flowering even after 2 years, then you have got some problem that needs to be addressed.

Before you dwell on how to make the blooms big, I recommend learning the reasons why peonies are not blooming.

Why Peonies in Not Blooming?

Whether you’re growing them for cut flowers or to have a colorful garden, it is crucial to provide key growing requirements for peonies.

A small mistake like planting peony roots deeper can impact the flowering of the plant in the coming years.

So, let’s not wait any longer to know the reasons why peonies are not blooming.

1. Peonies Are Not Getting Enough Sunlight

Depending on the cultivar you choose to grow peonies, you need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day to thrive and produce blooms.

In most cases, peonies don’t get the required amount of sunlight, as they might be planted in a shaded area.

To stimulate flowering, consider repotting them in a sunnier spot in your garden to provide them with enough sun exposure.

2. Peony Bush Needs Fertilizer

Peonies require nutrients to produce their vibrant blooms. If the soil is deficient in essential nutrients, your peonies may not flower.

Apply a balanced fertilizer in early spring and again after blooming to ensure your plants have the nutrients they need.

3. Your Peony Is Under Transplant Shock

If you have recently transplanted your peonies, they may be experiencing transplant shock. This can cause the plant to focus on establishing its roots rather than producing flowers.

It may take a year or more for transplanted peonies to recover and start blooming again.

4. You Planted Peony Roots Too Deep

Planting peony roots too deep can prevent them from blooming. The eyes (buds) of herbaceous and intersectional peonies should be no more than 1-2 inches below the soil surface. If planted deeper, the peony may not have enough energy to push up blooms. Replanting at the correct depth can help resolve this issue.

5. Peonies Aren’t Getting Enough Cold

Peonies require a period of cold dormancy to set buds for the next season. If you live in a region with mild winters, your peonies may not get the necessary chilling hours.

In such cases, providing an artificial cold period by mulching with ice or moving potted peonies to a colder location can help.

6. Peony Bud Blast

A peony bud blast occurs when buds form but fail to open, often turning brown and withering away. Various factors, including insufficient light, nutrient deficiencies, or inconsistent watering, can cause this.

Ensuring proper care and maintaining a stable growing environment can prevent bud blast and encourage healthy blooms.

How to Make Peonies Bloom?

peonies blooming

Planting peonies in the right place and at the right time is the first step in growing an abundant flowering plant.

Please go through the growing requirements of peonies so you can provide them with the best growing environment.

Sunlight: At least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily.

Soil: Well-drained, rich in organic matter.

Water: Deep and regular watering, especially during dry spells.

Fertilizer: Balanced fertilizer applied in early spring and after blooming.

Temperature: Requires a period of cold dormancy in winter.

Pests & Diseases: Regular inspection and treatment for pests like aphids and prevention of fungal diseases through proper spacing and hygiene.

Choosing the Right Peony Variety

Selecting the right peony variety is crucial for achieving big blooms. Peonies come in three main types: herbaceous, tree, and intersectional (Itoh) peonies.

Herbaceous peonies die back to the ground each winter, while tree peonies have woody stems that remain year-round. Intersectional peonies are hybrids that combine the best traits of both.

Choose a variety that suits your garden’s climate and conditions for optimal blooming.

Planting Peonies Properly

Proper planting is essential for peonies to establish strong roots and produce large blooms. Follow these steps for planting success:

  • Site Selection: Peonies thrive in full sun, requiring at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. Choose a sunny spot with well-drained soil.
  • Soil Preparation: Enrich the soil with compost to ensure it is fertile and well-drained. Peonies prefer slightly acidic to neutral soil (pH 6.5-7.0).
  • Planting Depth: Plant herbaceous and intersectional peonies with the eyes (buds) 1-2 inches below the soil surface. Tree peonies should have the graft union 4-6 inches below the soil surface.
  • Spacing: Allow 3-4 feet between plants for adequate air circulation and growth.

Watering for Big Blooms

Proper watering is crucial for peonies to produce large, healthy blooms. Here are some watering tips:

  • Make sure to water your plants deeply and regularly, especially during dry periods. Peonies need about 1 inch of water per week.
  • Mulching: Apply a layer of organic mulch around the base of the plants to retain moisture and suppress weeds. Mulch also helps regulate soil temperature.

Fertilizing for Bigger Blooms

Fertilizing peonies can significantly impact the size and health of their blooms. Follow these guidelines for effective fertilization:

  • Balanced Fertilizer: Apply a balanced fertilizer (10-10-10) in early spring when new growth begins. Avoid high-nitrogen fertilizers, as they can promote foliage growth at the expense of blooms.
  • Organic Matter: Incorporate compost or well-rotted manure into the soil annually to improve fertility and soil structure.

Pruning and Deadheading

Proper pruning and deadheading encourage peonies to produce bigger blooms:

  • Deadheading: Remove spent flowers to prevent seed formation and encourage more blooms. Cut the stem just above the first set of healthy leaves.
  • Cutting Back: In late fall, cut back herbaceous peonies to the ground to prevent disease. Tree peonies require minimal pruning, only removing dead or damaged wood.

Providing Support

Large peony blooms can be heavy and may require support to prevent them from drooping or breaking:

  • Staking: Support the stems with peony rings, stakes, or cages. Place the supports early in the growing season to avoid damaging the roots.
  • Caging: Install a peony cage around the plant to support multiple stems and keep the blooms upright.

Ensuring Adequate Sunlight

Sunlight is vital for peony blooms:

  • Full Sun: Ensure your peonies receive at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. Insufficient sunlight can result in fewer and smaller blooms.

Managing Temperature and Cold Dormancy

Peonies require a period of cold dormancy to set buds for the next season:

  • Cold Dormancy: Ensure peonies experience a cold winter period. In regions with mild winters, provide artificial cold by mulching with ice or moving potted peonies to a colder location.

Preventing Pests and Diseases

Healthy peonies are more likely to produce big blooms. Follow these tips to keep your plants healthy:

  • Good Air Circulation: Plant peonies with adequate spacing to reduce humidity and prevent fungal diseases.
  • Regular Inspection: Check for pests like aphids and apply appropriate treatments if necessary.
  • Hygiene: Remove and destroy any diseased foliage to prevent the spread of infections.

Patience and Timing

Peonies may take a few years to establish and produce large blooms:

  • Establishment Period: Peonies can take 2-3 years to become well-established and produce abundant blooms. Be patient and provide consistent care.
  • Dividing: Avoid dividing peonies frequently, as this can disrupt their blooming cycle. If necessary, divide them in the fall every 8-10 years.

How to Take Care of Peonies in the Fall?

Peonies care in the fall is very important to keep the plant blooming for next season.

Cutting or pruning peony plants allows the plant to save energy for the next blooming season.

Not trimming foliage will make it difficult for the plant to bloom.

Apart from cutting, you must prepare the plant for winter. Below are peony fall care tips:

1. Cutting Back Herbaceous Peonies

Herbaceous peonies die back to the ground each year, so their foliage needs to be cut back in the fall. Please wait until the first hard frost blackens the foliage before cutting it back.

Cut the stems down to ground level to prevent the spread of disease and reduce the risk of pests overwintering in the old foliage.

2. Pruning Tree Peonies

Tree peonies do not die back to the ground, so their fall care is different. Remove any dead, diseased, or damaged wood, but avoid heavy pruning since tree peonies bloom on old wood.

Clean up any fallen leaves or debris around the base of the plant to prevent disease.

3. Cleaning Up Around the Plants

Maintaining a clean garden bed is crucial for peony health. Clear away any fallen leaves, stems, and other debris from around your peonies to reduce the risk of fungal diseases and pests.

Remove any weeds that may compete with your peonies for nutrients and water.

4. Mulching

Applying mulch in the fall helps protect peonies during the winter months. Apply a 2-3 inch layer of organic mulch, such as straw, shredded leaves, or compost, around the base of the plants to regulate soil temperature and retain moisture.

For tree peonies, mound the mulch slightly higher around the base to provide extra protection to the graft union and roots.

5. Fertilizing

Feeding peonies in the fall can promote healthy root development. In late fall, apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer (10-10-10) around the base of the plants to provide essential nutrients for root growth.

Incorporate compost or well-rotted manure into the soil to improve soil structure and fertility.

6. Dividing Peonies

Fall is an ideal time to divide and transplant peonies if needed. Divide peonies in late September to early October when the plants are dormant.

Carefully dig up the plant, divide the root clumps into sections with at least 3-5 eyes (buds) each, and replant them at the same depth they were originally growing.

7. Protecting Against Pests and Diseases

Check for signs of pests and diseases before the plants go dormant and treat any issues promptly.

Remove and destroy any diseased plant material to prevent the spread of infections.

8. Watering

Ensure peonies receive deep watering before the ground freezes to help the roots store moisture and nutrients for winter. Avoid overwatering, as waterlogged soil can lead to root rot.

9. Winter Protection

Additional protection may be needed in regions with harsh winters. In areas with severe cold, apply an extra layer of mulch to protect the roots from freezing temperatures.

If your peonies are exposed to strong winds, consider using burlap or other windbreaks to shield them.


Work on your peonies for a couple of years, and they will serve you with their vibrant, fragrant blossoms for the rest of your life.

Key requirements for keeping your peonies blooming are the planting location, proper sunlight, adequate water, and fertilizing.

If your peony isn’t blooming, then ensure your plant gets enough light and nutrients.

Insufficient sun exposure is the common reason why most peonies don’t bloom.

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