Peony 101


This page has specific planting and caring instructions for your peony roots.

** Please read ALL the information below to ensure the best outcome for your peony plants **


Which varieties to choose


Possibly the most well-known fact about peonies is that they only flower 7-10 days, once a year. Interestingly, some varieties flower earlier in the season than others. So if you choose varieties that flower early, mid and late in the season, you can extend your peony flowering season to have flowers for up to 6 weeks! We have indicated the flowering season (early, mid & late) for each individual product.


Another important aspect is your climate. Peonies require a period of cold to flower well. If your area is not very cold in winter, your peony plant will not grow well nor flower. In general, a total of 500-1000 hours of temperatures between 0 and 4 C are required. This roughly equates to 20-40 days of cold weather during winter. If you receive frost or snow during winter, it is normally an indication that it is cold enough. Furthermore, the early season varieties require the least amount of “cold/frost days”, mid-season varieties more cold days and late season varieties the most cold days.


In South Africa, areas like the Highveld, KZN midlands, higher up parts of the Western Cape and the eastern Free State are typically cold enough for growing peonies.


In terms of light, all varieties also require full sun during the day. Choose a spot that receives enough morning sun and some afternoon shade.


Planting Procedure


When you receive your peony roots, submerge them in room temperature water for about 30 minutes before planting that same day.

Directly in the garden:

This is a crucial element in the peony growing process. It is important that you plant the roots in fertile & well-draining soil. Good drainage is crucial to prevent the roots from rotting, so add some coarse sand to your soil if you need to improve drainage. Plant with the eyes no deeper than 5cm and pointing upwards. Space your plants 60-100cm from each other and away from other shrubs or trees.


If your area is on the lower end of the required nr of cold days, plant your peony root with the eyes no deeper than 2cm to give it a better chance of going dormant during winter. Directly after planting, water the root well to help it settle in the soil. After planting, watering twice a week will help the root get established.


In containers:

Plant in large containers as the root systems can become large over time. Ensure the container has many drainage holes and water more frequently than you would those planted directly in the garden.



Mulching & Frost protection

Due to the cold period required, peonies should not be mulched as the mulch will only serve to protect the plant from cold. You should only consider mulching them if you receive VERY cold temperatures (less than -20 C) and even then, only a very thin layer of mulch. That being said, if your peony plant has set buds before your last expected frost in spring, you should protect the plants from frost or the flower buds will freeze. 


Growing Care

During the growing season (spring), if your area doesn’t receive water from rain, water deeply every 5 to 7 days. Feeding your plants will help them establish a strong root system – feed at the start of spring and then again in summer.



Your peony plants will flower from mid spring to early summer, depending on the variety. In the first year, your plants will not produce many flowers, but this will increase and by year 3, they will produce well.



At the end of the flowering season, your plants will die down after the first frost and go dormant during the winter before growing again in spring. It is important to clear your plant of dead leaves and stalks because they will harbour fungal diseases.