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Professional pruning is one of the mainstays in the care program for peonies. The cut depends on whether it is herbaceous perennial peonies or woody tree peonies. That sounds more complicated than it is. These instructions explain in detail and practically how to prune Paeonia properly. When and how to cut shrub peonies, which pruning tool is recommended and other questions do not remain unanswered here.

Instructions for pruning

Instructions for pruning perennial peonies

They are the undisputed leaders in the ranking of the most popular peony species. Perennial Paeonia survive the winter with overwintering buds in the ground, only to rise like a phoenix from the ashes in early spring. The Blossom Festival runs from April to June.

When a peasant rose has faded, the seeds sprout. Before the cold season, the perennials withdraw for their winter breather. This uncomplicated vegetation cycle leads to an equally simple pruning. If you follow these instructions, the blooming rush will repeat itself reliably for many years.

The right tools and accessories

Before you prune herbaceous peonies, please pay special attention to the cutting tool. The focus is on smooth cuts and the prevention of infectious diseases that may result from contaminated scissors. This brief list of materials is recommended.

  • One-hand bypass scissors with 2 sharp blades are ideal
  • Spiritus or high-proof alcohol for disinfecting
  • a clean rag
  • flexible, non-slip gardening gloves

Before pruning a peony, rub the blades of the scissors meticulously with alcohol or denatured alcohol. Even if the cut surfaces look clean, they can still contain bacteria, viruses and fungal spores that enter the plant webs via the path of the cuts.

Cut during flowering

Pruning during flowering is a matter of choice

A pruning in the middle of the flowering period is not obligatory. Rather, it is up to you to decide whether you want to use scissors in May and June. When the flowers have withered, peonies invest all their energy in securing offspring. Pursue the goal of harvesting the seeds for self-sowing or targeted sowing, let the plant do its thing.

Otherwise, do the following:

  • cut off each withered flower promptly so that no exhausting seed heads develop
  • apply the scissors below the flower, just above the first pair of leaves

In addition, you can cut the most beautiful flower stems so that they spread their floral magic in the vase. In this case, please make sure that all buds have opened and you cut back a stem to 5 cm above the ground. If the vase is cut at the beginning of the flowering period, there is a good chance that the Paeonia will sprout again at this point.

Radical cut before winter

In autumn the foliage becomes unsightly because all the remaining nutrients are now transferred to the roots. When this process is complete, prune all shoots of the perennial to within 5 cm of the ground. The slightly toxic clippings should only be disposed of in the compost if no animals can nibble on them there. Spread one more layer of foliage or sticks on top of the root disc, which will protect dormant overwintering buds from biting frost and snow from November through February.

Instructions for shrub peonies - pruning

Instructions for pruning tree peonies

In contrast to their herbaceous counterparts, tree peonies develop woody shoots and reach a height of 120 to 150 cm, rarely higher. It is obvious that a different pruning is required here in order to preserve the vitality and willingness to flower over many years. The following instructions explain when and how to skilfully cut back woody peonies.

The right tools and accessories

On a young shrub peony, you can still manage well with a bypass secateurs in the first few years. If the ornamental tree grows in size, the older branches also gain strength.

As a result, upgrade the tool inventory like this:

  • a pruning shears for woody peonies up to about 10 years of age
  • a sturdy Japanese saw for older shrub peonies with strong branches
  • robust gloves, sharpening stone and disinfectant

Thoroughly sharpen and disinfect scissors and saw before pruning branches. Frayed cuts on the bark are welcome targets for diseases and pests of all kinds.

Trimming prolongs the flowering period

Thanks to its woody shoots, a tree peony offers numerous variants of vegetative propagation, so that the exhausting growth of the seed heads can be dispensed with. Therefore, cut out each flower as soon as it has faded. Thanks to this prudence, a Paeonia saves a lot of energy, which is diverted to a long flowering period. Prune that branch to just above the next pair of leaves to avoid removing any dormant eyes.

pruning date

The pruning date is in spring

Tree peonies are more sensitive to cold than perennial peonies. You should therefore not cut back branches that are too long before winter. In exposed locations or in severe frost, the shoot tips freeze back a little anyway, so that they serve as a cold buffer for the buds underneath.

This is how the cut runs in regular tracks:

  • Thoroughly thin out tree peonies in spring (end of February/beginning of March).
  • Cut off completely dead branches at the base
  • remove the weaker shoots from shoots that are too close together or rubbing against each other
  • Cut off or tear off water shoots drifting out of the game bed

In the last step, cut back the frozen branches of your peonies into the healthy wood. Shorten branches that have grown out of shape or are too long so that the cut is made a short distance above a bud.

Training cut to the standard

With a growth height of 120-150 cm and the beautiful flowers, the tree peony is predestined for training as a standard. The tree owes its second name tree peony to this circumstance. The decision for this variant of cultivation is still possible in later years and can be combined with pruning.

It's that easy:

  • appoint the strongest middle drive to the trunk
  • on young plants, stabilize the trunk with a support post
  • cut back all competing shoots to the trunk down to the ground in spring
  • Cut off all side shoots along the trunk to the desired crown height

Over the years, you should ideally form a rounded crown with every cut, because this is how the large peony blossoms come into their own. Important to note is that you consistently prune all branches below the crown to astring. As long as the grafted part is still connected to the game substrate, water shoots tirelessly sprout from the root disk. You also cut these off rigorously, since wild shoots always strive to overgrow the noble segment.

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