How Do You Keep Peonies from Flopping in the Spring?

“What is the best way to care for peonies in the spring?  How do you keep the foliage from falling over when it rains?” Question from Diane of Newark, Ohio

Answer: Double-flowered peony (Paeonia lactiflora) blooms are so heavy that even the smallest rain can weigh them down to the ground. Thankfully, this problem is easily fixed. General spring care is simple, too.

Start by completely cutting back the old, brown stalks from last year. Then weed around the crown of the plant, work in an all-purpose slow-release fertilizer, lightly mulch or add a 2-inch layer of Black Gold Garden Compost Blend, and then place a perennial cage around the crown. Caging peonies bolsters large, heavy flower heads when rains fall.

Seek out a cage that’s wide enough to accommodate the clump. Perennial cages are sometimes sold at garden centers or online (click here for one source). You can also make your own. I like to make my own cages for perennials, dahlias, and tomatoes using rolled, galvanized steel fencing (look for a product with open squares), wire cutters, and plastic zip ties (protective gloves are also needed). Just cut the fencing to size, and zip tie it into a circle. When cutting the fence, I also cut the base of the cage so that it has prongs to secure into the ground (click here to watch a video where I make a similar (but larger) cage for sweet potatoes).

I hope that this helps!

Happy peony growing,

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist


Plants are the lens Jessie views the world through because they’re all-sustaining. (“They feed, clothe, house and heal us. They produce the air we breathe and even make us smell pretty.”) She’s a garden writer and photographer with degrees in both horticulture and plant biology from Purdue and Michigan State Universities. Her degrees were bolstered by internships at Longwood Gardens and the American Horticultural Society. She has since worked for many horticultural institutions and companies and now manages communications for Sun Gro Horticulture, the parent company of Black Gold. Her joy is sharing all things green and lovely with her two daughters.

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