Growing Great Peonies


There are a few flowers that when I see them, even a picture, or read about them, my memory is activated and I take a journey back to my childhood and my mother’s garden. Hollyhocks are one. The peony is another.

The family backyard was a place for play, outdoor meals and where the dog, roamed. It was also where my mother and father tended their gardens.

Dad raised tomatoes and mom a variety of flowers. Our table, throughout the growing season, was always supplied with fresh cut flowers

There was a small bed just outside the kitchen door where chamomile grew and just across from that there was a peony bush. The peony was the first thing I saw when I stepped outside the door and entered the magical world that was my backyard.

The backyard, in those days, was a well-used space. We played croquet and had a BBQ on the weekends that we did not go to our cottage. On summer nights we would sit outback and watch the dance between the wind, birds, bees and butterflies that graced the space.

I used to watch the peony come to life and was fascinated by the ants that swarmed over it; mom used to say that the ants helped to tickle the peony buds open and that relationship intrigued me.

Even now, when I know that it is the sugars that are produced by the plant that attract the ants, I still enjoy the thought that the ants play a role in wakening the flower. It may be fantasy but it is engaging.

Peonies are perennials which have a long life. In order to best take advantage of the this longevity take the time to prepare the site well; just as important make sure the plants you purchase are good quality.

Peonies will not make many demands upon your time and will reward you with foliage all season long and magnificent blooms.

Soil: Peonies enjoy a well drained and sunny spot. To settle them in properly to their new home, you first will dig a hole that is larger than the root. Be sure to add either bone meal or compost.

Planting: First you put the peony in the prepared hole and then backfill. Make sure that the crown buds should be no more then 2 inches below the soil surface. If you pant the peony too deep, you may not see flowers for several years and this will be most disappointing.

Watering: One of my favourite aspects of peony care is the fact that they are drought tolerant. In the first year, if there is a prolonged dry period, you are best to water.

You can cut off the spent blooms when the plant has completed flowering but leave foliage in order to produce strong roots.

Peonies will add splendor to your garden, both front and back and indeed can help enhance your home’s curb appeal when planted in your front yard.

If you do not have at least one peony in your garden, give this beauty some thought; you will be happy that you did.


courtesy, flickr/normanack
courtesy, flickr/normanack

dividing peonies

tree peonies

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Comments 16 comments

Bonnie Ramsey profile image

Bonnie Ramsey 8 years ago from United States

Great hub, Bob! The peony is my Mom's favorite flower and for as long as I can remember, she has had one growing in the front yard. several years ago, it had gotten so big that she split it off and now has two huge peony plants which are absolutely gorgeous when in full bloom! We moved on that land when I was 2 years old and I am now 46. I can't even remember what that spot looked like without that peony! Thanks for the memories and the great tips!


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick Author

You are welcome and thanks for stopping by.

SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 8 years ago from Southern California, USA

You are such a wonderful gardener and really inspire me. I wish I had a green thumb. Thanks for the interesting hub.

Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick Author

Thank you sweetiepie, but anyone who wants to can garden; you don't need a green thumb, just a little time, a little space and a little knowledge and desire to grow plants.

Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet 8 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

I need to try my hand at these Bob. I love them but have never grown them. thanks for the info!

Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick Author

you are welcome.

First Eagle profile image

First Eagle 8 years ago

Thank you Bob.

It reminds me about my grandmothers garden. I feel that when I see a beautiful flower I stress down and my shouders fall down. They do something with you.

First Eagle, Thor Einar

Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick Author

I get a similar reaction, calm and renewing.

Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 8 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area

I always love your hubs Bob and your personal stories- it sounds like your backyard was a magical place!

My neighbor gave me a peony and I didn't plant it deep enough, so I lost it. Then I bought 2, and sold the house where they were planted. I brought one with me though and replanted it last year - but I'm not seeing any signs of it, so I may have lost it.

If I did I'm getting another one because I love them!

Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick Author

Thanks Dorsi, my childhood backyard was magical.

In The Doghouse profile image

In The Doghouse 8 years ago from California


Peonies are my absolute favorite flower! Unfortunately they do not grow in Southern California. I believe it is because we do not get a proper frost. I have tried to grow them to no avail. The are actually quite expensive, even at the wholesale level.

Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick Author

They are pricey, i was at the plant nursery, looking for a shrub or maybe rose bush for our new place; the front or ratherr side yard needs something and took a look at the peonies, good thing there is already one on site. :)

moonlake profile image

moonlake 8 years ago from America

My peonies were beautiful this year. They are one flower that grows well way up north.

Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick Author

Thanks for dropping by.

RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

Perhaps your mom's insight into the ants' role in the life of peonies was more than scientists might give her credit for! :)

Thanks for a great hub highlighting peonies. Would like to link it to mine on peonies, if you don't mind.

Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 5 years ago from New Brunswick Author

I have invested some time in trying to find a causal relationship between ants and peonies but none yet. Thanks for dropping by, happy growing.

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