As the only genus of the peony family, they not only adorn the garden in the form of perennials or herbaceous subshrubs, but are also very popular in cultivation as shrub peonies. The Asian bush peonies are among the noblest representatives of these decorative spring bloomers and have already attracted the attention of Chinese emperors. To this day, the beautifully blooming peonies have lost none of their popularity and should not be missing in any garden.


The location in the garden needs to be chosen with care, because peonies like to be sheltered from the wind and in light shade, for example under a tall deciduous tree whose leaves filter the blazing sunlight. In contrast to many other garden flowers, peonies do not appreciate it at all when they have to repeatedly change their position. Rather, they mercilessly punish the hobby gardener after a change of location by steadfastly refusing to bloom again at all. Bush peonies are much less capricious with regard to their care:

  • Deep, loose, not too dry garden soil.
  • Avoid locations where there is a risk of waterlogging.
  • If the pH value is below 6, some lime is incorporated.
  • Keep it evenly moist without soaking the root ball.
  • Older peonies are satisfied with the natural amount of rain.
  • Apply complex fertilizers before budding and after flowering.
  • Weed weeds regularly without raking too deep into the ground.
  • Mulching promotes ideal soil quality for peonies.

Compost, which is so versatile in the home garden, is not used in peonies because this form of fertilizer contains too many organic components for the plant. As an alternative to the administration of complex fertilizers, experienced hobby gardeners give their peony approx. 60 grams of complete mineral fertilizer in March and limit themselves to the exclusive administration of one dose of potash fertilizer in September. Whichever variant the gardening enthusiast opts for; It is important that peonies can build up enough reserves of strength to survive the winter.

To cut

Lovingly and carefully cared for bush peonies have a life expectancy similar to that of humans. The habit of a young peony may not yet illustrate this fact; over the years, however, the plant becomes steadily taller and wider. So that it does not lose its beautiful shape during this time, it is advisable to trim it moderately but regularly. Experienced hobby gardeners let their peonies do their thing until early autumn, because after the flowering period, which usually lasts from mid-April to the end of May, decorative fruit clusters develop, followed by a splendid autumn color. Only then are the secateurs used. It is important to note that the cut is always just above an outward-facing eye. If the shoots are directed inwards, they are completely removed. Mind you, this is purely a beauty measure, because by nature peonies do not need a cut. Since all types and varieties of peony are extremely pruning, nothing speaks against pruning a perennial up to a hand’s breadth above the ground before winter so that the magical flowers appear at eye level in the next spring as well.


The majority of the peonies cultivated in the Central European regions are completely hardy. Since the plant is extremely deeply rooted, the frosty temperatures cannot harm it. The cold resistance of the flowers is also noteworthy, as they can withstand even late frosts down to -5 ° Celsius without needing any protection. Garden enthusiasts who want to be completely on the safe side cover their peonies with brushwood or fir fronds in late autumn to counteract any freezing-up. In this case, however, you must not fail to remove this winter protection in good time before the new budding.

Increase by division

Peonies are ideally suited for reproduction by division. The experienced hobby gardener cuts off a piece of at least three to four eyes at the edge of the fleshy root system either in spring before budding or in autumn. It is important to note that as much soil as possible remains on the section of the peony, which supports the growth phase at the new location. Since the peonies are shallow-rooted, most gardening enthusiasts prefer this form of propagation. It is important to note that the mother plant is disturbed as little as possible during this work. It should therefore never be completely dug up for a division, as in this case there is a risk that the flower will not bloom. The separated part is planted in its new location in the garden and watered well.

Propagation by sowing
A relatively uncomplicated technique of propagation, which in return requires a lot of patience, is propagation by sowing. As a cold germ, the seeds of the peony require a long-lasting cold stimulus, such as the local winter offers. Sometimes it even takes two or three winters for germination to begin. If the shiny black seeds are particularly plump and juicy in autumn, the time has come to harvest them. Ideally, they should be sown immediately, because dried peony seeds will not germinate. Therefore, they are extremely rarely available in stores.

  • Fill the seed tray with sandy loam or cactus soil.
  • Plant seeds three times deeper than they are tall.
  • Set up the seed tray in a partially shaded place in the garden.
  • It stays there even in winter.
  • Keep the substrate slightly moist, but not soaked.
  • After one, two or three winters, the seedlings will show up in spring.
  • The cotyledons are underground.
  • Each seedling is transplanted into its own nursery pot.
  • A mix of garden soil, potting soil and some sand is a good substrate.
  • The white part of the seedling goes underground.
  • The dark colored upper part of the plant remains above ground.
  • Place the pricked bush peonies in partial shade to sunny.
  • Moisten regularly and apply liquid fertilizer after 4 to 6 weeks.

Since the seedlings of the peonies form a deep root system within a short time, skilled hobby gardeners use extra deep palm pots for the cultivation. Together with these pots, the young peonies are planted in a bed in their first winter and taken out again the next spring. At this point you have completely rooted your nursery pot. Garden enthusiasts are now free to plant them in their final place in the garden or to repot them in a larger planter. In this case, too, an indispensable prerequisite for a magnificently blooming peony is that the buds must not be covered more than 3 cm to 4 cm with soil. If peonies are planted too deeply, all effort will be in vain because they will not bloom.

Propagation by subscribers Tree peonies are the perfect candidates for propagation using subscribers. For this, the hobby gardener chooses one or more half woody, strong shoots from a healthy mother plant in spring or autumn, which are still largely flexible.

  • A groove 10 cm to 15 cm deep is created next to the mother plant.
  • Before doing this, the earth is loosened up well with the rake at this point.
  • The selected shoot has at least 3 buds and is defoliated.
  • With a sharp knife, the lowering point is slightly scratched in several places.
  • Pull the branch to the ground, cover with soil, weigh down with stones and water.
  • The tip of the shoot must protrude from the ground.
  • Regularly lightly water the sinker and garden soil, but do not soak it.

In the coming months, the sinker forms its own root system and remains on the mother plant for as long. If the young shrub päonia is strong enough, it is cut off with a sharp knife or a spade and planted in the garden at the new home. Incidentally, shrub peonies are always planted at a slight angle so that as many roots as possible can form.

Diseases and pests

First of all, good news on this topic: The dreaded nudibranchs avoid peonies and only attack perennials once in dire need. The bush peonies are completely safe from these voracious pests. In contrast, it should not be concealed that the most dangerous enemy comes from the mushroom kingdom, namely the Suffruticosa peony gray mold (Botrytis paeoniae). If the spring is warm and humid, the delicate flower buds are helplessly at the mercy of it. In addition, the shoots wither and the stems turn brown first before they rot. If the infestation shows up, only a radical cut back into the healthy wood will help, in the hope of saving the plant from complete death. As a preventive measure, the use of nitrogenous fertilizers, Manure and compost are dispensed with. Otherwise, it is advisable not to water over the leaves and to ensure that the location is as airy and sunny as possible when planting. A helpful prophylactic measure has proven to be to remove all foliage from the peonies in autumn and also not to leave any flowers or leaves on the ground. Resourceful hobby gardeners have noticed that garlic, planted between the tree peonies, prevents fungal infections. Basically, for the gray peony mold, as for all other plant diseases, a healthy, lovingly cared for plant is far more resistant to infections than neglected conspecifics. The spores of Botrytis paeoniae are distributed throughout the garden and germinate even on healthy plant material.

Beautiful species and varieties

The selection of magnificent peonies is breathtaking and every enthusiastic gardener is spoiled for choice. The following list would like to contribute to the decision-making:

Chinese peony ‘Bowl of Beauty’

  • Growth height 50 cm to 70 cm
  • Spread 80 cm to 100 cm
  • white double flowers with pink bracts
  • also suitable as a cut flower

Paeonia lactiflora ‚Karl Rosenfield‘

  • Growth height up to 80 cm
  • Spread up to 100 cm
  • purple flower balls
  • requires a full sun

Paeonia lactiflora ‚Sarah Bernhardt‘

  • Growth height up to 100 cm
  • pink, spherical flowers
  • spreads a pleasant scent

Strauchpäonia ‚Ambrose Congrève ‘

  • is one of the robust, fast-growing Rockii hybrids
  • semi-double pink flowers with deep red basal spot
  • early flowering from the end of April

Shrub Peonia ‘Black Swan’

  • absolute rarity among the Rockii hybrids
  • black-red single flower with dark basal spot
  • an eye-catcher in every garden

European shrub peony ‘Duchesse de Morny’

  • comes from the Suffruticosa hybrids
  • semi-double, pale pink to lavender flowers
  • develops large flowers
  • one of the earliest flowering varieties

Strauchpäonia ‚Age of Gold‘

  • one of the rare yellow-flowered varieties
  • half to three quarters double, pale yellow flowers
  • late flowering from the end of May

Basically, the experts advise to prefer varieties with single or semi-double flowers because they are less susceptible to rain. The shrub peonies from China are beautiful to look at with their pompom-like flowers; However, due to the relatively mild winter temperatures, they sprout much too early in the Central European regions, making them particularly susceptible to late frosts.

The ambitious hobby gardener should have at least one peony. Whether as a perennial or as a shrub peony, these noble plants enrich the ornamental garden with their wonderfully beautiful flowers for many years. They do not make high demands on their care as long as they can develop in peace in their location. On the other hand, peonies can react very annoyed to any disturbance, especially if they are replanted. Peonies, on the other hand, accept a regular cut without complaint, because it serves as an effective beauty care product.

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