How To Prepare Peonies For Winter

How To Prepare Peonies For Winter

When summer has finished Peonies start to shut down, and everything above ground starts to die back. Their leaves turn into a brown color, with an unpleasant squishy texture, as they eventually go dormant in winter. We need to prepare them after the summer has finished, to get them ready for winter.

They need to be cut back a couple of months before winter begins, to clean up the flower garden and reset everything again. Cutting back prevents any disease from forming on the leaves, buds, and stems. It prepares them for their dormancy period, to come back next spring looking more beautiful.

Peonies are hardy, will survive cold winters and don’t need to be moved. So be sure to leave them in the ground and just get them ready for the months ahead. You can do this by following these steps:

For herbaceous bush Peonies

  • Cut all of the foliage all the way down to soil level.
  • Mulching and fertilizing – Peonies get very hungry, so they can be fed a couple of months before winter and again in early spring. But don’t overfeed them by using too much, and be sure to not place any on to the stems. Just place it around the soil, avoiding the plant.

For intersectional Peonies

  • You can either cut everything back all the way down to soil level, or you can cut back down to one of the pink growth buds on the stems.
  • For colder climates, it’s advisable to cut all the way down to soil level. But for warmer climates, you have the additional option of leaving some length on the stems.
  • If you want to leave some length on the stems – Find one of the better pink growth buds (a couple of buds from the ground), and cut the stems just above the bud. Be sure to not damage the bud as you are cutting. 
  • If you see that there are no buds on the stems, just cut all the way down to soil level.
  • Cut the stems on a slight downward angle (angled away from the bud).
  • Mulching and fertilizing – Peonies get very hungry, so they can be fed a couple of months before winter and again in early spring. But don’t overfeed them by using too much, and be sure to not place any on to the stems. Just place it around the soil, avoiding the plant.

For tree Peonies

  • Remove all of the leaves, by pushing them in a downward motion (the leaves should come off quite easily).
  • The woody stems don’t need too much done to them, just cut back any dead wood to just above one of the healthier looking buds. Be sure to not damage the bud as you are cutting.
  • Cut the stems on a slight downward angle (angled away from the bud).
  • Mulching and fertilizing – Peonies get very hungry, so they can be fed a couple of months before winter and again in early spring. But don’t overfeed them by using too much, and be sure to not place any on to the stems. Just place it around the soil, avoiding the plant.

Do not compost the waste

  • Be sure to completely remove all leaves and cuttings out of your yard, do not compost them. If you do compost them, all you are doing is inviting fungus and other diseases to thrive in an area that you really don’t want it to. Fungus and other diseases spread very fast and could affect your plants.
  • Don’t place any cuttings on the ground at any time, because you don’t want anything potentially spreading. Just place them in a bucket and depose of them properly, away from the flower garden.

Conclusion

Peonies are hardy and can survive cold winters, but they need help to be prepared for their dormant period. The foliage needs to be removed so they don’t spread disease, their stems need to be cut back to encourage next years growth, and they also need to be fed to stay healthy. Don’t compost the waste, dispose of them properly, to avoid the spread of disease.

If you do all these tasks, they will come back next spring and summer full of life.

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