Warm Weather Peony Care – Growing A Peony In Hot Weather

Pink Peonies
(Image credit: belovodchenko)

Just because you live in a warm climate doesn’t mean you can grow anything you want. Some plants simply don’t tolerate overly hot conditions, just as most do not appreciate areas that are too cold. But what about peonies for warm climates? Is this possible?

Can You Grow Peony in Hot Weather?

Designated appropriate to grow in USDA hardiness zones 3-7, many gardeners in more southern areas wish to grow the exquisite blooms of the peony plant. Since that’s a large part of the country, growers and hybridizers have experimented to help fulfill this desire for gardeners in the Deep South and California.

Both areas have experienced success with growing heat tolerant peonies. But with more than 3,000 peony cultivars available, some direction in what variety to grow is helpful.

Let’s see what’s available now in the warm weather peony category and even how to work with the old-fashioned peony in hot weather areas. These beautiful blooms need not be limited to those with long winters; however, the size and length of bloom may be diminished in warmer areas.

Choosing Peonies for Warm Climates

Itoh peonies return with lots of blooms in Southern California. These have as many as 50 dinner-plate size blooms per plant during the third and later years after planting. Hybrids with good reports in California include Misaka, with peach-colored flowers; Takata, with dark pink blooms; and Keiko, with pale rosy-pink flowers.

Japanese cultivars are preferable when growing peonies for warm climates. Single blooms that flower early, before it gets too hot, include Doreen, Gay Paree, and Bowl of Beauty. Semi-double blooms in this category include Westerner, Coral Supreme, Coral Charm, and Coral Sunset.

Personal research helps you locate peonies for your warm climate and other extremes. Begin by looking for rain tolerant and heat tolerant peonies. Include your city and state to learn what’s been grown successfully there. With so many cultivars available, it is difficult to cover them all.

How to Grow Peonies in Warm Climates

Take advantage of the cold that’s available to you and:

  • Plant shallowly, only an inch deep (2.5 cm.) in zones 8 and above.
  • Plant in loose, well-draining soil.
  • Don’t mulch, as it may prevent the cold from properly chilling the plant.
  • Plant in the eastern-facing landscape and provide afternoon shade.
  • Condition the soil before planting a peony in hot weather.
  • Select early blooming varieties.

These steps help you get blooms when growing the warm weather peony and maximize whatever cold is available to you. Peonies need about three weeks of nighttime cold at 32 degrees F. (0 C.) or lower to bloom. Amend and enrich the soil before planting and get the location right. The mature, warm weather peony does not tolerate disturbance of the root system.

Ignore the ants that will visit when blooms begin developing – they are just after the flower’s sweet nectar. They will leave soon. Take this opportunity to check for other pests though.

Becca Badgett

Becca Badgett was a regular contributor to Gardening Know How for ten years. Co-author of the book How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden, Becca specializes in succulent and cactus gardening.