Why Your Peony Buds But Never Flowers

Image by Jim Capaldi

By Heather Rhoades

The peony is like the grand matriarch of the garden; regal and stunning but unashamedly particular in how it thinks you should treat it. It knows exactly what it likes. It likes sun, a bit of a chill, not too deep and it likes it exactly where it is. If you don’t provide it with exactly what it wants, a peony will cause problems.

Many times, the problems that people say they have is that a peony just won’t bloom. But sometimes, the problem isn’t getting the buds. The problem is that the buds won’t open.

The buds will develop on a perfectly healthy pant but then suddenly they turn brown and shrivel up. Many a peony owner’s hopes have been dashed this way. The good news is that the same thing that may cause a peony not to produce blooms is also the same culprits to look for when the buds die. Let’s take a look at a few.

Is Your Peony Growing in Full Sun?


Peonies need sun to produce blooms. It could be that the plant got enough sun in early spring to generate the buds but a nearby tree grew back its leaves and the sun is now blocked. The buds die because the plants no longer get enough sun to support the blossoms.

Has Your Peony Been Fertilized?

If your peony is unable to bring up enough nutrients from the soil, they may not be able to support the buds. Because peonies do not like to be moved and do not like to be buried too deeply, it can be difficult to incorporate sufficient fertilizer to the area. Try applying a liquid fertilizer, like a compost tea or a seaweed emulsion.

When was Your Peony Planted or Last Moved?

Peonies don’t like to be moved. It can take years for a peony to recover from the shock of being moved. If your peony was planted or re-planted in the past four years, it just may be feeling sullen. Their buds will turn into flowers eventually.

Is Your Peony Planted at the Right Depth?

Peonies do not like to be planted deeply. The eye buds on the tubers should be above the soil level, not below it. If your peony is planted too deeply, you will need to replant it, though this will probably delay blooming for a few years. But think of it this way, better to wait a few years for a peony flower than not at all.

Does Your Peony Get Enough Cold?

If you live in a warmer climate, your peony may not get enough cold in the cold months. Peonies need a certain amount of cold weather in order to set buds and to flower. Your peony may be getting just enough cold weather to produce the buds but not enough to make it the last bit to flower. If you suspect that this is your problem, make sure to create an environment that might add a little bit more cold. In cold months, do not mulch or protect the area your peony is growing.

Try to remove any barriers that may be blocking the wind from your peony bed in the winter. While this may seem counter intuitive, if you live on the edge of how much cold a peony needs to fully flower, this may be the little extra your peony needs to make that flower.

Be patient with your peony. She may be picky but she is well worth the catering in order to enjoy her flowers.

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