How and when to prune a tree peony


The peony is a plant of Chinese origin that is part of the Ranunculaceae family, although scientists do not quite agree the general consensus is that they have 33 species. This plant is a shrub that has green leaves that are presented in whole or also divided. In addition to this it should be known that peonies have flowers that can be presented simply or double. These are shaped like a rose and are presented in varieties of colors, with pink and white being the most popular. The purple and red tones are also quite visible. In this article we will see everything about pruning tree peony, although we will also take the time to leave some advice about your general care.


Note: Please note that the advice given here is general, this blog is consulted from many countries in the world, with totally different characteristics, what not all tips will be adapted in the same way in all cases. Once you finish reading the article it will be necessary to analyze all the information and apply what you have learned in the best way. If you have any questions, remember that you can contact us to make your inquiries.

Pruning tree peony

1. How to care tree peonies


While the main theme of this post is how to carry out the pruning of tree peony, this is none other than one of the many cares that these plants need. In what follows we will see some of the most important care that needs to be carried out.

  • Sun: these plants need a good amount of daily light. And with this we talk about nothing less than a minimum of six a day. On the other hand it is recommended that the sun does not directly affect them at the peak of the day, as it can spoil its flowers.
  • Pests: like all garden plants, it is susceptible to attacks by various pests. The most common are aphids, spider mites, slugs, snails, weevils and caterpillars. It is essential to carry out a regular control and treatment of pests to take any attack in time and be able to solve it.
  • Temperature: they are resistant resistant to a great variety of climates, being able to live in almost any climate. It is true that they grow better in climates with cold temperatures, since they withstand even temperatures below zero, but they can also develop in hot climates.
  • Plantation: it is essential that we raise our peony in a cool time, being the beginning of spring the best time to do so as long as there is no longer frost. If we live in a warm climate, the ideal is to plant it near shade trees. In this way, when the thermometer begins to rise in the warm months, we will avoid exposing them to direct sunlight.
  • Soil: likes wet soils, with good drainage and calcareous. Although it can grow in various lands, for example clay soils.
  • Irrigation: You will not need very frequent watering, you will have enough twice a week, but if the crop is exposed to the sun it should be increased. The soil should keep moist, but not waterlogged.
  • Fertilizer: to be careful with this point, an excess of fertilizer will prevent the plant from blooming correctly. It is best to place it around it, not very close to its stem. It is recommended to place 50% nitrogen and 100% sodium and potassium in the fall; With the arrival of spring, it will only require 50% nitrogen.
  • Pruning: to close with the basic care of the peonies is pruning, in what follows we will analyze this point in depth.

2. Tools needed to prune a trees peonies


There are several tools that you will need to perform your pruning or trimming of a tree peony. Each of them is appropriate for different cases depending on age, time of year, type of pruning, etc.

  • Hand Pruning Shears: Stems up to half inch in diameter can be pruned with hand shears.
  • Lopping Shears: It is suitable to use on stems between half inch and 2 inches in diameter.
  • Saws: A number of pruning saws are available. These saws come with either curved or straight blades and of variable lengths and points. Curved blades that cut on the draw stroke are easy to use.

Keep in mind that you must disinfect all the tools before trimming your peony. This will help prevent disease transmission, you will have to do it before you start pruning and every time you change plants.

2.1 Needed care of pruning tools

If you want to extend the useful life of your pruning tools there are some basic care.

  • Use the right tool for a job and avoid twisting or straining it.
  • Clean and oil tools regularly by wiping an oily cloth on blades and other surfaces.
  • Keep cutting edges sharp by regularly using an oilstone.
  • Wooden handles should be varnished or regularly treated with linseed oil to keep them from cracking or splintering.

Carry out the previous care on a regular basis and you will be saving good money on tools. 🙂

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3. Do peonies need to be pruned?


This is the classic question that many people ask before taking the scissors and trimming. And the answer to this is very simple, yes, peonies need to be pruned.

While the beauty of its flowers has nothing to envy to those of a rose bush, you should not fall into the confusion of pruning both plants in the same way. The pruning requirements of a peony are quite different from those of a rose bush, something that we will make clear in the following sections.

4. How to prune a tree peony


Carrying out pruning of a peony is a fairly easy task, likewise you should be clear about what you do since if you cannot make a serious mistake. For example, if you carry out a severe pruning you can get to kill the plant, or at least you will have to wait a long time until it develops again. This is because peonies are plants that grow slowly, so they will not respond with large bortions in the face of severe pruning, just as many other plants do.

To explain in a more orderly way we will divide into two types of pruning, the first will be the classic pruning of a peony after its flowering, the other the pruning of a large peony that we want to decrease in size.

4.1 Pruning tree peony after flowering

Many plants in your garden need you to be permanently aware of them to perform pruning. This does not happen with peonies, which trimming tasks are limited almost only to the elimination of dry and / or sick elements.

As always I recommend you take your time to observe the plant in detail before starting to cut. Recognize all those dead or diseased parts, and once you are sure start cutting, but do it in the right place. And you will wonder, where is the right place to cut? As a general rule, it can be said that it is just above a healthy outbreak. If the stem is sick, be sure to cut the healthy wood, and do not fertilize the pruned elements that are sick or infested with insects. Better burn the waste or bury it at a good depth so as not to spread the disease.

Pruning tree peony
Peony flowers

In summary, the elements that you should not eliminate in this pruning after flowering are the following:

4.2 Pruning a large tree peony

We have just said that the pruning of a peony plant is limited almost exclusively to cutting dry or diseased elements. But what happens if we have a peony in our garden that for some reason we want to reduce its size (very old plant, limited space in the garden, etc.), can we prune it? The answer is yes, we can perform pruning to limit the size of the peony, as long as we take some precautions:

  • You must cut the branches just above a growth node.
  • Pruning in general terms should be light, it will take a long time for your plant to recover if you perform severe pruning.
  • If it is enough the size of the plant that you want to reduce, do it with several light pruning, leaving time between pruning and pruning for the plant to recover.

Always keep in mind before pruning like this that peonies are not characterized by rapid development.

5. When to prune a trees peonies


In general terms, the annual pruning of a peony can be carried out once it has finished flowering, so there are variations depending on the climate where you live.

If the area where you live is characterized by a warm climate, with little marked winters, you can carry out the pruning once the flowering is finished, that is to say in the beginning of autumn or until winter. Now if the winters are strong it will be better to wait in early spring, this also gives you the advantage of having the bortes started to swell, allowing you to better recognize the dead wood alive.

6. Pruning yellow tree peony


Since the query about how to prune a yellow tree peony is very common, I needed to clarify that everything seen so far applies to this variety of peony.

That is to say, you will need to carry out in an annul way a cleaning pruning where you will cut all the dead elements, as well as you can also perform light pruning to reduce the size of the plant. Carry out the tasks with the same care that I mentioned in the previous sections and you will not have problems. 😉

7. Video abuot how to Prune a Tree Peony


To close the post we leave a video of the KelwaysPlants channel, where you can graphically understand several things that we saw so far. I hope it helps you.

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Well up to here we have arrived with this article in which we talked about how and when to prune a tree peony. I hope you have no doubt when you should take your scissors and get to work. 

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