Peonies are herbaceous perennials that can grow to be 3’ feet high and just as wide.
These bold plants have large, dark green leaves and big blowsy flowers in shades of deep red, bright pink, rose, peach, yellow and white.
They take up a lot of space and need room for their roots.
Can you grow them in pots? In a word, yes, but it takes some doing.
This article provides a dozen smart tips to help you grow peonies in pots successfully. Read on to learn more.
12 Tips To Successfully Grow Peonies In Pots
1. Choose Correctly
When shopping for peony tubers, check and see if the plant you have in mind will do well in your hardiness zone.
Generally, peonies are winter hardy in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 8. However, some peonies come back year after year, even when winter temperatures drop below zero.
Others will need to be sheltered when temperatures drop below freezing.
It would be best if you also kept in mind that pot plants are much more likely to freeze solid in winter than those planted in the landscape.
Choose a variety that will work well with the level of care you want to provide.
2. Examine Tubers Carefully
Be sure to get firm, healthy tubers. Reject any that are damaged or mushy.
3. Select The Right Container
A peony needs a container that is a minimum of 18″ inches deep and wide. Both the plants and their tubers need plenty of room to spread.
In addition, your container should have ample drainage holes to allow for good air circulation and help prevent tuber rot.
4. Use The Right Soil
Peonies need a light, airy, well-draining, fertile potting mix.
A high-quality commercial potting soil or container soil amended with about a quarter each of perlite and organic compost will do the trick.
5. Plant Correctly
Tubers should be placed in the soil eyes-up and covered with about 2” inches of soil.
Don’t plant any deeper than 2″ inches because this will negatively impact blooming.
6. Plant at the Right Time
Start your peonies early in the springtime.
7. Fertilize with A Good-Quality Fertilizer
Fertilize with good quality, granular time-released fertilizer when you plant your tubers.
Fertilize once a year, early in the spring after that.
8. Place Your Pots in the Right Setting
Your peonies need between 6 and 8 hours of sunlight daily, but they should be protected from harsh, hot sunlight (especially in USDA hardiness zones eight and above).
Be careful not to crowd the plants. They need space for good air circulation.
9. Put Some Support in Place
Put some support in place to prevent your peonies from toppling when they get tall and full of blooms.
A tomato cage or a specially made peony support cage will do the trick.
10. Use the Soak and Dry Watering Method
Use the soak and dry watering method to thoroughly water your peonies when the top 3″ or 4″ inches of soil feel dry.
11. Deadhead flowers regularly
Peony blooms burst into burgeoning color all at once, fading rapidly. When the petals begin falling and turning dark, clip the blooms off. New ones will soon appear.
12. Repot and divide the tubers
Repot and divide the tubers once every 3 or 4 years in the springtime.
Do You Have To Bring Potted Peonies Indoors For The Winter?
If your peonies are placed in a sheltered setting or have fairly mild winters, you may not need to move them.
They may be fine as they are, or perhaps you could cover them with a tarp.
Peonies need to receive approximately a month of temperatures ranging from 32° to 37º degrees Fahrenheit to be vernalized, but if it gets cold enough for the soil and tubers to freeze through, they will die.
If this concerns you, you may wish to move your peonies to an unheated covered polyhouse or greenhouse for the winter.
With Proper Care, You Can Succeed With Potted Peonies
When your space is limited, it can be tempting to try planting large plants in small containers.
This can work as long as you provide the suitable container, the correct soil, and a watering method that will hydrate the plant without drowning it.
Follow the tips presented here to grow peonies successfully in pots.