Peonies are beautiful colorful garden ornamental plants that are popular with gardeners who live in cooler climates. If you’re new to growing peonies, you might be wondering how long it takes for them to grow and bloom.
It usually takes 2 to 4 years before peonies bloom for the first time. Herbaceous peonies will usually bloom around 2 – 3 years after planting. Tree peonies can take up to 4 years to bloom after they have been planted in your garden.
It is possible to also grow both herbaceous and tree peonies from seed, but these will generally take around 3 – 5 years to produce an abundance of blooms. Better still, herbaceous peonies are best propagated by dividing established clumps into individual rhizomes. Once replanted, these will generally take around three years to start producing blooms.
How Long Does It Take To Grow Peonies From Rhizomes Or Tubers?
One of the best ways to grow herbaceous peonies is from rhizomes or tubers. These should be planted in the summer or fall and left to overwinter in the soil. Once spring arrives, you should see some green shoots appearing. In their first year, peonies will produce around 2 to 5 leaf shoots.
During this time, they may or may not produce one or two flowers. In the following spring, you’ll see more green shoots, and the number of flowers will increase too. By around the fourth or fifth year, your peony will be completely bushy, and you should see lots of lovely flowers.
Over this period, your peonies will produce quite a large root system. This is why peonies don’t really like to be moved and will refuse to flower in the first year if they have been.
Most herbaceous peonies will grow around one to three feet tall and will spread just as wide. On the other hand, tree peonies can reach a height of 7 feet (2.1 meters) and will spread out to about four to five feet (1.2 to 1.5 meters).
Although peonies are fairly slow growers, once established, they’ll reward you with glorious blooms year after year. And, they’ll live for a very long time too.
How Long Does It Take To Grow Peonies From A Grafted Hybrid?
Grafting is the most common way that tree peonies are propagated. However, this is a labor and time-intensive procedure. Grafting happens when a cutting from the desired variety (scion) is joined onto the rootstock of either another tree or herbaceous peony. The roots of the rootstock plant will feed the grafted section until it has time to produce its own roots. This can take between one and two years.
After a new tree peony has been grafted, it must be left in the ground over the winter period and covered with mulch. In the spring, you should see some new shoots. These are expected to grow to a height of 8 to 16 inches (20cm to 40cm) in the first year.
If you want to grow your own tree peonies, you’ll find that they’re mostly sold in pots at garden centers. Once planted in your garden, they can take up to 10 years to reach their full height. You should wait until the fall before planting these in the ground as the roots don’t like to be disturbed while they’re still actively growing.
You may find that a newly planted tree peony will not produce any new top growth in its first year after planting. This is because the plant is busy producing its massive root system underground. However, the following spring, you should start to see some new top growth, but you might have to wait another year or two to see any significant flowers.
How Long Does It Take To Grow Peonies From Seeds?
It is possible to grow both herbaceous and tree peonies from seed. Be aware, though, that most peonies are hybrids so that if you collect your own seeds, the resultant plants may not be identical to the original. If you want to try this growing method, though, you’re going to need to be patient.
In general, peonies are slow growers, and peonies grown from seed usually take around five years to start producing an abundance of blooms. Sometimes, it can even take up to seven years for a peony grown from seed to start producing abundant flowers.
Peony seeds that are fully developed have a hard coating. These need the right conditions to break the coating for the seeds to germinate. These seeds may require two full seasons in the soil before a tiny seedling will emerge. The reason for this is that the outer coating provides a double-dormancy for the seed. This dormancy includes the seed coat and the dormant embryo within.
On the other hand, peony seeds that are not fully mature and don’t have a hard outer coating may germinate in their first year of planting. So, if you plant your seeds in the fall, the cold winter will break the dormancy of the embryo, and the seed should germinate and produce some green shoots in the spring.
These young shoots will be about 2 inches (5cm) tall. You should leave these to grow undisturbed until the fall, when they can be transplanted to another spot if you want. It takes peony seedlings around one full year to grow just 6 inches (15 cm) tall.
Peony seeds can be planted either outdoors in the fall or can be started indoors in pots. Remember, though, that seeds planted in pots indoors will require around three months of refrigeration before the seeds will germinate.
Peony Growth Cycle For Herbaceous Peonies
Herbaceous peonies follow the same growth cycle year after year. This consists of:
- Green plant growth
- Flower growth
Peonies go into dormancy during the winter. This cycle usually begins in the fall. That’s why this is the best time to plant herbaceous peonies, especially if you’re growing them from rhizomes or tubers. For established peonies, the foliage will usually die down during this period. Peonies need around three months of cold temperatures so that the tubers can fill with enough nutrients to produce flowers.
Once the weather starts to warm up in the spring, the plant will start to shoot again, and you’ll see lots of green growth. During this time, the plant needs lots of sun, and the tubers should not be too far beneath the surface. If they’re planted too deeply, and the tubers don’t receive enough warmth from the sun, the plant is unlikely to flower.
In late spring to early summer, an established herbaceous peony will start to flower. Remember, a newly planted peony will most likely not flower in the first year. But every year after that, you should see more and more blooms develop.
Then, in the fall, the yearly cycle starts all over again. It’s heartening to know, though, that established peonies will create their magnificent display of blooms for years to come. Some peonies have even been known to grow for 100 years or more.