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The Tree peony: The Most Beautiful Flowering Plant and it's stages

Updated on August 3, 2014
Vegetation before flowering
Vegetation before flowering
Starting to bud
Starting to bud
Color peeking through
Color peeking through
Look at the size of the buds
Look at the size of the buds
Almost there
Almost there
First flower
First flower
A couple of weeks later a magnificent show of color
A couple of weeks later a magnificent show of color

Tree Peony

In the Midwest summer is right around the corner when my tree peony is in full bloom. My plant displays an array of huge magnificent beautiful red flowers. The color, fragrance, and shape of the tree peony flowers are breath taking. It is by far my favorite plant in my garden and I want to share it with you. I hope that you appreciate and love this plant as much as I do.

The Tree Penies Origin

Tree peonies originated in Asia and with proper care will bloom for 50-80 years. They are appealing as small bushes, but if treated as a large tree will take two to ten years to become established. A 5 to 10 year old tree peony plant is considered a seedling whereas a 20-30 year old plant is still considered young. I purchased my tree peony as a three year old plant and that was six years ago. I remember that I was blessed with three huge blooms following planting the previous fall. These plants take at least five years from seed to flowering. So it is desirable to purchase a plant that is at least three to five years old if flowers are wanted the following spring after planting. It takes that long before the plant stabilizes to produce the flower color and type. My peony tree is approximately three feet high and four feet wide and produces spectacular flowers. I must have at least 20-30 flowers.

When to Plant

Fall is the best season to plant your tree peony because it during this time that the plant develops new roots and recovers for its normal cycle the following spring. The growth cycle is very different from other plants. Main growth occurs in the spring, and then the plant rests during the summer months. During the fall the roots restores and becomes established before the ground freezes.

It is not necessary to fertilize at planting in the fall.

I fertilize my established plant in early spring as soon as the soil is workable with Miracle Grow. I follow the directions on the package and repeat the process throughout the summer into late fall.

My second application is after flowering and final in late fall. It is recommended that a complete organic fertilizer applied three times a year is optimum for a tree peony.

Some years I reduce the amount directed on the Miracle Grow package but that is just my preference. It has not affected my plant either way.

The tree peony should be planted in a well drained location that provides full or partial sun. Choose an area that will allow for growth. Most will grow 4-7 feet tall and 4-5 feet wide. I tend to let my local conditions determine when to water my plant, but a new plant should be watered so that the soil is moist and not saturated until established.

When to prune

I started pruning my tree peony the second year after planting. Pruning provides better ventilation and light penetration. It also encourages larger flower development. I remove all damaged and weak branches and presently have about 5 stems on my tree. Pruning is done when the leaves start to form on my tree and while I can still see the shape of my plant in early spring.

My tree peony was lush, full, and healthy looking. I started pruning the second year after planting.

According to my garden specialist if the tree peony appears weak in the spring after fall planting removal of the flower buds promotes vigorous vegetative and plant growth. Instead of the energy being absorbed by the flowers it will be used to strengthen the tree for the following year. It is worthwhile to forgo flowering to strengthen the tree, although hard to do. But be patient!

Gardening is one of my hobbies and the early bloom on my tree peony gets me out there working the soil. I love this plant. It is hardy, and it has never failed to produce her magnificent flowers despite our bitter cold Midwest winters. The tree peony comes in a variety of colors. I have my eyes set on an orange plant this year. They can be pricey, but are worth every penny.


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