How to Deadhead Peonies | Deadheading Peony Flowers Helps!

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Learning how to deadhead peonies can help your gardens look tidier and offers benefits to the plants, too. Deadheading peonies is an easy task you can do in a matter of minutes, even with a little help from your kids!

The intoxicating fragrance of peony flowers takes me back to my childhood. My mother grew them and would always let me take a peony bouquet to my teacher in May. I loved doing this, even if it wasn’t popular with the other kids in school.

I’m currently growing three different kinds of peonies in our flower gardens – some I bought as a single peony tuber at Walmart and others I’ve received from a generous gardener splitting hers. One day, I will happily share the peony tubers with my own girls if they want some!

Daughter Holding Pink Fluffy Peony Flower in Garden in Blue Dress
Check out that lipstick to the matching shade of pink peony!

From what I understand, peonies are a prized perennial that are often shared as a sort of heirloom from parents or grandparents to the younger generations.

I’m totally down with that and hope to get some of my mom’s peonies one of these days, if I can devote a little more garden space!

Do you have any peonies from a loved one? Tell us in the comments!

And in the meantime, we’ll give you the full scoop on how to deadhead peonies!

Dead Peony flowers brown and dry after a thunderstorm followed by hot sun
Dead Peony flowers, brown and dry after a thunderstorm followed by hot sun

Benefits of Learning How to Deadhead Peonies

Deadheading peonies is a gardening task that offers quite a few benefits. Check these out!

  • Improving the Plants – Without seed heads or spent flowers to fuss with, these hardy perennials can spend effort on improving the plant itself.
    This may include:
    • Increasing tuber size
    • Storing energy for next year
    • Developing better roots
  • Tidying up the Garden – Snipping away the spent peony flower heads removes the unsightly part of the plant once it’s done blooming. Keep the green foliage to help gather energy for next year.
  • Easy, Quick, and Rewarding – Deadheading peonies is a quick, easy, and rewarding yard task. This task is perfect for the next time you only have 5 or 10 minutes to spare in the garden.
  • More Blooms, in the Future – While it’s unlikely you’ll get a second round of peony flowers this season, still do it! Deadheading peonies will help the plant put out more and better blossoms in the future.
  • Making the Plants More Compact – Since we let our peonies grow until they die back in the fall, trimming off deadheads helps to make the plants a bit more compact. This allows us some space in the garden to grow zinnias, hyacinths, or sunflowers (or other flowers) in front of them or behind them.

Can you think of more benefits of deadheading peonies? These are my favorites and make it so worthwhile to spent a little extra time with these plants.

Looks like time to deadhead peonies!
Looks like time to deadhead peonies!

Should You Deadhead Peonies

If you’re wondering, should I deadhead peonies, you’re on the right track! Deadheading peonies helps to tidy up the garden and directs the peony plant away from seed production and trying to maintain dying blooms. Instead, when you do deadhead peonies, you are helping the perennial to become stronger for next year.

When to Deadhead Peonies

Knowing when to deadhead peonies is easy if you watch your plants closely. Oftentimes, the blooms begin to fade and look messy with brown, fallen petals. This generally happens after a big rainstorm, or simply when the blooms are dying back. If you notice these brown blooms or flowers where most of the petals have already fallen off, now is a good time to deadhead peonies.

Of course, you can also deadhead peonies well after this time. Perhaps you’re too busy or you’re in the midst of a heat wave or a monsoon. Simply snip off the dead flower heads when you have time and remember. Better late than never!

Discover how to deadhead peonies for a neater garden!

Do Peonies Rebloom after Deadheading?

When you deadhead peonies after blooming, they do not rebloom. These perennials bloom once per year, regardless. However, deadheading peonies does allow the plant to focus on storing up energy for the next season’s growth instead of making seeds. Deadheaded peonies also look much nicer in the garden than those merely left alone.

How to Deadhead Peonies: DIY

Discovering how to deadhead peonies is easier than you might expect! If I trusted my kids more with scissors, I bet they’d love to do it for me!

Deadheading peonies with pruning shears
Deadheading peonies with pruning shears

Follow these steps to deadhead peonies quickly and easily:

  1. Grab your favorite pruning shears or sharp scissors and a bucket for yard waste.
  2. Snip off the peony deadheads below the spent bloom. If you want to cut back about one-third of your plant in the process, the peonies should be okay with that. (Your mileage may vary – we wanted some extra space so I generally do this.)
  3. Deposit the dead peony flowers and other refuse in the bucket.
  4. Discard the flower heads, stems, and leaves you cut off wherever you get rid of your yard waste. (Do not compost!)
Pruning shears clipping a peony deadhead
Pruning shears clipping a peony deadhead

Did You Know?

You should NOT compost peony plant matter. Peony leaves and spent blooms can provide just the right environment for botrytis (fungal disease).

This could be devastating to spread through your gardens along with your compost.

Lots of dead peony flowers deadheaded from the bush

I have my heart set on some dark pink peonies that I believe are called Karl Rosenfield peonies! I just need to dig out another flower bed somewhere…

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Final Thoughts: Do You Deadhead Peonies?

Do peonies need to be deadheaded? Well, the truth is, they will survive just fine if you don’t remember to deadhead these flowers.

Of course, it’s a rather quick and easy task that you can do in between other gardening projects and chores. So, why not?

I deadheaded my peonies in June after they were totally done blooming for the year. I am glad that I did, because the remaining peony foliage looked much nicer without the raggedy flower heads sticking up everywhere.

Bouquet of peonies and roses I made for my bestie
Bouquet of peonies and roses with coral bell spray I made for my bestie

What is your preference? Do you deadhead peonies? Or do you have any questions about peonies and deadheading? I’d love to chat in the comments below!

By the way, if you liked this post, you might also enjoy these posts on deadheading:

06.16.22 – Edited to add more photos and improve spacing. Also increased existing photos to full size.

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6 Comments

  1. My peony bush was just starting to have beautiful flowers when we got strong rain. My bush’s stem have fallen. Can I cut flowers off for a vase saving the beauty or just let it lay there. Until I hear i am now going to spike.
    Thank u

    1. Hi Judy! Our peonies were doing beautifully too, and then we also got whacked pretty bad with some rain storms. So sorry to hear that happened to you as well. I think you would love to enjoy the flowers in a vase – I just cut some today because we had a severe thunderstorm warning. I hope you see this message in time to still enjoy some. Staking the peonies is a fantastic plan – mine really need it and I just need to get some proper peony stakes to make it easy. Good luck – I hope you get to enjoy your lovely, fragrant flowers!

  2. I HAVE A FRIEND WHO CURED PEONY RAIN DROOP. WE USE TOMATO CAGES WITH THE FOLAGE THEY DISAPPEAR AND THE PLANTS WITHSTAND WIND AND RAIN

    1. Hi Pat, thanks for sharing this helpful info! So happy to hear you and your friend have found a solution to the peony rain droop – mine could really use the supports to prevent this. I started with a peony cage that looks like half of a tomato cage (one tier only) and I may look into better staking options for next season. 🙂 Best of luck to you and your friend with your gardens!

  3. I recently did some gardening for a friend and it included deadheading her Peony plants. They had seed pods and I am curious if I can plant the seed heads or if I should just toss them. Thank you! Angie

    1. Hi Angie! I have been wanting to try this myself but haven’t seen viable seeds yet in my own peony pods. I would definitely give it a try if you can! Best of luck and please let us know how it works out!

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