Peonies offer swoon-worthy blossoms that resemble luscious scoops of ice cream with a heavenly fragrance. There’s a reason people often pay up to $20 per stem to have them in wedding bouquets. When we announced their arrival on our Facebook page, though, the first response from many Dallas gardeners was: “I thought we couldn’t grow them here!”
Good news: we can.
As with most plants, success is all about the site and the soil. After that, peonies are surprisingly tough perennials that return year-after-year.
In our area, hot summer temperatures can scorch peonies when the afternoon sun hits them directly. While peonies like full sun, it’s best if their exposure is from sunrise to about 1 pm here. Even then, peonies are at their best in spring, during bloom. The foliage tends to shaggy and ungainly after that, so cluster them with other perennials of varying heights that can take the stage as blooms fade.
Peonies will appreciate well-drained soil (never any standing water) thoroughly amended with plenty of organic matter. While any good organic compost will do, they prefer an acidic soil and will be happy in garden soil amended with acidified cotton burr compost, one of our favorite products. Mulch them well after planting and re-apply mulch at least twice per year.
Peonies produce a fairly large plant–herbaceous types are frequently about 3×3, and with all those big blooms, they’ll appreciate support–both physical support and extra nutrition. We like to give them Espoma Holly-Tone, an organic fertilizer blended for acid-loving plants. It’s easily worked into the soil and watered in to growing plants.
Hoops and grid supports will help give your peony blossoms a lift and keep them from falling into the mud after a heavy rain. Place the hoops at the first signs of growth so that you can easily work the growing stems through the spaces, where they can adjust.
We currently have a variety of herbaceous peonies in stock in shades of pink, cream and crimson red. Stop in soon to speak with a Garden Advisor and see just how easy it is to have these stunning blooms in your garden.