How to Grow Peonies in Pots and Containers at Home

While peonies are often planted directly in the garden, you can also successfully grow peonies in pots. In my experience, this does require some extra care as both herbaceous and tree peonies have deep root systems and prefer spacious environments, so choosing the right pot and conditions is crucial for success. Here are my essential tips for growing peonies in containers.

Can Peonies Grow in Pots?

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 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

A single pink to purple peony flower blooms in a container garden indoors

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 reduce flowering during the peony season.

Another option is to plant peony tubers in the fall. If you 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.

Watering

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 moist but not wet.

A good rule of thumb is to water peonies when the top two inches are dry. You can stick a finger into the soil to test the moisture level.

Remember that pot soil will typically dry out more quickly than soil in the ground. That means you must water potted peonies more often than peonies planted directly in the garden.

Overwintering

Most types of peonies can be grown well in USDA hardiness zones 3–9. However, you may need to provide extra winter protection for potted peonies.

Since potted peonies are more exposed to the air than peonies 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 to produce flowers the following year.

Peony Varieties Well-Suited for Container Growing

Soft yellow peony flowers growing in a pot against deep green leaves

While you can try to grow any peony in a container, some varieties are better options than others. Here are some cultivars that can grow well in pots.

  • ‘Petite Elegance’
  • ‘Bartzella’
  • ‘Magical Mystery Tour’
  • ‘Dublin’
  • ‘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.

Contributing Editor | briana@petalrepublic.com | Full Bio

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.

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