When they are in bloom, peonies are a real delight in the garden. However, for these to return year after year, peonies need to be properly fertilized.
The genus of peonies ( Paeonia ) currently comprises 32 different species – so it’s no wonder that this plant species has earned a place in so many gardens and delights gardeners with a veritable splendor of flowers. However, to keep the vigorous, light pink flowering ‘Louise Mouchelet’ or the vigorous ‘Gilbert Barthelot’ in his garden paradise, one thing is particularly important: the right fertilization.
Peonies are one of the more easy-care plants, after all, their roots also extend to remote nutrient stores in the surrounding soil. But the natural nutrient reserves they find are rarely perfect. For this reason, you should regularly feed your peony fertilizer. Unfortunately, not every fertilizer is equally suitable for flowering plants. The dose and timing should not be random either. That is why we explain how and when to best supply a peony with nutrients.
Why should you fertilize peonies?
Nutrients are essential for plants to build up biomass, i.e. to be able to grow up happily. This is no different with a peony. If you pay attention to the correct composition and concentration of the energy sources, you can support lush flowering and vital growth. Peonies are particularly dependent on a good supply of nutrients in the growth phase because in the cold season many species of the pretty flower overwinter underground as a rhizome. This is where all the nutrients are stored that are needed for new shoots in spring. If the plant was not sufficiently fertilized in the previous year, this deficiency is reflected in the nutrient storage of the rhizomes. In spring these plants then have a less optimal start to the growth phase.
Fertilizing peonies: when and how often?
When the peony sprouts after hibernation, fertilization also begins, after all, the budding into the new year needs proper support. The last fertilization then takes place in July or August, before your peony flowers for the last time, to say goodbye to summer. Later you should not fertilize anymore, as a late shoot can no longer harden before winter.
If you use a slow-release fertilizer, you only need to fertilize at the beginning and end of the fertilizing period. With mineral fertilizers, you should feed your peonies with nutrients in small doses every four weeks. In most cases, these only have a very short-term effect and can easily be rinsed out of the floor. This not only shortens the watering interval but also pollutes the groundwater. For this reason and because of the high risk of over-fertilization, it is advisable to use an organic fertilizer when fertilizing peonies. This also offers a long-term effect naturally and therefore only needs to be used twice a year.
Summary: when and how often to fertilize peonies
- The first fertilization takes place with the shoot after the winter rest
- The last time is fertilized in July or August before the last bloom
- A slow-release fertilizer only needs to be fertilized at the beginning and end of the fertilization period
- Mineral fertilizers are applied in small doses every four weeks
- In contrast to mineral fertilizers, organic fertilizers do not pose a risk of over-fertilization and, because of their natural long-term effects, only have to be used twice a year
Fertilize peonies: instructions and fertilizer recommendation
Fortunately, because of their deep roots, peonies do not need too many additional nutrients, because they make use of a large space of soil and the nutrients stored in it. This is why the dose of nutrients depends heavily on the substrate in which your plant grows. Sandy soil can store fewer nutrients than loamy soils. Therefore, in this case, it is important to improve the soil by properly fertilizing the plants with compost and mixing in a loamy soil. Also, knowing the exact variety of peonies is very beneficial. Most varieties are quite frugal, but there are also breeding masterpieces such as the fast-growing variety ‘Gilbert Barthelot’ that consume a little more nutrients. In general, fast-growing varieties naturally consume more nutrients than slow-growing ones.
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In the case of the peony with all its mentioned properties, a primarily organic long-term fertilizer is therefore advisable. Nitrogen (N) should be the least available, as you don’t need an unnatural growth spurt. Phosphorus (P) promotes, among other things, the formation of flowers, which is what gives the peony its special status in your own garden – this is why the largest proportion is required here. Potassium (K) regulates the water balance but is also responsible for root growth and frost resistance of the plant. Therefore, in terms of proportion, it should be in second place.
Organically fertilize peonies
In the case of most peonies, a mineral fertilizer should not be used, because with such a fertilizer there is an oversupply of nutrients, with which the plant is quickly overwhelmed. The reason for this is the slow growth behavior of many peonies. The slow availability of an organic flower fertilizer with a long-term effect fits this perfectly. This should ideally also be available in organic quality so that the soil organisms can do their work well and happily. Our mainly organic Gardender organic flower fertilizer offers exactly these qualities – and almost exclusively based on plant-based raw materials. The NPK ratio of 4 – 2 – 7 promotes healthy, bushy growth, vigorous flowering and brings your plant through the winter strengthened with potassium.
Organic long-term fertilization: application recommendation for peonies
You can’t really go wrong with organic fertilizers when it comes to the dosage, because even if too much ends up in the pot or bed, the following applies: You don’t need to fear overfertilization. But if you want to look after your garden as environmentally conscious as possible, you should avoid unnecessary fertilizers. So that fertilizing your peonies does not end up unnecessarily wasted, we have a short application recommendation for our Gardender organic flower fertilizer ready for you. This organic fertilizer, composed almost exclusively of organic components, ensures happy peonies all year round when applied as follows:
- Before planting, work 100 – 150 g / m² (well-filled 0.2-liter jar) of our Gardender organic flower fertilizer into the upper soil layer
- Pour the soil and freshly inserted peony well so that the granules can dissolve well
- With maintenance fertilization in spring, you should fertilize another 80 – 120 g / m² (0.2-liter jar) per plant
Fertilize peonies with minerals
If you dare to use mineral fertilizers with neat perennials, you should never exceed the recommended dosage. The high-dose nutrient suppliers otherwise quickly become too much for the frugal peonies. Also, make sure that you only give blue grain and Co. sufficient water. Otherwise, the nutrients cannot be absorbed and, in the worst case, burns in the root area occur. Since a mineral fertilizer quickly does more harm than good with the peony, you should rather use an organic long-term fertilizer. This is gentler on the plants and also considerably more environmentally friendly.
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Fertilize peonies with home remedies
Peonies in the bed are suitable for traditional fertilization with ripe compost, with manure from goats, sheep, or horses, or with bone meal. Work the natural fertilizer into the upper layer of soil in the root area twice a year. Covered with a fresh layer of soil, the release of nutrients can then start. But peonies can also be supplied with home remedies in pots. You can simply fertilize your plants with dried coffee grounds every four weeks. This is scattered in the root area or given with the irrigation water.
Fertilize the peonies in the pot
If the peony grows in a sufficiently large bucket or pot, there are a few special features to consider. First of all, shrub peonies are much more suitable for the pot than the perennial varieties. The reason for this is that the latter is pronounced deep roots and is more affected in the pot. Furthermore, the substrate of the pot should be rich in nutrients and there should be drainage at the bottom of the pot to avoid waterlogging (for example from pottery shards or gravel). Fertilizer additions to potted peonies are generally to be applied more frequently than to outdoor varieties, as it often happens that the plants do not bloom and the fertilizers provide them with constant growth or blooming stimuli.
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