Peonies are like visual poetry””they convey so much beauty and feeling! Their cut flowers are a wedding bouquet classic, with hundreds of luscious, layered petals in the most romantic colours. They need their beauty sleep in the winter to prepare for the following year, so if you have peonies in your garden””either newly planted or long established””a bit of fall maintenance is in order!
How to Care for Peonies in Fall to Prepare for Winter
The main task you should focus on for pre-winter peony care is pruning! That is, if you’re dealing with a herbaceous, shrubby peony. If you have tree peonies with a grafted trunk and flowers like crepe paper, those seldom need pruning.
Cut back your peonies with sanitized shears. Make sure to cut just above the crown””the fleshy part between the stem and the roots. If you cut into the crown, this will injure your plant, and it won’t regrow properly the following spring.
What Happens If You Don’t Cut Back Peonies?
Leaving your peonies’ dead foliage intact all through fall and winter makes your plant more susceptible to pest and disease problems. Many of our landscape plants, like ornamental grasses and native flowers, are okay to leave in winter to provide visual interest and shelter for overwintering pollinators. Peonies, however, should definitely get a trim before the winter snow arrives!
If you notice any disease symptoms or suspicious colouring on your peonies’ leaves, dispose of the trimmings in the garbage, not the compost; this will prevent any pathogens from spreading.
Should I Mulch Peonies for Winter?
We always recommend mulching the garden simply for the moisture-conserving and weed-preventing benefits, but it’s also a great insulation for winter. Young and newly planted peonies will definitely benefit from a couple of inches of bark mulch. Big, established plants may be fine without mulch over winter, but it never hurts to add a fresh layer.
Potted Peony Winter Care
Peony roots are safe in the ground over winter, but when they’re in a pot, they’re at risk of completely freezing. However, they do still require cold temperatures over winter to support their dormancy cycle. A great solution would be to keep your pots in an insulated garage””preferably near a warm, sunny window.
Harvesting Seeds from Your Peonies
Peonies produce seed pods that feel like leather when they mature and pop open. Plop the seeds in a glass of water to determine if they are fertile. If they float, they’re unfertilized, but the sinkers are good for starting indoors!
Take your fertile seeds and place them in a small, plastic, sealable bag with a scoop of vermiculite and a splash of water. Keep the bag somewhere that stays between 18″“25 °C. Once the seeds begin to sprout roots, transfer the bag into the fridge for three months.
In spring, you can plant the seeds in the garden and watch them grow into whole new shrubs! You can save a lot of money by starting your plants from seed instead of buying mature starter plants. It just requires a little extra care and time; turn it into a wellness break after a busy day, and we promise you won’t mind the work!
Planting Peonies in Fall
Fall is a great time to plant peonies because the soil is cool and comfortable, and the sun isn’t too intense. Get them in the ground, water them regularly to help them get established, and your plant will ease into dormancy once the winter frost arrives.
Our gorgeous assortment of peonies for sale in Edmonton is selling fast! Visit us soon to get your peonies before we run out. If you have any questions about peony care in preparation for winter, feel free to chat with our staff at Salisbury Greenhouse in Sherwood Park and St. Albert, and we’ll walk you through the steps.