The professional cut is one of the main pillars of a successful cultivation of peonies. The fact that the magnificent peony genus gives us both bushy perennials and shrubs is a headache. Do not wonder any longer about the skilful cut. These instructions show: This is how it works in a few minutes.

Cutting peonies – this is how it works in a few minutes

The right pruning sets the course for a splendid bloom on peonies. The professional pruning depends largely on whether you are looking at a bushy herbaceous shrub or a woody type of shrub. As a result, it is hardly surprising that this aspect of care causes headaches among hobby gardeners. Don’t bother with unanswered questions any longer, because here you will find the horticultural tools to cut your peonies properly. This is how it works in a few minutes.


Perennial peonies play the first fiddle in picturesque cottage gardens, romantic borders and lush pots. The combination of opulent abundance of flowers and moderate care requirements makes a significant contribution to this. As is typical for herbaceous perennials, the peony retracts its plant parts after the first frost. Only the root ball in the ground hibernates in order to sprout again next year.

Material list
In order to cut your peony perennial according to all the rules of gardening, the following materials and tools are required:

  • Hand secateurs in brand quality
  • Stable gardening gloves
  • High-proof alcohol and a cloth for disinfecting

Make sure you take the time to meticulously disinfect your secateurs. Even the smallest cuts open the door for pests, viruses, fungal spores and bacteria to infestation.


If you choose the date carefully, you are also making an important contribution to maintaining the vitality of your herbaceous peony. When the gardening season draws to a close, the root ball begins to pull in the stems and leaves. The roots assimilate all remaining nutrients in order to create a supply for the next flowering period. So wait until the foliage has turned yellow and gradually turns brown. Under normal weather conditions this is the case during the months of October and November. If your garden is in a winter-gray region, leave the drawn-in plant parts on the plant as natural winter protection until the next spring and only then cut.


If the prepared scissors and gloves are ready at the right time, the actual incision only takes a few minutes of your time. How to do it right:

  • Grasp the peony with one hand
  • Use the scissors to cut off all the shoots as close to the ground as possible

Only dispose of the stems and leaves on the compost if no diseases are evident. Otherwise, throw the clippings in the household rubbish.

Tip: The withered flower heads are cut off during the flowering period before the individual petals fall to the ground. This measure effectively prevents fungal diseases and prevents self-sowing.

Shrub Peonies

In ornamental gardens and parks, woody peony bushes are less common than their perennial counterparts. This may be due to the fact that the cut proves to be a little tricky. Since peony bushes always bloom on the branches of the previous year, careless pruning can destroy this year’s bloom. So briefly delve into the following lines so that you are spared this annoyance.


  • Stable rose scissors or a pair of vine scissors in brand quality
  • Fine Japanese saw for thick branches and adult shrubs
  • Gloves, alcohol for disinfecting and a grindstone


Basically, a shrub peony is not pruned in the actual sense, but rather a cleaning cut at the end of the gardening season. Choose an overcast, frost-free day in November or December for maintenance. As long as Godmother Frost doesn’t knock on the garden door, a day from January to March is also an option.


Sharpen and disinfect the cutting tool just before starting work to make sure there are no viruses, fungal spores or bacteria on it. Following this short preparation, the cut is completed in no time:

  • Cut off shoots that are too long to the first bud
  • Do not remove branches with buds
  • In addition, remove the remaining leaves to prevent fungal infections
  • Thinning out the entire shrub peony by cutting or sawing off dead wood at the base

Examine each branch individually to set the scissors 2-3 mm above a dormant bud. Moving the scissors or saw at a slight angle helps rainwater run off more quickly, which in turn helps prevent disease.

Tip : A harsh winter of -20 degrees and colder can freeze the shoots of a peony back. In this case, wait for fresh budding in spring. Cut the affected branches into the healthy wood just before a healthy bud.

Plant pruning

After planting a young shrub peony, take a few minutes to prune it. If you cut back all shoots by half to two thirds, this measure promotes further branching and a compact habit. Proceed in a similar way with perennial peonies, which should be pitted once or twice at the beginning of the season. This little effort also leads to a dense, bushy growth of strong shoots.

Cut wild shoots immediately

If you cultivate a refined shrub peony, nasal shoots appear during the year that sprout up from the wild underlay. These tend to overgrow the hybrid tea rose within a short period of time. So stay on the heels of wild shoots and cut them off immediately. The removal is more effective if these bolts are torn off with a brave jerk. The less plant material from the wild shoots that remains on the affected peony, the less chance it will be able to sprout again.


After reading this guide, there is no longer any doubt about how to prune peonies. If the blooming beauty thrives as a herbaceous perennial, cut back close to the ground in October or November as soon as the foliage has completely yellowed. A little more caution is required when pruning a shrub peony. Too long shoots are cut off at most to the first bud between November and December. Whoever cuts deeper deprives himself of next year’s flower festival. There is no need to worry if a harsh winter freezes the branches back. In this case, use the scissors again in March to shorten the shoots to the healthy wood just before the first bud.

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