How to Grow Peonies in Pots

Peonies are amazing flowers that come in every color but blue and can live to be up to 100 years old! Peonies come in so many different shapes and sizes and have a long line of history in many different cultures. They are traditionally grown in the ground but can thrive in pots with the right care. So, how do you grow beautiful Peonies in pots? We researched and broke it down into three easy steps!

  • Picking a healthy plant, good soil, and a suitable container is vital.
  • Plant your peonies in a good spot and care for their daily needs.
  • Prune, feed, and rest your peonies to help them thrive.

Growing Peonies in pots is relatively similar to growing them in the ground. The significant difference is they are more susceptible to freezing, making the pruning step especially vital.

How to Grow Peonies in Pots

Let’s take a closer look at these steps to help your potted Peonies thrive.

Step 1: Pick

Choosing a Suitable Peony

There are many different varieties of peonies. From the large Zhao Fen (from 3 to 6 feet tall) to smaller varieties like Cinnabar Red (around 2 feet tall), so it is essential to pick a variety that suits your needs. It is best to choose a small variation for container growing.

Looking for a peony that will dazzle anyone who sees it? Check out the Bowl of Beauty peony. This peony stands above the rest as it has even won the Award of Garden Merit. For more information, check out this article we wrote on growing the Bowl of Beauty peony.

For more ideas on what peony suits you, check out this page.

What Are The Best Kinds of Containers to Grow Peonies in? [Including examples]

Peonies must be grown in large containers with good drainage. A pot that is at least 12 inches (30 cm) and holds 10 to 20-gallons is recommended. Anything from a half whiskey barrel to a fabric pot or some other large size pot would work. Get creative with it!

Need some ideas? Here are a few great peony containers on Amazon!

Whiskey Barrel Planter

whiskey barrel planter on Amazon.

Check this whiskey barrel planter out here on Amazon.

This Whiskey barrel planter is an excellent option because it is unique and has a flair that a lot of large pots do not. It also already has drainage holes so you won’t need to mess with making any yourself. It comes in multiple sizes, so if you plan to put your peony in it, be sure to pick one that holds 10 gallons or more.

Smart Pot

SmartPot out Amazon.

Check this SmartPot out on Amazon.

What Smart Pots lack in beauty they make up for in practicality. Initially developed for commercial use, smart pots are known for providing proper aeration that allows the plants to grow a well-developed root system.

One pitfall of the smart pots is they are not the easiest to move in large sizes. If you plan to move your plants often, you may want to get smart pots that have handles or invest in a plant dolly.

Self-Watering Pot

self-watering planter on Amazon.

Check the self-watering planter out here on Amazon.

This self-watering planter is a more “typical” pot and comes in a variety of colors to suit your needs and fit any environment. It is practical if you go on vacation often, as it waters the plants for a prolonged period. However, if you get rain often, this may not be the best option as overwatering peonies can lead to root rot.

Plant Dolly

plant dolly on Amazon.

Check out this plant dolly on Amazon.

Pro tip: If you are going to move the plant around a lot, a pot with wheels or you can put on a dolly is a good choice.

Any dolly will work for moving your plants, but this dolly is especially for plant pots and can sit under them, which makes this product a great alternative to getting a container with wheels. It would be very convenient if you want to move your plants often or do not want to move it on and off the dolly. Because it is solid, it would work well for plants that are inside and for plants that need a base.

However, be sure to pick a size that suits your pot.

Be sure to choose a pot large enough to support the size of your peony, and some will grow taller than others.

Step 2: Plant

Peony plants grow and are planted just like most flowers. Plant your peony, so the root is at or just below the soil. Autumn and early winter are the best time to plant, but they can be planted at any time of the year.

When you plant your peony, it is a good idea to add a handful or so of fertilizer and water the plant to establish it. Whatever you do, do not overwater newly planted peonies. Overwatering young peonies is one of the biggest reasons for budding plant failure and death.

Peonies grow best and have the most blooms in full sun. They are very adaptable and will grow in partial shade, but will not develop as many blooms.

Peonies are drought-tolerant, so they do not need too much water. About one inch of water a week is ideal. It is important not to overwater your peonies as they are susceptible to rot. Be sure not to leave standing water. If there is standing water in your peonies, you have overwatered.

Step 3: Prune

Peonies are generally very low maintenance, but when fall and winter come around, it is essential to prune your plants. This not only keeps your garden looking clean and well maintained but also helps prepare the peonies for their winter rest.

Peonies need a rest period during the winter.  This helps them prepare to bloom in the spring. If you live in a warm hardiness zone (such as zones 9 and 10), they may not bloom if the winter is mild.

Peonies in the ground can withstand freezing temperatures, but potted peonies are more vulnerable. If you know a hard freeze is coming, move them into the house or garage, if possible. If it is not possible to move potted peonies indoors, cover the soil with a layer of mulch, compost, or fertilizer. This will help to insulate the soil and keep the tubers from freezing.

Regardless, it is recommended to fertilize immediately after planting and every spring. While peonies can survive without fertilizer, they may not thrive or bloom as well.

You should divide peonies every five years or when they seem crowded. However, dividing or transplanting them may delay the next bloom.

Are Coffee Grounds Good for Peonies?

Coffee grounds are a wonderful source of nitrogen that can be added to the soil. However, coffee grounds are acidic and should not be added to plants if you already have acidic soil or the plants are not acid-loving. Peonies are not acid-loving and prefer a slightly alkaline (basic) soil.

However, when it comes to peonies, adding coffee grounds to the soil comes with a perk that may make them worth the risk. Coffee grounds deter ants. It is no secret that ants love peonies and can be an unwelcome gest, especially if your peony is indoors.

When it comes to peonies, it is your choice on whether or not you want to incorporate coffee grounds into your soil. Still, it is crucial not to overdo it or risk making your soil too acidic

Related articles

Need to know more? For more information about peonies, check out these articles:

16 Peony Companion Plants That Will Look Great in Your Garden

Cardinal Vaughan Peony

When and How to Use Fertilizer for Peonies

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