Deadheading Peonies For Plant Health

If spent peony blooms have you scratching your head wondering what to do, have no fear… this guide will help you understand the simple steps to deadheading peonies.

We will also discuss the reasons why you should put in the effort to clean up your beautiful blooming peony plants post bloom.

Full of color, vibrancy and billowing blooms, peonies are a spring time rush. We wish we could bottle up their fragrance and colorful magic and keep it blooming all summer. But alas….

As peony petals fade, then fall, you may be wondering what you should do with the now unsightly blooms. The rich green foliage of a herbaceous peony plant will be vibrant until first frost, but what about those fading flowers?

Pssst… we are huge advocates for planting multiple peony plants. Then you can enjoy your blooming peonies both in the vase and in the garden!

Peruse our library of peony articles here with our articles about ants on peonies, pink peonies, and how to cut peonies for a vase.

Today we are sharing how to care for your spent peony blooms, how to easily and simply deadhead your peonies, and the reasons why you should take time to give your peony this little bit of extra love and care.

Will Peonies Rebloom If Deadheaded?

First of all, to address the million dollar question, will peonies rebloom if deadheaded? Unfortunately, herbaceous peonies will not rebloom when deadheaded. You can read more about different types of peonies, when they bloom, and how to extend your peony bloom season in this article.

If you need more ideas for lovely cottage flowers, read this!

Reasons To Prune Peonies

If you won’t gain additional blooms, should you bother pruning spent flowers from peonies? Yes! Deadheading unsightly spent peony buds is beneficial for multiple reasons:

  • It’s quick and easy! Deadheading peonies takes very little time, and is easy to do… keep reading for the best tips!
  • Saving Energy Deadheading peonies allows the energy of the plant to go into the the roots of the plant, ensuring healthier and more vibrant blooms in the next season. When blooms are left on the peony, the plant naturally puts energy into creating seeds, which detracts from the energy it can be storing for next year’s flowers
  • Improves Flower Bed Appearance Deadheading peonies will help your garden look neat and tidy. There’s no way around it, spent peony blossoms are just not attractive!
  • Saves Room Trimming spent peonies will keep your plants compact and save room in the flower beds

Peony flowers that are past their prime are unfortunately an eye sore, and they detract from the overall ambiance from the garden. Fortunately, they are easy to remove!

When To Deadhead Spent Peonies

Deadhead spent peony blooms periodically as blooms begin to fade, as well as at the end of the blooming season when you have spent blooms in masse.

Peonies begin to fade after 7-10 days of blooming. If it is a rainy spring, you will find your flowers may take a bit of a beating and not last as long. The petals typically wilt, fade in color, and become brown (slowly wilting away…sad!). See picture below.

More detailed information:

  • As peonies begin to wilt and fade, the peony plant may still have buds that are still in bloom. Simply cut back the spent blooms when they are unsightly
  • At the end of the blooming season, you may have a bush full of wilted peony heads. At this time, cut back all of the blooms.
  • Leave the foliage, it will be beautiful until the first fall frosts (this is when you can cut it back)
  • Try to do this task as soon as you notice the peony blooms have faded. This will encourage the peony to save it’s energy for next year’s blooms.

How + Where To Deadhead Spent Peony Blossoms

There are a few key things to know about deadheading peonies. First and foremost, always use a clean pair of scissors or small garden clippers.

To clean your clippers, dip them in a disinfectant such as bleach. This will remove any disease from other plants. It is a good idea to quickly clean your clippers in between plants as well to ensure you do not spread any existing disease.

To remove the spent peony, follow the stem from the base of your flower head down to the first set of large, strong leaves. Remove the peony at the first set of these established leaves.

Do not cut the peony at the head of the plant, leaving a long stem by itself.

Recap: Use a clean pair of clippers to prune peonies, then follow the spent flower bloom all the way down the flower to the first set of leaves. Make a clean cut there.

What happens if I don’t deadhead peonies?

If the crucial energy saving step of pruning peonies is skipped, the energy of the peony plant goes into the seed head, as shown here.

When carefully pruning the peony, the energy of the plant goes into it’s root system and flowers for the next season.

Eventually, the seed pods will open, revealing black seeds within. Of course, if you want to harvest peony seeds and try growing your own peonies from scratch, you can certainly collect them!

Peonies grown from the seed, however, do not turn into the type of mother peony you collect them from, and they will take about 5 years to grow into mature plants.

Caring For Peony Foliage

Once peony flowers are pruned back, you are left with rich, gorgeous foliage. This foliage will stay healthy looking and full with very little maintenance until the first frost of fall.

Peony foliage needs little care. Deeply water your peony plant foliage about once a week during summer and fall. During particularly hot and dry spells, you may need to water more.

Thank you so much for walking down the garden path with us today to learn all about deadheading peonies!

With their rich hues, flamboyant petals, and lovely fragrance, peonies certainly are one of our favorite flowers. We only wish they could last all summer! We’d love to hear about your flower garden– what types of peonies do you have (and love)?

Let us know if you have any questions, and as always, happy gardening.

Read about hot lips salvia here!

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