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Help, why aren't my peonies blooming? Hobby gardeners ask themselves this again and again. This article provides practical answers. He covers all of the potential causes of peony failures and provides useful tips.


Blooming peonies are one of the biggest garden attractions in early summer. The older the plants get, the more lush the flowers will be. But what if it doesn't happen at all instead? Why is it that peonies are not blooming as desired?

Important: Peonies are more sensitive than other plants. From the location to the planting to the care, every detail has to be right, otherwise there is a risk of a "bare" sight.


The peonies may not bloom because the location is in some way unsuitable. Here is an overview of the key questions.

  • a) Overly shady location?
  • b) Substrate too wet or too dry?
  • c) Soil too compacted?
  • d) Competition from other plants?

To a): Peonies need full sun. If they are too much in the shade, the plants are not able to inspire the hobby gardener with a beautiful flower.

To b): The substrate must be neither too wet nor too dry. Peonies tend to get along better with a rather dry soil. This is because in nature they sometimes grow on rocky ground.

Tip: In order to create the most natural conditions possible for the peonies in your home garden, it is advisable to add sand, lime, gravel and/or small pieces of gravel to the substrate. This also makes the soil more permeable, which is very important, as the next point underlines.

To c): A permeable soil is one of the decisive criteria. If the subsoil is compacted, the water can only drain slowly and poorly. Peonies do not cope with waterlogging at all - they quickly suffer from fungal attack, care and refuse to form flowers.

Tip: If you want to get peonies to bloom perfectly, you need to ensure well-drained soil. Sandy surfaces are ideal. Otherwise you should slim down the fat, loamy planting hole for the peonies yourself by adding sand and/or gravel.

To d): Peonies growing near sprawling shrubs or under tall trees bloom poorly or not at all. They do not tolerate such "competition" for the best light, nutrients, etc.

Tip: Anyone who finds that their own peonies are struggling with competing plants should transplant them to a suitable spot at the beginning of September.

But, there is a "rumor" that you shouldn't transplant the sensitive ones. It is said that they do not bloom for years or die completely. Such a scenario cannot be ruled out completely. However, some hobby gardeners have reported that their peonies soon bloom again after transplanting.

Notice: Nevertheless, peonies should only be transplanted in emergency situations. It is basically true that they have a rather negative attitude towards relocation.

Tip: Anyone who is forced to transplant their peonies in the middle of the year (e.g. due to a move) should cut off as many soil balls as possible when removing the beauties. Then you put the peonies in the new location as deep as in the old one and water them thoroughly.

If possible, it makes sense to divide the peonies on this occasion, because: Two or three smaller parts grow better in an unfamiliar place of activity and sprout more profusely than a large rootstock.

In summary, the main characteristics of the location:

  • full sun instead of shady
  • Rather dry substrate (sand, gravel etc.) instead of wet
  • permeable soil instead of compacted subsoil
  • Freedom instead of competition


The thick, fleshy root bulbs of perennial peonies "want to hear the bells ring," as the popular saying goes. The latter would like to express that the roots of the plant may only be just under the ground.

Tip: Do not plant peonies deeper than two to three centimetres. The best way to check the height is with your fingertips. Only shrub peonies have to be five to ten centimeters below the ground with their grafting point.

The fact is, peonies planted too deep will not bloom. This is one of the most common causes of the problem. If the peony is really too low, raise it as follows in the coming autumn.

1st step: Put a digging fork under the root at a little distance from the peony.

2nd step: Push the rootstock up a bit (to the ideal height).

In addition to the height, the appropriate time for planting also plays an important role. If peonies are planted too late, they often do not bloom. If you don't plant your peonies until spring, you shouldn't expect them to be in full bloom by May or June. First the plants have to take root properly and recharge their batteries. If everything else goes well, they bloom the following year.

Tip: It is best to plant peonies between the end of August and the end of September. The peonies are then in hibernation. They manage without foliage and grow in the new location during the cool months.


Mistakes in care can also be the cause of peonies not flowering:

  • a) pruning too early
  • b) too much pruning (shrub peonies)
  • c) no removal of withered flowers
  • d) over-fertilization with nitrogen
  • e) lack of nutrients
  • f) excessive dryness
  • G) too much humidity/wetness
  • H) Frost Damage (Winter)

To a): Peonies should not be pruned before late October/early November. Then you remove all above-ground parts about a hand's breadth above the ground. If you start earlier, the “internal balance” of the plants will be disturbed, so they may not flower next year.

To b): In the case of shrub peonies in particular, care should be taken to only cut off faded ones. If you remove the new planting of buds, there will also be no flowering in the coming year. A precise and attentive approach is therefore required here.

Tip: A thinning cut (after flowering) is only recommended if the peonies are growing too luxuriantly. In this case, however, only a few long shoots should be removed so that enough flowers remain.

To c): As much as you have to be careful not to remove too much, it is just as important to get rid of faded flowers as soon as possible. Otherwise, the plant will sacrifice too much energy for seed formation, which will result in nothing blooming in the new year.

To d): The peony has developed numerous green leaves, but the flowers are missing (or the flowers are very weak)? This could be due to over-fertilization with nitrogen. Too much of it damages the plants, as the substance promotes (too) rapid growth and soft and unstable leaves.

The consequences: The peonies lack the strength to develop strengthening tissue. In addition, too high a nitrogen content promotes infestation by germs or parasites.

Tip: Nitrogen depletes phosphorus and potassium, two elements peonies need to flower. If you use fertilizers with a high nitrogen content, you should consider adding a fertilizer with phosphorus and potassium. The dose of the nitrogen-rich fertilizer should be reduced accordingly.

To e): A lack of or incorrect nutrient supply can also contribute to peonies not blooming anymore.


Many online posts recommend using compost as fertilizer for peonies. However, this is not advisable, because compost often contains weed seeds. Now, weeds that grow up between the thick roots of the peonies can hardly be removed without damaging those very roots. Not to mention that using compost with peonies encourages a fungal attack that is difficult to impossible to control (compost is wonderful with other plants!).

Tip: Fertilize once in March and once after flowering in mid-June. Ideally use an organic fertilizer and follow the instructions on the packaging. Carefully work in the agent with a small hand claw or digging fork to avoid damaging the roots.

To f): In high heat, the dryness can become excessive. Then you have to water the peonies. Otherwise the flower threatens to fail.

Notice: In principle, peonies are quite undemanding when it comes to water supply. They only needed water during a very extended heat wave lasting weeks (recognizable by the limp leaves).

Train): While older generations require little water, newly planted peonies are relatively thirsty. If the leaves become limp, give them a strong gulp from the watering can, that's enough.

Important: Too much moisture is not good for peonies. It induces a fungal attack and prevents flowering.

To h): Frost damage can also cause missing flowers. If you only plant the peonies in late autumn and do not protect them in winter, the undesirable case may occur.

Tip: It is best to cover the plants in the root area with brushwood.


After the last frosts in February/March, the winter protection should be removed again. If you wait too long, the buds will lie too deep under the light and flowering will not occur.


diseases or pests

If peonies suffer a disease or are attacked by pests, they are unlikely to flower.

Typical illness:

gray mold. It occurs in spring when the weather is damp and often colonizes the flower buds as well as the leaves. The latter then dry up and fall off. A gray mold infestation can be recognized on brownish to blackish colored parts of the plant.

Typical pests:

nematodes. The tiny little beings "want" to prevent the plant from flowering. Leaves that have turned yellow and have dried out at the edges indicate an infestation.


  • Peonies form large clumps over the years
  • unfortunately, the long stems do not withstand heavy rain and wind - they fall over
  • that's why the plants long for a support - suitable perennial holders are available in hardware stores etc
  • some varieties of peonies take longer than others to flower for the first time
  • the experience of many hobby gardeners shows that white peonies need more time - so sometimes it's just a matter of being patient

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