Plant Now: Peonies

Rich bunch of peoniesWhite peoniesIf you’re lucky enough to live in a cool climate (I never thought I would say that!), you can plant peonies now. Peonies need a certain amount of chilling before they bloom, so they’re not suited to warm areas. They won’t produce for about three years, but once they do they’ll continue blooming for years.

Peonies thrive in rich, free-draining soil in full sun. Do not plant them too deeply. The growing eyes should sit about 5cm below the soil surface. If you plant them too deeply they simply won’t flower. Keep them away from other plants as far as possible (at least 1m) and clear away any weeds. A general garden fertiliser given once a year in spring is ideal, but choose one that’s not so high in nitrogen otherwise plants may become more susceptible to fungal diseases. A potato fertiliser is ideal; it’s high in phosphate and potassium and low in nitrogen.


  1. Beautiful! I do love peonies, though my garden’s too warm for them. on a different tack, i’ve been wondering what fertiliser to use for gardenias… would a potato work for them?

    • Hi Karen
      Gardenias like an acid soil so it’s best to feed them acidic fertilisers. Something like Burnets Sequestron is ideal, though you can use any acid food. Also, if the water in your area is hard, water your plants with rainwater. Gardenias hate lime, and hard water is water that has high mineral content, mainly calcium – in the form of limestone and chalk – and magnesium ions.
      Hope that helps. Jane

  2. Hi, wondering if there is an art to replanting peonies. Guessing now would be the time to do it? I know someone who has a giant patch of them and wouldn’t mind if I took a few (lucky me!). Thanks Nicola

    • Hi Nicola
      Lucky you, indeed! Yes, now is a good time to replant your peonies (presuming you live in NZ). Cut the stems near to ground level, then carefully dig around each plant. Dig up as much of the root system as possible. Plant as soon as possible as per the instructions above, being careful not damage the crown both when moving and planting. Plant in a cultivated, weed-free spot.

      • Great thanks for the tip, I’ll go raid the garden this weekend. (The house belongs to a male in his young 20’s who sees a garden as more of an inconvenience than anything else!)

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