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Tree Peony Growth Cycle

Tree peony has a growth cycle very different from other plants. As the Chinese saying goes, ^Grow the aboveground parts in the spring, doze off in the summer, grow roots in the fall, and go to sleep in the winter. ̄

The root also serves as the nutrition and energy storage of a tree peony plant. Tree peonies are planted in the mid-fall, so the plant has time to grow some roots before the ground freezes.

Tree peonies are even appealing as small bushes. Tree peonies treated as a large tree will take two to five years before they become established. A 5- to 10-year-old tree peony plant is considered a seedling, and a 20- to 30-year-old plant is considered a young plant. With proper care, a tree peony will keep blooming for 50 to 80 years. When not disturbed, like those in Chinese palace or Buddhist temple, it is common to see tree peony plants over a hundred years old still producing hundreds of blossoms every year.

Tree peonies require at least five years from seed to flowering, and it may take another five to eight years of growth to stabilize the flower color and type.

Site Selection

, Choose a well-drained location, full or partial sun.

, The soil must be deep and loose, with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5.

, Keep in mind that most tree peonies will grow 4-7 feet tall and 4-5 feet wide.


Fall is the best season to plant, because it helps development of new roots and recovery for normal growth in the next spring. If tree peony is divided or planted in spring, the root system cannot recover before the growth and development of the parts above ground. Thus the nutrient supply cannot match the need and the plant may lose its vitality, and effect their normal growth, flowering will not return until after several years cultivation.

Feed the Plant

It is not necessary to fertilize at planting in the fall. Starting the second year, it is recommended that fertilizer be applied three times a year. Use a complete or organic fertilizer. Follow the instructions provided with the fertilizer to determine the amount required.

, First application: This should be done in the early spring as soon as the soil is workable. At this time, the leaf may not be fully developed and spread, but the roots are actively growing.

, Second application: Apply soon after blooming. This will help the plant recover and will provide the necessary nutrients for new growth.

, Third application: The final fertilization stage should take place between late fall and early winter. The amount of fertilizer used should be about half as much as required in the previous two stages.


Keep soil moist but not flooded. Generally, newly planted should be thoroughly watered, while watering of established plants should be related to your local conditions.


Proper pruning keeps tree peonies healthy and in better form. It not only provides good ventilation and light penetration, but also produces larger and better flowers. All damaged and weak branches need to be removed; 5-8 stems per plant are enough for most tree peonies.

In the spring, remove unwanted shoots from the ground, and limit the number of lateral buds per twig so as not to crowd the blossoms. Do not prune or trim during the first year following planting.

While pruning the shoots, branches, and leaves, it is also important to thin out the flower buds. To promote larger, healthier flowers, ensure that only one or two flower buds remain per twig. This will produce fewer, but larger and better flowers.

If the plant growth appears to be weak the first year after planting, remove all flower buds when they get to marble size. This practice will promote vigorous vegetative growth and produce a stronger plant.

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