Peonies are blowsy old-fashioned favorites. Their brilliant tones and vigorous petals engage the eye and liven up the landscape. Can peonies grow in pots? Container grown peonies are excellent for the patio but they require a little more care than in ground plants. Choose a big container and come with us to learn how to grow peony in a container.
Can Peonies Grow in Pots?
One of my favorite memories as a child was picking peonies for my grandmother from the big bush that would suddenly appear each year out front. The huge blooms and intense color were her favorite cut bowl blooms. Down the road, apartments were the spaces I had to grow in, and I learned to get really creative. Container grown peonies were part of the menu, in large brightly colored pots. Care for peony in pots must take into consideration the zone you are in, level at which the tubers are planted, and how to retain moisture levels in a container. More than one small space gardener has gotten desperate enough to try large plants in containers. Many bulbs and tubers do great in containers, provided soil is well draining and some special care is attached. Growing peonies in containers is a great way for small space gardeners to enjoy the plants or for anyone to have a big and vigorous colorful bush on their patio. Choose a container that is at least 1 ½ feet (46 cm.) deep and as wide or wider (if it's already in one, you may need to transfer it to a larger pot). Peonies are large bushes that may grow 4 feet (1 m.) tall or more with a similar spread and they need plenty of room to spread their feet. Make sure the container has plenty of drainage holes to prevent tuber rot.
How to Grow Peony in a Container
Once you have a container, it is time to turn your attention to the soil. Soil must be loose and well draining but also fertile. A composition of 65 percent topsoil and 35 percent perlite will ensure drainage. Alternatively, a mixture of compost and peat moss will create a nurturing environment. Plant healthy, firm tubers in spring with their eyes up in 1 ½ to 2 inches (4-5 cm.) of soil over the tops. The planting depth is important if you want flowers, as tubers planted deeper often fail to bloom. You may incorporate some time release granular fertilizer at planting time. Keep the soil evenly moist but not boggy. Once plants are established, they are fairly tolerant of dry periods but containers dry out more quickly than in ground plants, so it is preferable to water when the top few inches (8 cm.) of soil is dry.
Care for Peony in Pots
Peonies thrive in pots in USDA zones 3 to 8. Container grown tubers are more sensitive to freezing than in ground tubers, so it might be a wise idea to move your container indoors for winter to a cool area. This will protect tubers from freezing rain that will damage them. Other than that, growing peonies in containers is very straightforward. Water when the top few inches (8 cm.) is dry, fertilize in spring, and provide some structure for the bush as it grows since the heavy blooms tend to knock over the foliage. You can choose to divide the tubers every five years or so, but disturbing the roots like this will likely delay the next bloom. Peonies are remarkably resistant to most pests and diseases except rot. These elegant plants are garden friendly spring bloomers that should reward you for decades in containers with huge flowers and deeply cut foliage.
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Bonnie Grant is a professional landscaper with a Certification in Urban Gardening. She has been gardening and writing for 15 years. A former professional chef, she has a passion for edible landscaping.
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