Peonies may or may not require careful pruning, depending on the type that you've planted and how full you want the plant to be. Overall, this plant offers gorgeous, lush flowers when given plenty of sunlight and ample room to grow. Although this plant blooms even with little maintenance, pruning every year ensures optimal growth. Armed with these tips, you'll be prepared to care for your peonies and be rewarded with full blooms year after year.
First, avoid pruning within the first year of planting. Instead, clear the area of any unwanted shoots to allow space. Then, trim branches every fall, when you can identify dead or weak branches and prune for next season. Cut these branches until they stand about 3 inches high above soil. While pruning branches, it's also important to pay attention to flower buds. Resist the temptation to keep multiple buds on a branch; in fact, doing so harms the health of the plant. Remove any side buds, leaving the top buds alone; leaving two or three is a general rule of thumb,. You'll be rewarded with fewer, but larger and healthier, peonies.
While expert gardeners debate whether deadheading peonies is necessary, a benefit is that certain flowers would bloom twice as long as usual. A flower that is wilted or drooping is the right candidate for deadheading. Hold the peony to expose the stem, then cut right below the blossom, but above the leaf. Be sure, of course, not to cut any new buds in the process. Continue this process throughout the flowering period.
Always use sharp shears and a bleach solution to clean them after cuts to avoid plant diseases. If necessary, be confident in pruning back the entire tree. As perennials, peonies are sure to flourish when given the right preemptive and aggressive care.