Peonies: Full, Lush Perennial Flowers
for Your Container Garden

Peonies are, far and away, my favorite flower. With their huge, lush blooms and wide range of colors, they are a must-have for your container garden.

You’ll find cultivars in full, double types and singles. Double-flowering plants, such as the popular light pink ‘Sara Berhart’ and deep crimson red-violet ‘Karl Rosenfield’ make gracious statements in large stone pots on a sunny deck or patio.

And these lovely perennial flowers come in shades of red, pink, mauve, yellow, and pure white. They’ll fit into any color scheme you enjoy from early spring to late summer, depending on the variety you chose.

There are two general types. Paeonia lactiflora or the common bush form (you’ll see these referred to as “herbaceous” as well) and Paeonia suffruticosa or the Japanese tree peony, with its dinner-plate size blooms.

The herbaceous plants can be grown in zones 4-10, while Japanese tree varieties do best from zones 5-8. Another factor to consider in selecting the best type for your container garden is that herbaceous types grow much faster than tree peonies.

You can grow them easily in containers (thankfully!). But there are things to keep in mind when selecting and planting them.

  • Be sure to site these perennial flowers correctly. They need air circulation and sun to perform well and stay healthy.
  • Be sure to water them properly. In rainy weather, or with too much water, they are very prone to fungal disease, which can show up on both leaves and in stem rot. Proper watering, and care in rainy weather can protect them.
  • Be sure to stake them after about the second year in their garden planters. Their blooms are very large and very heavy. They’ll topple if not staked. Containers are great because this is much easier to achieve in planters than in beds.
  • Be sure to pot in large enough containers to accommodate the root system. These plants can tend to get root-bound fairly easily when potted, but with a deep, big pot, you’ll give them lots more time in one container.
  • Be sure to fertilize them properly. This refers to timing and to fertilizer type. They bloom best best with a low-nitrogen fertilizer since high amounts of nitrogen tend to weaken the plant and result in less flowering. Herbaceous types should be fertilized just as the stems emerge and are about 3-4 inches high in spring, then again after flowering, and finally just before winter.

You can find lots more detailed information about planting and caring for your peonies, plus a link to over forty types you can try.

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