How To Deadhead Peonies After Blooming (Pruning Guide)

Deadheading peonies after they bloom is an essential step in maintaining the plant’s health. Learn when and how to deadhead these gorgeous blooms in today’s article.

Peonies are gorgeous herbaceous perennials that produce vibrant new blooms each spring.

Though peony flowers are stunning, the bloom time is very short. In just a few weeks time your plant is filled with faded flowers that have lost their vibrancy.

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

bright pink peony flowers

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All you need to deadhead peonies is a pair of clean, sturdy bypass pruning shears. We recommend using Fiskars Garden Clippers (buy here).

Should A Spent Peony Bloom Be Deadheaded?

As peony petals fade and begin to 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? Should you deadhead peonies?

The answer is yes, spent peony blooms should be removed. Removing the spent bloom helps prevent fungal diseases and powdery mildew, and helps put the energy of the peony into the plant’s roots and energy for the following year.

The flower buds have no further purpose but can harbor disease and are unsightly.

The best time to remove spent peonies is right after the bloom has faded. This will prevent the flowers from going into seed production. Peonies bloom in mid to early spring and usually all flowers have bloomed by late spring.

Remove the dead flower with a clean pair of garden shears at the bottom of the flower stalks. This may include some dead foliage around the flower.

field of salmon colored peony 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.

Read on to learn 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 plant the extra love and care of deadheading those faded flowers.

Will Peonies Rebloom If Deadheaded?

Will peonies rebloom if deadheaded? Unfortunately, herbaceous peonies will not bloom again when deadheaded.

You can read more about different types of peonies (such as the tree peony), when they bloom, and how to extend your peony bloom season in this article

coral peony flowers

More ideas for lovely cottage flowers here.

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! Pruning peonies takes very little time and is easy to do. Keep reading for the best tips.
  • Saving Energy Deadheading old blooms allows the energy of the plant to go into the the roots of the plant. This ensures healthier and more vibrant blooms in the next season. When blooms are left on the peony, the plant puts energy into creating seeds, which detracts from the energy it can be storing for next year’s growth.
  • Improves Flower Bed Appearance Deadheading peonies will help your flower garden look neat and tidy. There’s no way around it, spent peony blossoms are just not attractive, although the peony leaves still look great!
  • Prevents Disease: Removing dead blooms can help prevent fungal disease
  • Saves Room Trimming spent peonies will keep your plants compact and save room in the flower beds

Deadheading peony flower heads will not produce new buds. However it will prevent disease and make your garden look cleaner.

pink peony flowers that need to be deadheaded

Peony flowers that are past their prime are an eye sore, and they detract from the overall ambiance from the garden. Fortunately it is a quick and easy job to remove spent flowers from your peony bushes.

When To Deadhead Spent Peonies

For best results, deadhead spent peony blooms periodically as blooms begin to fade, as well as at the end of the peony season when you see many spent flowers.

Peonies begin to fade after 7-10 days of blooming. And in a rainy spring the flowers many not last as long. The petals typically wilt, fade in color, and become brown. 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 individual flowers when they are unsightly with a clean pair of pruning shears
  • 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 (fall is the right time to cut back foliage)
  • Try to do this task as soon as you notice the peony blooms have faded. This will encourage the peony to put it’s energy into any existing flowers as well as it’s roots and leaves.
spent peony flowers that need to be deadheaded from the main peony plant

How + Where To Deadhead Peonies

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 clean your clippers in between plants as well to ensure you do not spread any diseases.

How To Deadhead Peonies: To remove the spent peony, follow the stem from the base of the faded bloom to the first set of large, strong leaves. Remove the peony at the first set of these established leaves.

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

Deadheaded peonies will improve the appearance of your garden as well as the health of your plant!

photo showing how and where to deadhead peony flowers.

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. The tubers store energy that the plant can use as food to support next season’s flowers and foliage.

peony seed pod developing before the peony plant is dead headed

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 seed heads will not grow into the same variety as the mother plant. It takes about 5 years for these new plants to become established.

seed pod on a peony plant before the peony plant is deadheaded

Pruning Peony Foliage In The Fall

Peony plants are herbaceous perennials which means that they stay green year round and come back every year. They burst forth with colorful blooms in the spring, but these beautiful blooms last a short time. The beautiful rich green foliage stays all summer however.

With very little care the leaves can be enjoyed all summer into early fall.

fading pink peony flowers that need to be deadheaded

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.

Peonies need fertile, well-drained soil and do best in full sun.

To keep your plant healthy, remove any dead leaves or diseased leaves with a clean pair of pruners.

Cutting Back Peony Foliage

At the first hard frost, the entire peony plant will die. At this point, you can cut the entire plant back to ground level. This will help prevent disease and allow the peony plant to put it’s energy into new shoots that will emerge the following spring.

A great way to recycle the plant debris is to add it to your compost pile.

Hungry for more spring flowers? Learn how to plant tulips here!


What happens if you don’t deadhead peonies?

If peonies aren’t deadhead, the energy of the plant goes into creating seed pods, instead of into the plant’s tubers. When the plant is deadheaded, the energy of the plant can go into the tubers as food, supporting the growth of the plant and flowers for the following year.

Should I cut the dead heads off peonies?

Yes, once the flower has faded remove the spent flower head. To do this, use a clean pair of garden clippers and remove the flower at the first set of leaves (not just below the flower stem).

How do you keep peonies blooming all summer?

Peonies are a spring blooming plant: different varieties bloom from early to late spring. They will not bloom all summer long, but you can extend the blooming season by planting different peonies varieties that bloom at different times!

Deadheading Tulips + Other Plants

Other flowering plants that bloom just once, such as tulips, need to be deadheaded, but the foliage should remain in place!

Get our guide to deadheading tulips here. You can also learn how to deadhead zinnias, floribunda roses, and dahlias!

Final Thoughts On Deadheading Peonies

Peony plants are famous for their stunning flower blooms that come in a wide variety of colors. Peony flowers have a short life span, blooming for just one to two weeks.

Cutting off spent peony blooms can help prevent the spread of disease within the plant. It also helps clean up the plant and improve the appearance of the garden.

Additionally, the peony plant will have more energy to put into it’s leaves and root growth. Since the plant will not be creating seed pods, it can put its energy into the next growing season.

beautiful pink peony flowers

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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