Planting peonies in containers shouts “vintage cottage garden.” Peonies provide a splash of color to your garden, upping the aesthetic value and making for a more interesting space overall.
While most people prefer to plant their peonies directly in the ground, you can also grow them successfully in pots if you don’t have much outdoor real estate.
Since they are hardy in USDA plant hardiness zones 3-8, peonies are readily accessible throughout the nation.
Since peony grown in containers are more vulnerable to frost and freezing temperatures, you’ll need a place to bring them inside for the winter. In other words, the harsh winter weather will do them in. Cultivating peony in containers.
Peonies are picky about their growing circumstances.
It’s important to remember the following while cultivating peony in a pot:
- When planting peony, a big container of at least 5 gallons is recommended.
- When planting peonies in pots, choose a spot in the garden that gets at least six to eight hours of sunshine daily.
- Planting peonies requires soilless potting dirt, which may be bought or manufactured at yourself.
- Peonies thrive when grown in a mixture of soilless potting soil, compost, and granular fertilizer.
- Plants need annual maintenance, including bringing them inside for the winter and cutting them down.
- Remember to fertilize and water the plant weekly throughout the summer, giving it an inch of water each time.
Peony plants are perennials and may thrive in your yard for decades.
If plants are cared for appropriately, they may be further subdivided as they grow.
Let’s have a look at how to successfully grow and care for peony plants in pots. It’s not nearly as hard as you may think!
Growing Peonies In Pots: How To Get Started
The beauty of peonies is matched only by their ease of care in a potted setting. Verify that peony can thrive in your climate. They like areas with between 500 and 1,000 hours of freezing temperatures every year. That means lows of about 35 degrees and highs of around 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
Therefore, it may be difficult to get peonies to bloom in USDA hardiness zones 8 and 9. Potentially insufficient downtime may be allotted.
Here are the steps you need to take to successfully cultivate peony in containers.
1. Find The Right Spot For The Container
It is recommended to arrange the container before filling it. Peonies are a pain to relocate after they’ve filled their enormous pots.
- Peonies do best in full sunshine or somewhat shaded settings if the region gets a lot of afternoon sun in the summer.
- If you aren’t sure if you will need to move the pot, try placing it on a board with wheels.
- Although peonies may be grown in pots inside, they flourish outside in the fresh air and sunshine. In order to successfully grow peonies indoors, they should be placed in front of a south or west-facing window that receives direct sunshine throughout the day.
- Peony plants cultivated inside need a grow lamp in addition to natural light. You may use either a grow lamp or a multi-bulb fluorescent light fixture.
2. Choose A Container
Large areas are required for peonies to flourish. The most frequent gardening faux pas is selecting a container that is too small. Each container has to be at least 18 inches deep and 18 inches broad.
You probably need to transfer it to a larger container. Because they may reach heights of 4 feet, the root system is substantial. If the plant seems to be rooted in one place, you should keep an eye on its growth and movement.
The container must have several drainage holes. If you let your peony tubers stay in water for too long, you risk tuber rot, which may kill the tubers and the plant.
- Try to find clay or plastic storage containers that won’t crack in the cold.
- A hefty container will be less likely to topple over in gusty conditions. When fully grown, peonies may reach heights of several feet.
3. Fill The Container With Proper Soil
Peonies are quite particular about the soil conditions in which they are grown. The soil has to be rich and fertile, but it also needs to be sandy and drain well.
- There’s also a 50/25/25 mixture of dirt, compost, and perlite that may work. With this way, perlite aids in water drainage.
- Peonies thrive on a mix of soilless potting dirt and garden compost. Commercial soilless potting soil may be purchased at a garden center or online.
- If you want to cultivate a particularly nutrient-dense setting, a 50/50 mix is another viable alternative.
- Be sure to use a slow-release granular fertilizer on the peony at the time of planting.
- When the peonies start to grow in the spring, you need to dig part of the top layer of potting soil out and replace it with fresh dirt.
4. Plant Peonies In The Pot
Depending on the season, peonies may be planted in either the spring or fall. Other others think fall is best since plants won’t be able to develop before the ground freezes.
Peonies, if planted in the spring, will only flower if they are exposed to cool temperatures for at least a few hours each day. Doing so will prevent them from obtaining them.
- Plant a strong, robust tuber in the ground either in the spring or fall. If you want to plant in the autumn, you should do it at least six weeks before the average first frost date in your location.
- Make sure the container is nearly full. Adding more than an inch or two to the height is probably unrealistic.
- Plant the tubers with the “eyes” up, where the growth buds would be. The top should be covered with 1.5–2 inches of dirt.
- Since they are tubers, planting them at the proper depth is essential. Therefore, if you desire flowers, avoid planting them too deeply. Blooming is rare if at all possible from peony tubers that have been planted too deeply.
- Fill the holes at the bottom with water until it drains.
Caring For Peonies In Containers
Since peonies last for years, it’s crucial to give them the attention they need. With proper maintenance, peonies may live for many years; with forethought, their lifespan might extend into the decades.
1. Keep Them Wet
Soil moisture has to remain consistent without ever being saturated. Root rot in peony is easily caused by overwatering the plant.
- If you wait until the plants are completely mature, they may be able to withstand dry periods.
- Peonies cultivated in containers dry out more quickly than those planted directly in the ground, so frequent checks will be required.
- You should stick your finger in the soil. If the soil is dry about two to three inches down, it needs watering.
- Peonies don’t need a lot of water, so watering them is a breeze. On order to drain water from a pot, fill it to the point when the holes in the bottom are exposed. Don’t dump water on the soil all at once; give it time to soak it up.
- When it’s very hot outdoors, you may need to water twice a day.
2. Fertilize Once A Year
Maintaining healthy peony growth requires regular filling. Feeding is often done in the spring, before the primary growth season begins.
- Fertilize once a month during the growing season, when the plants are actively producing fruit and flowers.
- Apply liquid fertilizer at a ratio of 15-20-15 per gallon of water. The next step is to water the dirt in the pots.
3. Overwinter Inside
Because the tubers of peonies are so easily destroyed by both fertilizing temperatures and frost, bringing them inside for the winter is essential. One of the benefits of planting peony in pots is that you may bring them inside when frost is a threat.
Although peonies like dormancy, they require a rest time of two to three months.
- Dormancy preparations start in late summer or early autumn. Watering your plants less often and letting the soil dry up in between is recommended.
- Even indoor peony plants need a dormant period. As the days become shorter in the fall, these plants need fewer hours of supplemental light.
- When the plant starts to wither and drop its leaves, it’s time to move it inside for the winter. An unheated garage or basement will give enough shelter from the cold.
- Although peonies require water throughout the winter, they should only be watered once per week or so. Dormant peony only need to be watered once a week. Soggy potting soil might be the consequence of overwatering.
- When fresh growth appears in the spring, it is time to move the pots outdoors once again for the growing season.
4. Prune When Needed
Even though peonies are low-maintenance in general, you may need to prune your plants in the autumn or winter. Pruning is a crucial part of keeping plants healthy.
- It’s ideal to cut a peony stem just above a healthy blossom. In order to prune effectively, one must have a firm grasp on the optimal cutting points.
- If a stem has become infected, it should be pruned back to healthy wood. Be sure to prune and dispose of any excess limbs. Don’t add sick or insect-infested trimmings to your compost pile; they’ll only spread the problem and ruin the rest of your pile.
- Check for signs of rubbing between the branches of any intertwined shrubs. This might be detrimental to the plant, thus the weakest branch should be removed. Insects and diseases may more easily enter the body via an open wound.
- Disbudding is a technique for controlling bloom size attained by eliminating certain bud clusters at an early stage. By eliminating the side buds and covering the buds at the top of the stalk, you may encourage the development of larger flowers.
5. Divide Infrequently
About once every five to ten years, you should think about splitting your assets. Attempting this too often might be detrimental to the health of your plant.
Dividing your plant is good for its health, but it will postpone the next flowering time.
The most effective strategy is to divide the root cluster and start new plants. The next step is to promptly replant the broken pieces. They are restricted in how much time they may spend above ground.
- When possible, divide in the fall.
- To prepare the peony plant for division, cut its leaves to the ground. Disappointing news if your plant is large and beautiful.
- Before completely removing the plant, make sure as much dirt as possible is removed from the container. Loosen the dirt around the root ball by gently rocking, massaging, or spraying it with water.
- Pull the roots apart with your hands and cut them into manageable chunks. At least three and no more than five eyeballs should be found in each serving. The next step is to use a sharp knife to cut the root cluster apart.
- The division process has reached the point where the little roots may be removed without damaging the larger, more substantial roots underneath.
- As soon as possible, transplant the original peony in the same spot.
Pests & Diseases That Bug Peonies
Peonies are lucky in that they can withstand attacks from several insects. Fungi are a major problem for peony plants because they relish the destruction they cause. When it rains, plants struggle to thrive.
The following are some problems that might arise.
1. Botrytis Blight
This fungus often appears during the rainy growth season. Cankers on the stems and spots of black or brown on the leaves are frequent symptoms of plant disease. There’s a chance the stems may turn black and wither. Flowers may also form brown buds.
If your peony plants get affected with botrytis blight, you must remove the diseased leaves immediately. During this time, you should also deadhead plants and remove any dead or diseased ones.
2. Powdery Mildew
Hundreds of different types of lants, including peony, are affected by this widespread disease. It will produce a white powdery covering on the plant’s leaves.
Powdery mildew may cause certain plants’ growth to stall, although it has little long-term effect on plant viability. You should prune and get rid of the diseased parts of the plant in the fall.
3. Peony Wilt
Another disease caused by fungi. When peony wilt infects the soil, it may kill the plant. You may ask the local extension service whether the stems have peony wilt.
If you see peony wilt, you have to get rid of the entire plant. Never plant peonies in the same spot again, and if you must, use different soil each time. You’ll have to make a whole new start in the new year.
Varieties Of Peonies To Grow In Pots
Since most peonies are cultivated in the ground, you’ll need to choose a variety that does well in pots. The finest alternatives are those that either remain compact or reach a mature height of typical peony. The following are some examples to think about.
This variety, often called Zhao’s Pink, may reach a height of 3 to 6 feet and a spread of 2 to 4 feet. Though it may seem like a lot, some types of garden plants provide even more yield.
If you’re looking for a more compact choice, CinnabarRed’s height and breadth both clock in at under 2 feet.
Fern Leaf Peony
The mature size of a fern leaf plant is about 1 to 2 feet in height and 12 to 16 inches in width.
Peonies are a kind of perennial plant that may potentially provide months of aesthetic appeal to your yard. They might survive for decades with annual upkeep. If you want your plants to thrive, you need to remember to water and fertilize them regularly. Pick a container that fits your needs.