The Q&A Archives: Peonies

Question: I live in the San Bernardino Mountains (altitude about 4500 ft.). Can I grow peonies here? The temperature gets down around middle 20's in the winter.

Answer: Peonies don't mind cold winter temperatures as long as they have excellent drainage. In fact, Peonies bloom best when they've experienced a pronounced winter chill. The foliage will die down after the first frost of the season. When that happens, remove the foliage from the garden and mulch the plants with compost, pine boughs or straw. Peonies should be planted in the early fall. Prepare a deep hole (18") and amend it with compost, refill, then set the tubers no deeper than 2" below the soil surface, with the eyes upward. Finish covering with soil. In the spring new shoots will develop, followed by flowering stems. As the plants become established they will produce larger and larger blooms. Peonies don't like to be disturbed, so divide the clumps only when absolutely necessary.

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