Site selection is the single most important factor in determining the success of your peony.
While peonies can thrive in a wide range of soil types (sandy, clay etc), they do have very specific requirements around sunlight and drainage.
Herbaceous and Itoh
Try to select a site with no less than 8 hrs a day. If you have 8 hrs+ that’s even better!
Note: In a pinch, Herbaceous and Itoh peonies can grow and flower in as little as 6 -7 hours sun/day. Just know that you might have weaker growth, and increased chance of foliar disease and a somewhat diminished flowering rate.
To us, that seems like a waste of a perfectly good peony!! So if possible, plant your peonies in full sun and revel in their gloriousness!
Tree peonies generally prefer:
1) full morning sun and afternoon shade or
2) dappled shade throughout the entire day
While tree peonies will grow and flower extremely well in full sun, their flower life will be shorter.
If you have a sunny location where you’d like to plant a tree peony, you can also consider shading the plant only during the bloom period. This will extend the flower life just as well as a shade location.
Herbaceous, Itoh and Tree Peonies cannot tolerate overly wet soil. If your planting spot has drainage issues your peony
- will not thrive,
- will be more disease-prone
- could even die!
When starting our farm, we learned this the hard way. We thought we had carefully avoided all wet areas. However, after planting we learned that 1 planting area did hold water for just for a few weeks in early spring.
This sounds like a small thing but it was enough to put a few beds at risk and substantially slow growth in a few other.
To avoid this issue, monitor the target area for an entire year before you plant. This ensures you’ve selected a site that drains well even in the wettest parts of the year.
That level of diligence may sound like overkill but it ensures you’ll get the very best out of your Lyndaker Farms' Peonies.
Some Bonus Factors
In general, all peonies will perform better and be more disease-free if planted in locations with good airflow.
Fungii like powdery mildew and botrytis love stagnant air. Air flow is one factor that can help prevent them from getting a toe-hold.
However, for northern gardeners growing tree peonies, do consider the prevailing wind in the winter time.
In zones 4 and 5, planting your tree peony in a location not subject to the prevailing winter wind will maximize the number of blooms on your tree peony and reduce winter die-back.
So if you’re in the north, and if you’re growing tree peonies, try to find a location that gets airflow but is not consistently subject to strong winds.
Peonies of all types will suffer if they are in the path of an overhead sprinkler/lawn watering system. If you irrigate your lawn, make sure you do not plant your peonies where they will get irrigated by your system.