The Q&A Archives: Mulching Peonies

Question: What depth of mulch should be put around peonies? Will mulch to deep affect their ability to flower as will being planted too deep? The ones I planted will be 3 yrs. this spring, but they have never flowered. I dug them last year and planted them more shallow, so will this affect them? I also planted tree peonies this spring. Do I treat them in the same way as my others?

Answer: Garden peonies resent being planted too deeply, but it is fine to keep a layer of organic mulch two to three inches deep around but not touching the stems. This should not be placed over top of the plant except possibly during the winter when they are dormant. It should be pulled aside in early spring to allow the shoots to awaken naturally with the season.

Peonies normally take several years, three years would not be unusual, to adjust to their new location and begin blooming. Transplanting will reset the cycle, so unfortunately, you may have to wait several years all over again. Good healthy folaige growth throughout the season will help the plant build strength to bloom sooner, so make sure it is growing vigrously all season. In the fall, after frost kills back the tops, gently remove them and mulch lightly.

Tree peonies are similar in that they need full sun and good rich soil to do their best. They should never be cut back, however, because they are shrubs. They may also take a good while to bloom well, and they grow very slowly, so do not be discouraged. Note that, if grafted, these should be planted deeply enough to cover the graft with three to six inches of soil. You may mulch around the shrub, but do not allow the mulch to touch the stem. Good luck with your peonies!

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