By Jackie Carroll
Peonies, with their big, flashy, often fragrant blossoms become the focal point of the garden in spring. The flowers only last a week or two, but by planting different varieties together you can extend the season to up to six weeks. Once the flowers fade, you are left with an attractive shrub with deep-cut leaves. Pruning peonies is easy, and they often require no pruning at all. So how do you know when to trim peonies? Continue reading to find out more about when and how to prune a peony.
Is Pruning of Peony Necessary?
Is pruning of peony necessary, and if so, how do you go about peony pruning? In fact, peonies need very little pruning, but as with any shrub, pruning helps to promote good overall health and the control of insects and diseases. Peony pruning can help maintain the shape of the plant.
When to Trim Peonies
Herbaceous peonies are tender-stemmed plants that die back naturally in fall and regrow again in spring. Cutting back the dead stems to the ground in fall helps prevent insects and diseases and makes the garden look tidy. When you remove the stems, take care not to damage the crown, which is the fleshy part of the plant between the roots and the stems.
Remove stems that are infested with diseases or insects as soon as you discover the problem. Trim tree peony branches to remove damage caused by winter weather and to correct structural problems in spring.
How to Prune a Peony
The first thing you should know about pruning peonies is where to make the cut. The best place to cut a peony stem is just above a healthy bud. If the stem is diseased, make sure you cut back to healthy wood. Do not compost pruned cuttings that are diseased or infested with insects. Burn the stems or bag and discard them instead.
In cases of severe injury or when the plant is overgrown, remove the entire stem by cutting it close to the ground.
When two branches cross and rub against each other, remove the least desirable branch. The friction from constant rubbing creates a wound that serves as an entry point for insects and diseases.
Disbudding is the removal of selected buds to control the size and quantity of the flowers. If you remove the side buds and leave the bud at the tip of a stem, you will get one very large blossom. Removing the terminal bud and leaving those along the sides of the stem results in more but smaller flowers.