Planting herbaceous Peonies in containers can be successful when certain requirements are met. Because Peonies are long-lived perennials that can reach 4 ft tall and wide, selecting an appropriately proportioned container and placing it in full sunlight are key. You will also want to keep your potted Peonies in an area sheltered from strong winds. Itoh Peonies and Tree Peonies grow larger and grow best in the landscape.
Planting Peonies in Pots
Planting herbaceous Peonies in containers is an excellent way for gardeners limited in space to grow them. Select a wide but shallow container that will accommodate the Peony's mature width, giving plenty of room for both the tubers to spread and to be large enough for the bushy foliage width of up to 4 feet. Peonies should be planted shallowly, just 2 inches below the soil line, so your container only has to be 1 1/2 ft tall. Select a location where the container will receive full sun, at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily, and where it isn’t shaded by nearby trees or building structures. The container must have several drainage holes to allow excess water to escape.
Best Soil For Peonies in Pots
When growing Peonies in containers, the soil must be well draining. Add a few scoops of garden compost if using native garden soil to fill the container, and mix well. You can also use a packaged garden soil product specifically formulated for landscape plants; avoid using soil for houseplants as it may be too light. Peonies enjoy a soil pH between 6.5-7.0; you can find a basic soil test meter at your local garden center to determine your soil pH, and add minerals to the soil in future years depending on how your Peony plant is performing. You can treat acidic soil with calcitic lime to raise the soil pH. Products like Azomite or bone meal will add trace minerals and nutrients to the soil and have been shown to improve root systems and plant vigor, particularly for lean soils. Fertilizers specifically formulated for bulbs work well. Follow the instructions on the package carefully.
Caring For Peonies in Planters
Plant Peony tubers at a shallow depth so they are only covered with about 2 inches of soil. Over time, Peony tubers will grow in large clumps, so the container should allow plenty of room for their clumping tubers to grow and expand. You may need to provide support if your Peonies are top-heavy with blooms, or if your area has high winds or strong rainstorms; using a Peony or tomato cage works well. Alternatively, place four garden stakes in a square at each corner of the plant, and then wrap garden twine to loosely enclose the Peony foliage to provide exterior structure. Remove any dry or diseased stems and foliage throughout the growing season.
Watering Peonies in Pots
Keep the soil evening moist but not soggy, especially during the first growing season and during long periods of summer drought. Water the soil when the first few inches are dry to the touch. Avoid overhead watering as this can promote mildew on Peony foliage. Water the soil around the root zone.
Fertilizing Peonies in Pots
Planting Peonies in good soil with plenty of organic compost will get your plants off to a great start. It is not necessary to fertilize Peonies if they don’t require it. If you do fertilize, bulb fertilizers work well; avoid using fertilizers that have a high nitrogen ratio and avoid manures. A light application can be done directly after the first bloom, and then another application can be added in late summer. Always fertilize around the soil drip line, moistening the soil before applying; follow the package instructions carefully.
Winter Care For Peonies in Pots
Peonies require a dormancy period in winter; they thrive in cooler growing climates, ranging from US Zone 2-8. Depending on your growing zone and container type, you may want to move the container to a more protected area to avoid freeze and thaw cycles, which can damage ceramic pots. You can also wrap the pot in burlap for extra winter protection.
Growing Peonies Indoors
It is not recommended to grow Peonies indoors, as they are landscape/garden plants and will grow best outdoors in US Zones 2-8. Peonies require several weeks of cold exposure to bloom well in the spring.