Fall Peony Care: Tips & Tricks For Big Blooms Next Spring

With just a little fall peony care, these perennials will look lovely for decades! Follow these simple tips in fall to make sure your peonies are set for spring.

Dying peony foliage in fall.
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Fall peony care is important to keep these beautiful perennials happy and help them last a long time. Peonies are a cherished addition to the home landscape. Long-lived and dependable, peony plants are prized for their gorgeous blooms and seasonal beauty. Despite their ease of growth, they need some special attention. This is especially true as temperatures begin to cool. Let's look at how to care for peonies in fall and the different needs of the most popular peony varieties.

Fall Care for Established Peonies

Here are the three most important tasks gardeners need to do for peonies in fall to keep established plants happy:

Cut Back Foliage

Peony care in fall starts with the arrival of cooler weather. By this time, the plant’s foliage is probably already starting to deteriorate. Yellowing or spotted leaves are especially unattractive and often denote the presence of disease. By the first freeze of the season it’s likely that the plant’s foliage will have died back completely. Once this occurs, all foliage can be trimmed back to the soil level. All plant matter should be removed from the garden and disposed of to prevent the likelihood of disease in the coming season.

Divide, If Needed

Fall care for peony plants may also involve division. This is a good choice when the plants become exceptionally large, or when you simply wish to multiply your favorite varieties. Removing all foliage from the plant is the first step of this process.

To divide a peony, first dig around the plant, carefully working in a large circle. Since an established root system can be quite extensive, make your best effort to clear as much of it from the soil as possible. Cut apart the roots, making certain to leave at least 3-5 eyes on each section. New roots can then be planted directly into the garden.


Peonies can be fertilized early in the season, before the production of flowers. The plants will also benefit from feeding in the fall. Sidedressing peonies with a balanced, slow-release granular feed is preferred, aiding in root development before the arrival of winter. For the best results, make certain to avoid fertilizers that are especially high in nitrogen.

Fall Care for New Peonies

Newly planted peonies require different care than older, established plants in fall. Here's how to make sure your new peonies get off to a good start:

Plant Tubers or Divided Peonies

Fall is the ideal time to plant peony tubers and divided roots. Planting in autumn will allow for a longer period of establishment before new growth begins in spring. Peony roots should be planted into well-amended beds with each growing eye facing upward. Be careful not to plant too deeply, as doing so may negatively affect the peony’s ability to bloom.


After planting, water each new peony root thoroughly. This will help the soil to settle, as well as aid in growth. New plantings of peonies only seldom require supplemental water throughout the winter. However, they can be watered if conditions are especially dry or warm.


After planting, you may want to apply some light mulch atop new peony beds. While mulching will help to protect the roots from the cold, it will also prevent heaving. Heaving occurs when plants are lifted from soil due to seasonal fluctuations in temperature, like cycles of freezing and thawing. All mulch should be removed from beds in the spring, before new growth begins to emerge from the soil.

Tree Peony Fall Care

Tree peonies have many of the same needs as common garden peonies, but there are few differences. Here's what you need to do to prepare these woody perennials for winter:


Much like with an established herbaceous peony, fall care for tree peonies requires fertilization. Plants can be side-dressed with a balanced, slow-release feed just after their leaves have started to fall. Avoid feeds with high amounts of nitrogen, as the primary goal at this time is not to encourage leaf growth, but to aid in root development.


Tree peonies grow exceptionally well when mulched. In fact, the plants will benefit from the use of a generous layer, spanning towards their dripline. Mulching will also help to regulate temperature and maintain soil moisture levels throughout the season. Some growers have even found hilling the plant to be an effective management technique.

Itoh Peony Care in the Fall

Care for Itoh peonies in fall is very similar to that of herbaceous types. After the foliage has died back, each plant can be trimmed to soil level. Plant matter can then be removed from the garden. Though new plantings may require mulch in their first season, established Itoh peonies will require exposure to cold temperatures throughout winter in order to bloom their best.

Tonya Barnett

Tonya Barnett has been gardening for 13 years. Flowers are her passion. She has trasformed her backyard into a cut flower garden, which she regularly chronicles on her YouTube channel http://www.youtube.com/@tonyawiththeflowers.