Should Peonies be Deadheaded?

Peonies are lovely herbaceous plants that bloom for only a short period of time, between late spring and early summer. Towards the end of their blooming period, they'll start to fade and wither up, and that's how you'll know if they're spent. A great question to ask is should peonies be deadheaded? I've done some research and have an answer to this important question.

Yes, peonies should be deadheaded. Deadheading peonies helps them focus their energy on root growth and healthy leaves instead of seed production, and this in turn results in healthier plants.

There is more to this answer, of course. We will be going into more detail regarding deadheading peonies down below, so if you're interested please keep reading.

Portrait of smiling beautiful middle age female gardener. Woman working with secateur in domestic garden at summer day. Gardening activity- Should Peonies be Deadheaded


Deadheading Peonies

Natural garden plants peonies have faded, Fading pink peony in garden. Completion of flowering. Aging. Peony bush with fading flowers.

There are a few reasons to consider deadheading your peonies at the end of their cycle, when they are wilted and drooping. Altogether, deadheading peonies keeps them healthy and looking beautiful. The peony down below is wilting and drooping, and should be deadheaded.

Healthier Plant

Deadheading spent blooms from peonies is actually helpful to your peonies' health. Removing the spent flowers stops the plant producing seed pods; instead, the peony can use the energy it would use to produce seeds to storing food supplies. That stored food in turn will help supply the energy needs for the following year's flowering and growth.

Disease Prevention

Peony flowers tend to develop fungal diseases as they begin to wilt and rot, like botrytis. Botrytis fungi produces spores and develops along the base of rotting stalks and can survive over winter. If not taken care of, in the spring these same spores can form again and spread to dying blooms and infect them. As the disease progresses, a gray mold will develop and spread to other stems and blooms, potentially affecting the health of the entire peony.

Additionally, it's important to properly dispose of spent blooms after deadheading. Do not compost them, in case they are infected with botrytis or another fungal disease.

Longer Blooms

Through deadheading, peonies may be encouraged to bloom for twice as long as they normally would. By deadheading spent blooms, more energy can be used to maintain healthy blooms longer. On top of that, varieties of peonies that produce multiple buds per stem may be coaxed into the production of a few more blooms than they normally would.

Visual Appeal

Last but certainly not least, deadheading wilted and drooping peony blooms helps your plants appear more visually pleasing. Wilting flowers can often lead to rot, which can attract unwanted insects and create a sorry looking peony plant. These peonies below have been well taken care of and are pleasing to look at.

How to Deadhead Peonies

Peony living and the dead. Flowers bloomed and wilted. The concept of life and death.

Now that we have covered the reasons for deadheading wilting peonies, let's take a look at a quick step by step guide on how to deadhead spent blooms.

1. Carefully examine the spent blooms. Are there other flower buds on the same stem? You don't want to cut off any potential blooms.

2. If there are other buds, simply snip off the spent flower head. If there are no other buds, you can follow the flower stem into the plant and make the cut about an inch or so above the foliage so that you don't have an empty stem protruding.

3. Make sure your shears are clean, as dirty shears can help promote bacterial growth and harm your plant.

4. Dispose of the cuttings into the garbage. Composting them can spread harmful diseases.

Should You Deadhead Tree Peonies?

Once beautiful pink peonie flowers are now dying and drooping as they reach the last stages of life in a Missouri yard. Bokeh.

Yes, you should deadhead tree peonies. Deadheading tree peonies is a bit different from deadheading other peonies. Instead of delicate green stems, tree peonies have woody stems that can grow a bit thick. In the winter, wood can be damaged and even killed off. Remove damaged and deadwood in the late spring by cutting it away, placing your cuts above an outward-facing bud. The stems should be cut at an angle.

Tree Peony Disease and Pests

Tree peonies are also susceptible to botrytis, though its effects aren't as evident as they are with herbaceous peonies. With tree peonies, their new shoots can suddenly wilt and turn brown. The buds can wilt without even opening, and a white fuzzy mold can develop. When botrytis is discovered, the affected portion should be immediately cut away and disposed of.

Tree ponies are also susceptible to rose borer, which can infest the wood and leave small holes, causing the branches to wilt. The borer adults lay their eggs inside the wood, and the holes in the branches are the most common sign that they are present. When this is noticed, the damaged areas should be removed and disposed of. Prune back the branch several inches past the affected area.

Dabbing a bit of glue onto wounds caused by pruning tree peonies is a technique used by gardeners. When the glue dries, it'll form a barrier that'll prevent insects from laying their eggs inside and will help keep your tree peonies healthy.

Will Peonies Bloom More Than Once?

Pink Peonies in bloom

Peonies bloom only once a year, for approximately 7 to 10 days. If you are watering your peonies regularly, take care of them, and deadhead when appropriate, your peony plant will remain healthy and will be ready to bloom again the following year.

However, not every type of peony flowers at the same time. If you are looking to fill your garden with continuous blooms, try planting a variety of different peonies that bloom at different times in the season. Some bloom early in the season while others will bloom later in the season.

We hope you enjoyed this post and found it helpful! Deadheading peonies is important for the overall plant health, and the process differs from tree peonies. Happy gardening!

Should Peonies be Deadheaded?

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