Peonies (Paeonia) are mainly planted in the garden bed, but can they also be cultivated in a pot or tub? The expert knows the answer and gives valuable care tips.
Table of Contents
The best care is useless if the peony is in a suboptimal location. The location for the peony is particularly important as a pot/tub plant, because this forms the indispensable basis for growth and the further care steps are only based on this. In particular, keeping on balconies and/or in front of walls can increase the susceptibility of peonies to fungal infections. The ideal location for these peonies has the following requirements:
- Airy location to reduce risk of fungal infections but still sheltered from the wind
- Sunny, at least four hours of sun (more sun favors flowering)
- No heat build-up, which quickly forms on walled balconies and terraces – then only pot if the location faces east or west
- Winter location: see “Hibernation”
pot and/or tub
A peony does not mind whether a pot or tub is chosen for planting, provided certain conditions are met. However, they grow strongly and quickly, so that a robust plant pot is usually better than a thin-walled pot made of ceramic, for example. The following should be considered when selecting a vessel:
- Better to choose too big than too small
- Small pots are absolutely unsuitable because of rapid growth
- Recommended pot size: diameter of at least 40 centimeters, height at least 50 centimeters
- Terracotta and stone material is ideal because it is breathable, robust and stores water – plastic breaks easily and encourages the formation of mould/rot
- Must have a water drainage hole
- To avoid water and dirt stains on the surface, use coasters
Plant lovers often use conventional potting soil when potting, sometimes particularly cheap offers. For a peony, this can already mean the end, because the plant is very demanding in this regard. Therefore, you should only use high-quality potting soil that roughly meets the demands that a Paeonia places on the garden soil. The following attributes are therefore important:
- Rich in humus and nutrients
- pH between 5.0 and 6.0
While a planting period up to September is recommended for planting in the garden bed, repotting should already have taken place in August. In planters, regardless of the material, the roots are much more at the mercy of the cold than in the garden bed. It is therefore important that the peony has overcome the “moving stress” and that the roots have firmly established themselves before the first cold snap.
The peony is a heavy feeder. This means that it has a high need for nutrients and therefore leaches out the potting soil over time. For this reason, peonies should be repotted in fresh soil every three to four years, even despite fertilization. If it loses its willingness to bloom earlier or waters noticeably often, these are signs that the planter has become too small. In this case, repotting into larger pots should be done earlier. It is important here that old soil is removed from the roots and dried-up root parts are cut off before they are repotted.
Moisture spreads well in the garden bed and can supply plants with it much longer than watered potting soil can. A lot of irrigation water evaporates, especially at higher temperatures, so that the moisture-loving peony depends on sufficient watering. It needs constant light moisture. The earth should never dry out. However, it is essential to avoid waterlogging, as it is very sensitive to it. There is a surefire way to tell if watering should be done:
- Fingers crossed on the surface of the earth
- If it can be easily pressed in by two or more centimetres: no water required
- If it can be pressed in less than two centimetres: pour it in again
- Prerequisite: does not draw water from the standing surface, such as from a saucer filled with water
For peonies in the garden bed, a single fertilization with increased potassium and phosphate content at the beginning of the growing season is sufficient. In buckets/pots, the nutrient and mineral removal from the plant soil is too high for a single fertilization to be sufficient. Therefore, the deficit should be compensated with additional fertilizers every one to two weeks between March and August. A complete fertilizer is best. If you want to promote flowering, pay attention to a high potassium content.
In order to be able to keep peonies in tubs/pots over the long term and have them bloom every year, it is essential to cut them correctly at the optimal time. This avoids unnecessary energy consumption, strengthens the plant and stimulates flowering. That is how it goes:
- Always cut off faded flowers (otherwise they will continue to draw energy)
- Cut: below the flower – leave the leaves
- Pruning perennials in autumn: cut off everything above ground to a hand’s breadth
In theory, peonies are hardy. As the cold hits them harder in buckets/pots, it is important that the right preparations and measures are taken. These look like this:
- After the autumn cut, place in a wind-protected location (e.g. house wall)
- Cover substrate/soil surface thickly (e.g. with straw, leaves or brushwood)
- Cover the pot/bucket with foil or fleece at the latest when the temperature drops below minus ten degrees Celsius
- Place the planter on an insulating base (e.g. wooden board, cardboard or styrofoam)
frequently asked Questions
If peonies are newly potted, it can take up to two years for them to flower. If it still doesn’t flower, it’s probably due to suboptimal care. Read through the care tips given here and stick to them in the future, then it should also work with the flower.
None, because peonies are best suited for indoor use as cut flowers. They need fresh air and direct sunlight, which they don’t get behind a window in an enclosed space.