Peony Winter Care

Herbaceous Peonies have a high cold tolerance and require several weeks of chilly temperatures between 32-40 degrees F in order to set blooms the following spring. Peony foliage will naturally die back in late fall; you will notice the foliage turning yellow or brown after the first frost, or you can cut herbaceous Peonies back to about an inch above soil level in late fall. Afterward, there is very little you need to do during their winter dormancy. 


Protecting Peonies in Winter

Peonies are extremely cold hardy and need chilly weather to enter their dormancy period and produce blooms the following spring; little needs to be done to protect them in winter. If your growing zone is expecting a severely harsh winter, you can apply a few inches of natural mulch over the plants once you trim the stems down in fall, but be sure to remove the mulch in early spring because the growing nodes or eyes should only ever be planted 2 inches deep. 

Cutting Back Peonies For Winter

Once fall arrives, your Peony foliage may begin to look weathered and dry. The foliage will naturally die back to the ground, but if you want to get a jump on tidying up the plant, take sterilized garden shears and cut the fading foliage back to about an inch from soil level. Discard the foliage, and do not compost it to avoid spreading any fungal spores. 


Peonies Winter Care in Pots

Although Peonies enjoy cold weather, keep potted peonies protected from harsh winds and severe freeze/thaw cycles. You can place the pots in a shed or garage if temperatures reach below 10 degrees F for extended periods. Keep the soil slightly moist in the pot and allow the container to dry out in between waterings. If you’ve dug up a mature Peony plant in the fall, but haven’t figured out where to plant it by the time the first frost arrives, you can pot the bare roots up in the fall. Be sure each division has 3-5 eyes, store the pots in a protected, cool location, and then transplant them once you find a location in your garden in early spring. 

Watering Peonies in Winter

It isn’t necessary to water Peonies during their dormant winter months when planted in the landscape. You can give your Peony plants a deep soak in fall, but otherwise, Peonies will do fine without added care. If you are keeping Peonies in pots in a protected location during winter, water them very lightly and let the soil dry out completely in between waterings.

Growing Peonies Indoors

It is not recommended to grow Peonies indoors, as they need a cold period to enter winter dormancy and grow best as a landscape plant. 

Steps To Care For Peonies in Winter

Peonies are quite winter hardy and have a high cold tolerance. They require weeks of cold temperatures to put on the best bloom show in spring. Simply remove Peony foliage in late fall and allow the plants to go into their natural dormant phase.

Step 1 - Use sterilized garden shears to trim back Peony foliage

Step 2 - Cut foliage back in fall to an inch above soil level

Step 3 - Discard foliage, do not compost


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Author Chris Link - Published 02-14-2023