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When & How to Prune Peonies: 3 Expert Tips

White Peonies Flowers

Peonies are gorgeous perennial flowering plants that offer a show of colorful long-lived blooms that last all season. This lovely plant is not that challenging to grow, although, with some regular maintenance, it can thrive and grow to be healthier. It is essential to know precisely how and when to prune peonies to reap all the rewards of full bloom the following year.

In the article below, you can find helpful tips for pruning your peony, ensuring you get a strong, healthy plant.

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The 3 Tips on When & How to Prune Peonies

1. Prune Spent and Dead Flowers

After the blooming season is finished, it would be wise to prune the dead flowers. This method is called “deadheading” and removes spent buds after the bloom. After the flowers are done blooming and are left on the stem, they continue to produce seeds. When you prune the already-spent flowers, you change the energy flow and channel it into the roots, promoting further flower production.

Pruning at this stage does not harm the plant but only prolongs the blooming period before the plant forms seeds. Deadheading is the best way to encourage the plant to strengthen itself, which is why the second bloom usually lasts longer than the first.

How to Prune:

To maintain a healthy peony plant, it is essential to prune it properly. It is crucial to use a pair of sharp and sterilized pruning shears. Deadheading is done by cupping a dead or spent flower at the base and cutting at the stem.

2. Prune Early Flower Buds

Bloomo Flower Peonies
Photo Credit By: Oldiefan, Pixabay

Another way to prune peonies is to cut the early buds. While many gardeners may be skeptical about this method, there are a lot of benefits you can get from doing so. This method is best used for Itoh peonies and tree peonies. This method requires a lot of patience and tolerance because after cutting, you may not even see the gorgeous flower appear that year. Since peonies require a lot of time and energy to create beautiful flowers, the more time they have, they will spend more of their energy on the beautiful bloom.

Pruning them before they bloom will allow them to accumulate energy and get established for the following year. You can expect the peonies to reward you with a fuller bloom the next year.

How to Prune:

Pruning early blooms is best done with a pair of sharp and clean shears. This step is crucial to avoid any infections spreading onto the plant. Prune only the early blooms while making sure to leave the foliage intact.

3. Prune Diseased and Dead Foliage

The most common reason you’ll be pruning your foliage is to remove any diseased or dead parts of the foliage. Peonies are prone to leaf blotch and powdery mildew, so if you notice any of these problems developing, pruning is a crucial step that can save your entire plant. Another reason to prune is when your blooms become entirely yellow or dead at the end of the season. To prune dead foliage or stems, it is best to wait until fall so you don’t prune too soon.

It is okay to prune dead flowers even in the growing season, but make sure not to damage the crown. If you notice your peonies have dense foliage, you can thin it out to increase sun exposure and airflow. Pruning dead peonies is best at the end of fall or after a hard frost when the stems and most of the foliage are dead or yellow. Pruning diseased peonies should be done immediately after spotting the first problems to prevent the disease from spreading.

How to Prune:

Pruning diseased foliage needs to be done in particular conditions to prevent the disease from spreading to the rest of the foliage or other garden plants. Fill a bucket with one part chlorine diluted with nine parts water, which will be your solution for disinfecting the pruning shears after each snip.

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Peonies are stunning flowering plants that generally don’t require much pruning to maintain a healthy and full appearance. After learning how and when to prune your peony plants correctly, you will bask in their gorgeous, colorful spectacle. Knowing the right time to prune is vital to keep your peonies thriving all season long.

Featured Image Credit: Nicole, Pixabay


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