Peonies that don’t bloom can be a huge disappointment. Its profuse colorful blooms make for a spectacular backyard display in late spring and early summer, so a lack of flowers is a major disappointment.
There are a variety of reasons why peonies don’t bloom, including gardeners not knowing how to grow peonies and when to plant peonies, as well as issues like extreme weather, pests, and disease, so becoming familiar with them is important Issues that may affect these extravagant flowers.
To help you figure out what’s causing the no-shows in your garden, we’ve put together an expert’s guide.
Why aren’t my peonies blooming?
“Peonies can be quite stubborn when it comes to blooming,” says Davin Eberhardt, CEO of Nature of Home (opens in new tab). “Reasons for this can be lack of sunlight, wrong planting, wrong fertilization or plants that are too young.”
We’ve covered these issues below, along with the rest of the ways why peonies aren’t blooming.
Peonies don’t bloom because they’re in the shade
A major cause of peonies not blooming is a lack of sun. Peonies like full sun, although some grow in dappled shade. “If your peonies aren’t budding, it may be because they were planted where there is too much shade and they don’t get at least six hours of direct sunlight,” says Joe Taylor, founder of home improvement and gardening magazine PlumbJoe (opens in new tab).
Peonies don’t bloom because they’re planted too deep
It is important not to plant peonies too deep. If this is the case, the peony may still have healthy leaves, but it won’t produce many — or maybe none — blooms.
How deep should you plant a peony? The crown should be no more than 2 inches below the soil surface when you plant peonies. When backfilling, be careful not to let the root end any lower, and be careful when adding mulch.
Peonies don’t flower because of excess nitrogen
Another reason why peonies don’t bloom? “You’re feeding your peonies more than they need to,” says Joe Taylor.
Peonies in nutrient-rich and fertile soil do not need to be fed, otherwise annual fertilization with a balanced complete fertilizer makes sense. However, using a fertilizer with too much nitrogen can encourage foliage growth but result in fewer buds. For example, look for a fertilizer with a 5-10-10 ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to help the peonies bloom.
If you are already using a fertilizer suitable for peonies, you may want to do a soil test through a local consultancy and seek advice on improving the soil.
Peonies do not bloom as they have been replanted
Another reason peonies don’t bloom very well could be that they’re new to your garden. Peonies take three to four years to bloom well, so yours may just need more time. However, peonies live a very long time, so your initial patience will be rewarded in the long run.
Peonies do not bloom after transplanting
While peonies can be transplanted (contrary to myth), they can take some time to bloom again, so this could be why yours aren’t blooming. Be sure to move them when they are dormant in the fall, being careful not to disturb the root ball, and move them to their new location as soon as possible.
Peonies not blooming after a dry spring
In summer, peonies are fairly drought tolerant, but in spring, when flower buds are forming, they need plenty of water, and a lack of it could be the cause of peonies not blooming as they should. In spring, keep an eye on the soil and don’t let it dry out.
Peonies bud but do not bloom
It may be that your peonies bud, but the buds don’t open into blooms, and if that’s the case, there are a few different possible explanations for why you’re missing out on their extravagant blooms.
“If your peonies have buds that won’t open, one reason may be that your peonies have recently experienced a hard freeze,” says Joe Taylor.
If there is a late frost just before flowering, the peony buds may be damaged. If this has already happened, there is nothing you can do, but it is worth keeping an eye on the weather forecast and protecting the peonies with fleece on stakes if there is a threat of frost.
Although peonies are generally easy to care for, it is possible for fungal diseases to attack the buds. To prevent this, top them off in the spring and cut back the foliage in the fall.
Thrips can feast on peony buds—as well as the leaves—in the spring, deforming the buds. Unfortunately, you are unlikely to see them before they damage the plant.