Should You Deadhead Peonies? Expert Advice on Benefits of Removing Spent Flower Heads

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By Ashley Hanson

Updated: Jun 12, 2024

8 min read

Deadhead Peonies
Photo: @vangogh_flowers

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    Peonies return annually with stunning flowers in spring and can thrive for over a century, potentially outlasting their caretakers. They prefer cold winters for flowering and have a long history of cultivation in different parts of the world, gaining popularity in the 19th century in Victorian gardens.

    Despite variations in color and size, peonies are cherished for their vibrant blooms and strength, remaining a top choice for gardeners. Regular deadheading promotes plant health and encourages new growth, ensuring peonies remain vibrant and well-maintained.

    Also Read: Effective Ways to Kill Grass in Flower Bed

    Peony Care: Tips for Healthy Growth

    Tips for Healthy Peonies Growth
    Photo: @plant.vibrations


    To begin cultivating peonies, your initial task involves sourcing high-quality bare roots; varieties like Festiva Maxima and Sarah Bernhardt thrive particularly well in the hot and humid climate. However, with the abundance of remarkable options available, selecting the right one can be challenging.

    It's advisable to plant peonies in autumn to allow ample time for root establishment before spring; typically, mid-November or even October works well. When choosing a planting site, ensure it offers good drainage and receives 6-8 hours of sunlight daily.


    Now that you've found the perfect spot, space the plants 3-4 feet apart. For each plant, dig a hole large enough for the root, add a couple of inches of nutrient-rich soil or compost at the bottom, place the root with the eyes facing upwards, and cover so the eyes are just 1 or 2 inches below the surface.

    Avoid planting deeper than 1 inch, as it can hinder blooming. Opt for mulching instead of fertilizing for weed control, applying it twice a year - once in early spring for small plants and again later in the season for larger ones.


    To maintain the plant's health, regularly remove spent blooms and trim any leaves. After the first hard frost, typically in late October or early November, we cut the plants back to ground level. Refrain from using any sprays and instead focus on removing diseased leaves. Cutting the plants back after frost ensures they thrive the following spring.

    Remember to thoroughly clean your garden of diseased foliage and avoid using it for compost or mulch. If you wish to store peonies for a few months, harvest them when they reach the marshmallow stage, soft to the touch with some color but not fully open, and store them dry in the fridge or cooler.

    Deadheading Peonies: Maximizing Blooms and Promoting Health

    Deadheading Peonies
    Photo: Gardeners' Word

    By promptly deadheading, plants redirect energy into more blooms, maintaining garden aesthetics and promoting plant health.

    Benefits of deadheading include promoting new and good growth by redirecting the plant's energy from seed production to creating fresh blooms. It also aids in reducing pests and diseases by removing potential feeding sites and improving airflow around the plant.

    Deadheading keeps plants looking tidy by preventing unsightly fading blooms and limiting the spread of petals, which can harbor pests and hinder other plants' photosynthesis. Additionally, it helps control seed formation, allowing for selective cultivation or providing a food source for birds while also conserving the plant's energy by delaying the onset of seed production.

    Deadheading Peonies for Attractive Appeal

    Peonies readily shed their petals, so it is advisable to remove spent blooms before they clutter your garden. Use sharp secateurs to cut the flower and its stem just above the nearest leaves. Consistently deadheading peonies promotes air circulation and maintains plant health.


    Removing dead blooms from Peonies perennials is a simple task that requires a sharp pair of secateurs. You can also pinch off some flower stalks with your fingers. For plants with multiple blooms on one stem, pluck off each fading flower individually and trim the stem once all blooms have wilted. Perennials with deadheading are a great way to prolong peonies and promote healthy growth in your garden.


    How to Deadhead Peonies?

    Snipping the flower should be more than enough but if you need a neat look you can follow the stem of the flower and cut it half an inch above the leaves.

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