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How to Deadhead Peonies— A Complete Guide

Do you wish to have a better blooming future for your Peonies? If so, then deadheading the spent flowers from your plant shall do the trick!

Certainly, by deadheading the flowers, you can encourage the plant to produce more blooms while also proffering it a tidy cut.

To deadhead Peonies, wait for the blooms to fade to white and petals to turn brown, which normally occurs 7 to 10 days after flowering from spring until summer. Use sterilized pruners to remove the blooms about half an inch above the first set of leaves in the flowering stem.

Image represents spent blooms of Peony
Flowers of Peonies fade by losing their color.

Peonies are known to bloom longer when you deadhead them. I was unaware of this and wondered how my grandma had endless supplies of Peony flowers ready every time for any kind of occasion.

The perennial nature of the plant also makes it a steady bloomer, but by deadheading them, you can extend their blooming duty twice as more.

Hence, if you are a beginner to the concept of deadheading Peonies, then grab the pruners, and let’s learn!

Do Peonies Need Deadheading?

Peonies bloom for over 100 years and come back every year to astonish you with their colorful flowers.

If you plant a Peony during the fall, you can expect it to flower from spring until summer. However, the flowers stay for a short period of time in the plant, only for ten days at max!

Each variety of Peonies blooms at different times within the six weeks of its proficient blooming period.

Image represents tree and herbaceous Peonies
Peonies are available in the tree (left) and herbaceous (right) varieties.

Furthermore, it is best to provide them with fertilizer containing less nitrogen once in spring to promote blooming and once before winter to build strong roots.

Fertilizer shall allow the plant to produce blooms faster, and they will hastily reach fading period.

So, you can deadhead the flowers at the moment when the flowers completely fade and lose their colors.

Mainly, deadheading Peonies is necessary to store energy for the next season. 

Additionally, the process has certain advantages for the plant.

  • Deadheading helps to transfer energy for the production of flowers and foliage next season. 
  • It allows the plant to divert the energy for the development of roots
  • The flowering season will last longer.
  • The process helps keep the plant in a compact shape. 
  • It reduces the unwanted foliage fall and prevents damage to the leaves.

Deadheading applies to all the Peony varieties, whether they are trees or herbs. But, if you let the faded flowers stay until fall, they will be converted to seed pods.

This is an energy-consuming process for the plant, so removing the flowers is the best option.

When To Deadhead Peonies?

As my grandma was an avid grower of Peonies, she always taught me that one has to wait for different seasons to deadhead the flowers from herbaceous and tree Peonies.

Deadhead herbaceous Peonies from late spring until summer, when the blooms reach the end of their flowering cycle.

Each bloom in Peonies has 7 to 10 days to complete its life cycle; after that, you can deadhead them.

Image represents the petals of Peony flower turning brown
Peony flowers fade and dry off after a week of flowering.

Additionally, your Peonies shall show tell-tale signs that it needs the cut, such as;

  • Fading of flower colors from pink to white
  • Petals turning brown and crispy
  • Plant looking wilting and droopy

However, deadheading the flowers from the tree Peonies is a bit difficult due to the thick flowering stems.

Tree Peonies produce flower before herbaceous Peonies, from early spring until summer, but flowers stay for 7 to 10 days before drying off.

Hence, you have to be fast on your feet to deadhead them.

Since herbaceous and tree Peonies are perennials, they bloom more than once; meaning, you don’t have to worry if you deadhead the flowers more often.

Moreover, Peonies are so hardy that they can even withstand occasional pruning. Do this twice, once during early spring and again in late fall.

This way, the plant shall remain energetic to produce more vigorous blooms the following year.

Additionally, your plant will also look spick and span, preventing pest attacks when it is in its most vulnerable state during winter.

How Do You Deadhead A Peony?

Deadheading is not only good for the plant but also etches a sense of calmness to any gardener’s mind.

To properly deadhead a Peony, you have to grab a few essential tools. Take help from the table below.

Gardening GlovesTo protect your hands while pruning
PrunersTo snip the spent blooms
DisinfectantTo disinfect the pruning tools
Plastic BucketTo hold the spent flowers

Also, deadheading Peonies will not make it rebloom immediately within that year.

In fact, you have to wait for the next season to see flowers in your Peony again.

You can easily deadhead both herbaceous and tree Peonies similarly. Follow the steps below.

Steps To Deadhead Peonies

  • Select the bloom that looks faded or dead, indicated by brown petals.
  • Hold at the base of the bloom by forming a cup with your hand.
  • Cut the flowering stem about an inch above the first set of healthy leaves using sterilized pruners.
  • If a potential bud is in the flowering stem, cut the spent bloom directly at the base.
  • For deadheading flowers from tree Peonies, make an angled cut where the pedicel of spent bloom meets the flowering stem.
  • Repeat this process to all the blooms in the plant that are dead or faded.
  • Collect the flowers in a plastic bucket and dry the petals to use them alternatively for various decorative purposes.

You can also go through the process of deadheading, like in the video below.

Things to Take Care of During Deadheading

  • Take the approach of deadheading your Peonies by choosing the right time. The blooming season of Peonies lasts up to six weeks, so you have to deadhead the spent blooms within that period.
  • Deadhead Peonies when they begin to fade. Do this when the flower petals have turned brown and crisp.
  • Avoid cutting the flowering stem with a potential bud ready to flower.
  • Use sharp, sterilized pruning tools to make clean cuts.

What To Do With Deadheaded Peony Flowers?

Usually, the deadhead flowers of Peonies look useless, but you can take benefits from them.

Besides, you can use the fresh as well as dried flowers of Peonies for garnishing, parading, or preparing confections.

  • If you harvest the flowers within 7 to 10 days of their blooming period, they can serve as excellent cut flowers. Flowers look fantastic in a vase above a dining table.
  • Petals of fresh flowers can act as ingredients to prepare tea.
  • People also prepare fragrant syrup using flower petals to garnish the food.
  • Faded flowers are also the perfect choice to prepare wreaths to hang outside the main doorway of your house.
Image represents door wreath made from flowers of Peony
Use Peony flowers to prepare welcoming front-door wreaths.
  • The fragrance of Peony flowers persists even after they fade, which you can leverage for preparing scented candles and bath bombs.

Wedding date on the way but lacking confetti? No problem! Use the dried petals of the Peony flowers to enchant the wedding with its added fragrance.

Care For Peonies After Deadheading

Although Peonies resist the deadheading easily, you have to ensure that the plant feels less stressed. 

  • Don’t leave the flowers on the ground, as they may serve as an unwanted host for the growth of Botrytis fungus.
  • Fertilize the plant with bone meal that will help it to develop stronger roots after deadheading.
  • Some people habitually get rid of the foliage after deadheading the flowers. Avoid doing this and leave the healthy foliage until fall, as the plant needs the leaves’ energy to produce fresh blooms next season.
Image represents the Botrytis blight infecting leaves of Peony plant
Botrytis blight infects the leaves of Peony.
  • After deadheading, cut off the parts that look dead or diseased. This will not only keep the plant tidy but shall also prevent overwintering diseases.
  • Don’t remove the ants from the blooms. They serve as the pollinators that transfer the pollens and aid in fertilization for the plant.
  • Plant Peonies outdoors in an area that receives at least 6 to 8 hours of direct afternoon sunlight.

As a zone 4 perennial that requires full sun to bloom, Peonies do well outdoors than indoors. So, you need not deadhead Peonies if grown indoors. 

  • They need three weeks of nighttime cold at 32°F or lower to bloom.
  • Water once a week, but you can increase the watering frequency during summer.
  • Provide Peonies with well-draining soil with a pH of 6.5 to 7.0 to avoid the conditions of waterlogging.
  • Since Peonies are zone 4 perennials, they require a cool, humid environment (around 50 to 60%) to thrive.
  • Although the plant needs less pruning care, lightly pruning during spring will keep it in shape.
  • Repot Peonies during the early winter.


Your gardener’s heart may not allow the deadheading of the flowers of precious Peonies, but doing so will not hurt the plant.

In fact, the plant will feel more relaxed and full of energy to display more flowers next season.

But, take special care by using the right tools and wait for the flowers to fade at first.

Relax! The deadheaded flowers will certainly serve you well later, and you can procure all the benefits.

If you own other houseplants, you may also need to learn about the deadheading of Sunflowers, Marigolds, and Petunias.

Happy Gardening!

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