How To Make Your Peonies Bloom (Gardener’s Guide)

Peonies are a stunning addition to any garden; however, they have been known to give gardeners grief when it comes to blooming. These plants are pretty picky when it comes to the  conditions in which they flower. Luckily, there are a few ways you can accommodate your peonies’ needs. 

To make your peonies bloom, provide adequate sunlight (6-8 hours), plant at the correct depth, water regularly, ensure they get enough cool weather, watch for pests, and give them time to grow. Peonies will bloom well so long as their ideal soil and weather conditions are met. 

In the rest of this article, I’ll go over how difficult it is to make peonies bloom, why yours are struggling to produce flowers, and a few important peony growth questions. Therefore, if you want to learn more about how to make these stunning plants bloom, be sure to keep reading. 

Is It Hard To Make Your Peonies Bloom?

Peonies have a bad rap for being difficult bloomers despite them being a fairly hardy garden plant. It’s true that it can be hard to make these buds bloom, especially if you are new to peony growing. But how difficult are they really to make bloom? 

It is not hard to make your peonies bloom so long as you meet their soil and weather requirements. Peonies require 6-8 hours of sunlight per day to bloom, and their soil needs plenty of nutrients. However, over-fertilizing these plants will lead to poor blooming, so finding a balance is crucial. 

Like with all plants, peonies have set specifications for blooming that must be met. But, as all plants, peonies are ultimately just looking for adequate:

  • Sunlight
  • Water
  • Warmth
  • Nutrients

If you can meet these 4 basic needs, you should be well on your way to having a blooming peony. However, it’s important to note that you should be careful of excess, as too much sun, water, or heat will quickly kill your plants. 

Can You Force Peonies To Bloom?

Next, you might be wondering if it’s possible to force peonies to bloom. These plants can indeed be stubborn when it comes to blooming, and no one wants to miss out on their stunning flowers. So can you actually force peonies buds to bloom? 

You can only force peonies to bloom if the blooms have been cut. Planted peonies will only bloom when they are ready. However, if you have cut peonies, you can force the blooms to open by placing them in warm water and ensuring they get plenty of sunlight.

Basically, keeping cut peonies warm will help them bloom faster; this is a common practice amongst florists as they often receive shipments of peonies that haven’t bloomed yet. This allows the flowers to stay fresh for longer, and they are able to speed up the blooming process as needed.

However, if you’re looking to help planted peonies bloom faster, your best option is to continue to provide adequate care. Healthy plants will be more likely to produce buds and flowers. It’s also important to note that too much heat will stop peony buds from opening up in the first place. 

How Long Does It Take a Peony Bud To Bloom?

It can take time for a peony plant to mature and produce its first blooms. However, once you see your plant-producing buds, blooms aren’t too far behind. So how long does it take for a peony bud to become a bloom? 

It takes 4-6 days for a peony bud to bloom. How quickly this process occurs depends on factors such as sunlight, water, warmth, and the plant’s overall health. It’s important to note that it takes about 3 years for a peony plant to even begin producing buds. 

So as you can see, you should spot a peony flower in as little as four days once a bud has fully formed on your plant. However, if your buds form and simply never open, this is a sign of improper care, and you will need to go by the process of elimination to determine what is bothering your peony plant. 

Reasons Your Peonies Aren’t Blooming

Next, I want to discuss the main reasons peonies might struggle to bloom. These plants are great garden plants but often have trouble producing flowers. This is because, in order to bloom, peonies require all of their needs to be met. So let’s go over what those needs are and why your peonies might be struggling. 

Improper Planting Depth 

Your peonies may be struggling to produce blooms because they have been planted too deep into the soil. These plants should be planted 1-2 inches (2.5-5.1 cm) into the soil if you want them to thrive. 

If you suspect your peonies have been planted too deep in the earth, you will need to replant them. Unfortunately, peonies don’t enjoy being transplanted, and so it can affect how well they bloom. That being said, it’s important to transplant them in order to produce healthy future blooms.

If you want to learn how to transplant your peonies properly, Chalet has a fantastic video on how to transplant your peonies correctly and safely. They also do a great job of explaining the process as they go and providing an excellent visual for each step. 

Inadequate Access to Sunlight

Another common reason why your peonies might be struggling is lack of sunlight. Peonies are perennials, and they love to grow in full sun. Therefore, these plants tend to thrive on 6-8 hours of sunlight a day. However, this number can vary based on the average temperature in your area. 

Peonies like warmth, but too much of it can cause them to refuse to bloom. So if you live in a hot climate, 4-6 hours of sunlight is ideal. However, if you notice signs of distress in your plant, you can always restrict hot sunlight by providing some partial shade on overly warm days. 


Peonies love nutrient-rich soil, but they can become over-fertilized, resulting in your plants not producing flowers. Peonies should only be fertilized about twice per year, and it’s important to note that most well-cared-for plants don’t even need it. 

If you have planted your peonies in good soil and utilized compost, there is a good chance your peonies will seldom need to be fertilized. That being said, fertilizing in moderation can significantly add to the health of your plants. 

You might be wondering what makes over-fertilizing your peonies so bad. Well, over-fertilization can lead to:

  • Lack of blooms
  • Disease
  • Pests
  • Stunted growth
  • Burned leaves
  • Wilting
  • Death

So as you can see, over-fertilizing your peonies can lead to grave consequences. Plants need nutrients, but too much of a good thing isn’t always great. If you want to fertilize your peonies, it’s best to do so in early spring. 

Unwanted Pests or Diseases 

Peonies also tend to struggle to bloom when faced with too many garden pests or diseases. Pests are considered any sort of bug or critter that bothers your plants. For example, rabbits and deer love to nibble your peony plants which can lead to stress and lack of blooms. You may also experience problems from pests like Nematodes and Thrips.

As for diseases, peonies are prone to illnesses like:

  • Blight
  • Crown gall
  • Leaf blotch
  • Powdery mildew
  • Root rot
  • Verticillium wilt
  • White mold

Both pests and diseases can lead to significant issues if left unchecked and can quickly decimate your peony plants. Therefore, if you notice any signs of these unwanted pests or illnesses, it’s essential that you act quickly. 

Extreme Weather Changes 

Many plants are sensitive to extreme weather changes, and peonies are no exception. These plants prefer the temperatures of gardening zones 3-8. They also require temperatures below 40°F (4°C) in the winter months. This cool weather will better allow your peonies to bloom and is necessary for their overall health. 

However, even though peonies enjoy cold spells, they are still highly susceptible to being damaged by extreme cold fronts. Anything below 20°F (-7°C) will be too cold for your plants, and they will need to be covered in order to prevent your buds and plants from dying. 

That being said, they also need adequate sunlight (6-8 hours a day), and it’s no secret that the sun produces heat. So it’s important to monitor temperatures as peonies can also struggle to thrive if the weather becomes too hot.

Lack of Proper Nutrition  

I know we talked about how easy it is to over-fertilize your peony plants, but it’s crucial to ensure you’re providing enough nutrition for your peonies to bloom as well. Like I previously stated, you can fertilize your peonies about twice a year, but the best way to ensure your plants are healthy and have enough food is to plant them in fertile soil. 

Peonies need plenty of:

  • Phosphorus
  • Nitrogen
  • Calcium

A great way to ensure your peony plants are getting the nutrients they need is to make your own compost or purchase some. Using healthy dirt right from the start is essential in keeping your peonies happy and blooming. 

If you don’t already have a soil you love, I personally recommend Charlie’s Compost (available on This compost is great because it contains chicken manure, cornsilk, and other beneficial ingredients, and many people report increased flowering in their plants. 

Whatever you decide to use, be sure to do your research, as you never want to apply a fertilizer or soil type that could be harmful to your peonies. 

Plants Haven’t Matured Yet

Another reason you might not be seeing blooms on your peonies is that they might not be old enough to bloom. It can take about 3 years for these plants to mature and start producing flowers. Therefore, if you haven’t seen any buds forming on your plants and you have recently planted them, that is why. 

It can feel like an eternity waiting for your newly planted peonies to bloom, but the stunning flowers are certainly worth the wait. 

How To Make Your Peonies Bloom

Now that you better understand the reasons why your peonies might be struggling to bloom, it’s time to talk about some possible solutions. These perennials are unique, and their flowers are coveted for their beauty. 

Here’s how to make your peonies bloom:

  • Plant at the proper depth. When you plant your peonies, make sure they are planted no deeper than 1-2 inches (2.5-5.1 cm) in the ground. It’s better to err on the side of safety and plant too shallow rather than too deep. 
  • Plant in a location with enough sunlight. Peonies require 6-8 hours of sunlight to really thrive. So you should aim to plant them in full sun. However, if you are growing them in a warmer gardening zone, it may be best to plant them somewhere that receives 4-6 hours of sunlight as too much heat can scorch them. A greenhouse is a great option.
  • Never prune too close to the winter months. Pruning too late into the year can leave your plants exposed to the elements and quickly result in stressing your plant or death. Plus, peonies are far less likely to bloom when fighting for their lives. 
  • Deadhead your peonies. If you notice dead flowers, cutting away the deceased flower heads is a good idea. This helps your plant to grow and produce more flowers since it will no longer be wasting nutrients on dead flowers. 
  • Treat any signs of disease. If you notice any strange spots or discoloration in your peony plant, you should treat it for disease immediately. You can identify the disease by googling the symptoms or downloading a plant app that uses photos to identify your issue. 
  • Protect your peonies from unwanted pests. If your poor peonies are frequently being munched on by animals or bugs, you should do your best to protect them. Adding some netting and treating for bugs is an excellent way to stop those pests in their tracks. 
  • Avoid replanting if possible. Replanting peonies leads to stress which in turn will halt blooming. Peonies really don’t like to be moved, so unless it’s absolutely necessary, you should avoid doing so. 
  • Make sure they are getting enough cold weather. Peonies need over 400 hours of colder weather in order to thrive and produce blooms. It can be tricky to provide adequate cold temperatures if you live in a warm climate. However, you can do your best by ensuring they aren’t in full sun and removing any barriers trapping in heat. 
  • Adequately fertilize. A little fertilizer is always a great way to improve your peonies’ health. However, you must be careful not to over-fertilize these plants as it can easily be done. The best way to ensure they have proper nutrients is to use good quality soil when planting and only fertilize about twice a year. 
  • Soil with good drainage. Peonies prefer soil that can drain well, as soil that holds on to too much moisture can result in root rot. 

The healthier and happier these plants are, the more likely they will be to produce beautiful blooms. If you notice your peony struggling to bloom, you should work your way down this list and correct any issues you see with your planted peonies. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Will Peonies Bloom Indoors?

Peonies will bloom indoors. However, it’s essential to place them in locations where they get good air circulation, plenty of sunlight, and a good amount of warmth. However, you will want to be careful not to scorch your plants during the summer, as peonies are sensitive to too much heat. 

How Long Does It Take Peonies To Bloom Once Planted?

It takes about 3 years for peonies to bloom once planted. These plants take time to establish themselves and will need adequate care as they mature. To make sure your peonies bloom on schedule, it’s crucial to provide adequate sunlight, water, and to plant them at the correct depth. 

Do Peonies Grow Well in Pots?

Peonies do not grow well in pots. These plants grow a complicated root system, and the small confines of a pot do not allow for proper growth. However, it can certainly be done, but you most likely will find your peonies struggling to thrive. Peonies grow best in gardens with plenty of space. 

Final Thoughts 

Peonies don’t have to be too difficult or challenging to make bloom. In fact, once you get the process down, it will feel like a walk in the park. The best way to ensure healthy blooms is to make sure your plants:

  • Have enough water.
  • Are planted at the correct depth.
  • Are getting 6-8 hours of sunlight.
  • Are receiving enough cool weather. 
  • Are pest-free. 

If you do your best to apply the above advice, your peony plants should bloom with ease. Just be sure to monitor their progress and give them time to grow if they are newly planted. 

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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