Peonies are some of the most beloved flowering shrubs and are available in a rich variety of colors. While they’re often planted directly in the garden, you can also grow peonies in pots. Keep reading to learn how to plant and care for potted peonies.
Can Peonies Grow in Pots?
Yes, peonies can grow in pots!
If you don’t have access to a garden space, want to brighten your patio with some peonies, or want to try something different, potted peonies can be a great option.
While these flowering shrubs can grow in pots, you’ll need to keep a few things in mind if you want them to thrive.
Selecting a Pot for Peonies
If you want to grow peonies successfully in pots, the first step is to select a proper container.
First, consider the size. Peonies develop deep roots, which means they need deep containers to thrive.
You should choose a container that is at least 20 inches deep and 20 inches wide. However, larger containers are also suitable.
Another thing to look for is drainage holes. Peony tubers can quickly rot if they sit in wet soil so excellent drainage is essential.
The pot’s material doesn’t matter. Terra cotta, ceramic, and plastic are all suitable options.
Caring for Potted Peonies
While growing peonies in pots is similar to growing them in the ground, there are some differences you should take note of.
Choosing a Potting Mix
You won’t use natural soil when you plant a peony in a pot. Instead, you should use a soil mix designed for potted plants.
Look for a peony soil mix that provides excellent drainage yet also holds a bit of water. A peat-based or coco-coir-based soil mix is often a good choice.
Mixing in a few handfuls of aged compost will help add beneficial microorganisms while also helping improve aeration, drainage, and water-holding capacity.
Planting Peonies in Pots
When you plant peonies, proper depth is vital.
If you’re repotting a potted peony plant, make sure the crown of the plant is only an inch or two under the soil. Planting it too deeply can lead to rot and/or reduce flowering during the peony season.
Another option is to plant peony tubers in the fall. If you opt to go this route, plant the tubers one to two inches below the soil surface.
Choosing a Location
You should place potted peonies in a location that receives full or partial sun. These shrubs need at least six hours of daily light to thrive.
As mentioned above, peonies hate sitting in wet soil. They can tolerate a bit of drought but will suffer if the soil is dry for too long.
Therefore, the goal is to keep the soil slightly moist but not wet.
A good rule of thumb is to water the soil when the top two inches of soil are dry. You can stick a finger into the soil to test the moisture level.
Keep in mind that soil in pots will typically dry out more quickly than soil in the ground. That means that you will need to water potted peonies more often than peonies planted directly in the garden.
Since potted peonies are more exposed to the air than peonies that are in the ground, they are more susceptible to cold damage.
If you live in an area where winter temperatures dip below 20ºF, you may want to insulate your potted peonies. You can mulch the tops of the pots with wood chips or leaves and cover the edges with blankets or wood chips.
Another option is to move the pots into a protected area like a garage or covered porch. However, if your peony is in a large pot it may be challenging to move.
If you do bring them indoors, pay attention to the temperature. Peonies require numerous hours of temperatures just above freezing in order for them to produce flowers the following year.
Peony Varieties Well-Suited for Container Growing
While you can try to grow any type of peony in a container, some varieties are better options than others. Here are some cultivars that can grow well in pots.
- ‘Petite Elegance’
- ‘Magical Mystery Tour’
- ‘Border Charm’
Get Started with Potted Peonies
Now that you know how to plant and care for potted peonies, it’s time to get started! Remember to choose a large container, use a well-draining potting mix, and place your plants in a sunny location.
Briana holds a B.S. in Plant Sciences from Penn State University. She manages a small market garden where she grows vegetables and herbs. She also enjoys growing flowers and houseplants at home.