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How Far Apart To Plant Peonies?

When arranging your garden, the placement of plants, particularly peonies, is more crucial than it might appear. Often overlooked, the spacing of peonies is vital for their health and growth.

To avoid complications, it’s essential to space peonies three to four feet apart. This ensures they have enough room to flourish without competing for resources.

Additionally, in late fall, around mid-November to early December, it’s beneficial to apply a four to six inch layer of mulch over the peonies. Opt for mulching materials that are free of weeds, like straw or pine needles, to provide the best protection and nourishment for the plants.

Herbaceous peonies

Herbaceous peonies are a widely favored type of peony, known for their straightforward cultivation and relatively compact size compared to other varieties.

One well-liked cultivar, Nippon Beauty, reaches a spread of about 2.4 feet (75cm) by the time it is ten years old. To ensure healthy growth and adequate space, it’s advisable to plant Nippon Beauty at least three feet away from neighboring plants.

The Sarah Bernhardt and Barbara varieties of herbaceous peonies can expand to a width of approximately 3 feet (90cm). When planting these varieties, it’s recommended to maintain a spacing of 3.5 to 4 feet from other plants, allowing them ample room to grow and thrive.

Tree peonies

Tree peonies stand out from other types due to their perennial nature; they don’t die back in winter, allowing them to grow larger over time compared to other peony varieties.

Among the smaller tree peonies are the Showanohokori and Souvenir de Maxime Cornu, which can reach up to 3 feet (90cm) in spread. To accommodate their growth, it’s best to plant them at least 4 feet away from other plants.

The Crinkled Fuchsia variety is known to achieve a width of about 4 feet (120 cm) when fully grown. Therefore, ensure that other plants are planted at a distance of 4.5 to 5 feet from this variety to provide sufficient space for its expansion.

One of the most expansive tree peonies is the Paeonia lutea var. ludlowii, which can spread up to an impressive 6.5 feet (200 cm). Given its large size, it is advisable to plant other plants at least 7 feet away from this substantial shrub to ensure enough room for its growth.

The size of peonies is influenced by several key factors

  • Sunlight: Peonies thrive in direct sunlight, which not only enhances their blooming but also tends to increase their overall size. Adequate sunlight is a primary factor in promoting larger growth.
  • Watering: Proper hydration plays a crucial role in the size of peonies. Regular and generous watering, while avoiding overwatering, can lead to peonies growing larger than they otherwise would.
  • Fertilization: Regular feeding or fertilization of peonies can result in not just larger flowers but also an increase in the overall bush size. This can sometimes make the plants more challenging to manage due to their increased size.

Individually, these factors may not significantly impact the size of the peonies. However, when combined, they can contribute to the plant growing about one foot larger than typical. Proper balance and care in these areas are essential for optimal peony growth.

What if the distance between the peonies is too small?

Planting peonies too closely can lead to several issues over time. Within a year or two, these plants can grow and occupy all available space, leading to competition for water and nutrients. Additionally, limited air circulation around the plants can increase the likelihood of diseases.

One immediate remedy is to prune the bushes. By removing some of the side branches, you can create gaps between the plants, allowing for better air movement and reducing the risk of disease.

However, the most effective long-term solution is to transplant the peonies. Relocating them to a more spacious area will alleviate overcrowding, ensuring each plant has adequate resources and space to thrive.

To successfully transplant peonies, timing and technique are key:

  1. Timing: The ideal period for moving peonies is in the spring when the plants have begun to show new growth (“eyes”) but haven’t yet entered a phase of vigorous growth. Opt for a cloudy day, preferably in the morning, to minimize stress on the plants.
  2. Root Ball Handling: Carefully dig up the entire root ball, taking extra care not to damage the roots. This is particularly crucial for tree peonies, which are more sensitive to transplanting. Avoid shaking the soil off the roots.
  3. Site Preparation: Select a sunny location for the transplant. Prepare a hole that is twice the size of the plant’s root ball. Fill half of the hole with a mix of compost and garden soil.
  4. Planting: Place the peony in the hole, ensuring that the stems are not buried deeper than they were previously. The plant should be at the same soil level as it was in its original location. Fill in the remaining space with soil and gently tamp it down.
  5. Watering: After planting, water the peony moderately. Once the water has been absorbed and the soil has settled slightly, add more soil if necessary, and water again. This ensures the plant is well-settled in its new location.

Can you plant peonies close to the house?

It’s advisable to plant peonies a minimum distance of 3-5 feet away from your house. The specific distance depends on the variety of the peony, with larger types requiring more space from the building.

Planting peonies too close to the house can lead to issues with moisture and restricted air circulation. These conditions can potentially harm the plant, leading to illness or poor growth.

Additionally, close proximity to the house may also cause excessive moisture on the walls, potentially resulting in mold growth. To ensure the health of both your peonies and your home, maintaining this recommended distance is crucial.