Gardening Help FAQs

Here are answers to some of the most common questions we receive about garden plants. You will find concise information on general gardening techniques as well as plant selection and care. For detailed information on specific plant pests and problems refer to our Common Garden Pests and Problems page.

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Horticulture Questions and Answers

How do I grow peonies?

Fall is the time to purchase and plant peonies. Choose peonies based on their color, height, and time of bloom. Most peonies bloom in St. Louis in mid to late May. There are double flowered and single flowered varieties available. The single flowered type of peonies usually do not need to be staked and are not ruined by spring showers. Double flowered types, with their heavy heads of bloom, need to be staked. The dark green, glossy mass of foliage remains attractive long after the flowers have faded.

Plant peonies in well drained soil in full sun. They may also be planted in partial shade, but bloom will be reduced. Peony roots are planted in their dormant state in the fall, or very early spring. The peony roots have small pink buds called "eyes" that must be planted facing up. A good division will have 3 to 5 eyes.

Dig each hole two feet wide and 18 inches deep. Work a five gallons bucket of compost, leaf mold or aged manure into the soil and return to the hole. If several plants will be planted in the same area, work the organic matter into the entire planting bed. Plant each division so the top of the root is not more than one and a half inches beneath the soil surface. Do not plant too deeply, as this will result in failure to bloom. Allow three feet in diameter for each plant. Once peonies are established, do not disturb them. They need dividing only when the plants become crowded and flowering or flower size is reduced. This may be only every 8 to 10 years or longer.