Peonies Season

Discover the nuances of peony season, from bloom time to planting time.
Paeonia lactiflora  (02) Habit

Paeonia lactiflora (02) Habit

Not sure when peonies’ season is? Several different things determine when peony season occurs. In general, peonies flower at some point in spring, with different types of peonies flowering at different times. Peony season for planting tends to be fall, but peonies sold in pots in garden centers can be planted in spring. Learn more about peonies season.

Herbaceous peony flowers are a mainstay of the spring perennial garden. These hardy plants toss open flowers from late spring into early summer. They are a terrific season-spanning bloomer, adding color when spring bulbs fade and before summer perennials kick into flowering gear. 

Many gardeners traditionally take peonies and bearded iris to cemeteries on Memorial Day. Herbaceous peonies are a traditional perennial to plant on graves because they’re low-maintenance and their flowers appear in time for Memorial Day remembrances. 

In general, herbaceous peony plants (Paeonia lactiflora) flower for seven to 10 days on average. Peonies season for flowering may seem longer because different cultivars open their buds at different points on the calendar. Some varieties are early bloomers, some are mid-season types and others are late season peonies. The flowering windows vary by geographic region, with flowers opening sooner in the calendar year in warmer, more southerly zones than in colder, northern regions. 

Tree peonies’ season for flowering occurs before herbaceous peony plants. Woody tree peonies (Paeonia suffruticosa) open blossoms usually around the start of May in the Mid-Atlantic region. Plants flower sooner in the South and slightly later further north. 

The intersectional hybrid peonies or Itoh hybrids open flowers in concert with some herbaceous peony plants, but their flowering window is much longer. The individual flowers last longer and subsequent secondary branches on the plants also produce and open blooms, which extends the flowering season even more. 

With herbaceous peonies in particular, flowering season can be cut short by a complete failure to bloom. This usually occurs due to not enough sunlight or excessive nitrogen in soil. Lack of flowers can also be caused by roots that are planted too deeply or plants that are simply too young.

Many peonies don’t flower the first spring after planting, and if blossoms do appear, they do not always resemble a typical bloom for that peony plant. By the second spring, flower numbers increase and flower color and size are more normal. 

Peonies’ season for planting occurs in fall. Many new gardeners miss adding peonies to their landscapes because they tend to purchase plants during spring visits to garden centers. Peonies are usually sold bareroot in fall. The idea is that you get the roots into soil in time for plants to develop a healthy root system prior to the arrival of winter weather.

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