Peonies are one of my favorite flowers, and they smell heavenly. But once peony buds start to open, the flowers quickly become too large for the stems to support the heavy flowers, and inevitably they go crashing to the ground. Adding peony supports at the right time will keep your peonies from falling over.
The biggest mistake people make with their peonies is leaving them completely unsupported. If peony flowers are left unsupported, they will collapse to the ground almost as soon as the buds open.
If peony flowers are left on the ground, they will only last a few days and you won’t get to see them in their full glory.
Why Are My Peonies Falling Over?
Peonies fall over because the stems aren’t strong enough to support the huge peony blooms. The peony stems may be able to handle the weight for a few days while the buds are opening.
But throw a rain shower or two in there and… timber! The peony flowers quickly flop to the ground.
It’s so sad to see a peony bush completely collapsed just at the peak of its bloom time.
If you give peony flowers support, the blooms will last several days longer, and more of the flower buds will be able to open on the bush.
How To Keep Peonies From Falling Over
It’s not difficult to add plant supports to keep your peonies growing upright. In order to give the proper support for peonies, you need to get some peony cages to hold them up.
Just make sure that the support you use is the right size for you peonies.
Some peony varieties grow taller than others, and will need taller supports to hold the flowers upright.
If your supports are too short, the flowers will simply collapse over the top of the supports.
Also keep in mind that a large peony bush will require a wider support than a smaller one.
Types of Peony Supports
Peony supports come in many forms, and the type you use will depend on how large your peony plant is.
Peony cages: If your peony bush is small to medium sized, then you can have lots of options.
You can buy peony support cages that are specifically made for flowers like peonies, like this one with stackable rings. Wire tomato plant supports (like these heavy duty wire tomato cages or these convenient foldable tomato cages) also work great to support a small peony plant.
Grow through peony supports: A peony grid, or other type of grow through plant supports also work great for supporting small peony plants.
DIY peony supports (homemade): For really large peony bushes, you will need large plant supports. The easiest thing to do in this case can use heavy-duty stakes and string or ties (I love using these stretchy plastic ties or this cut-a-size wire garden twist ties) to create your own plant hoop supports.
When To Add Peony Supports
The best time to add a support to your peony bush is either early in the spring before the stems grow too tall, or late fall after you have cut down the stems for the winter.
I prefer to add mine in the fall to prevent damage to tender new growth in the spring.
Then, as the peony stems begin to grow each spring (and they grow fast!), help them by carefully guiding them to grow through the center of the support.
Be gentle though, because the tender new growth can break really easily.
If you build your own peony support out of stakes and string, you can install it at any time. Just be careful not to damage the peony bulbs when you pound the stakes into the ground.
How To Support Peonies With Grow Through Plant Supports
If you’re using peony cages, wire tomato cages, or another type of grow through peony supports, position the support so that the plant is centered in the hoop.
Then you can simply push the legs of the support into the ground around your peony.
Ideally, the diameter of the hoops on your cages should be larger than the diameter of the rootball of your peonies.
If your peony cage is too small, you risk damaging the peony roots and bulbs when you push the cages into the ground.
How To Support A Large Peony Bush
If your peony bush is too large to use grow through plant supports, then you can create a DIY peony cage using plant stakes and ties.
You can also use this method for supporting peonies that are already flowering, to prop up any flowers that are already drooping, or to support peonies that are too tall for commercial peony cages.
Here’s what you’ll need to make homemade plant supports for peonies.
- Heavy duty stakes (the number of stakes you need depends on how large your plant is)
- Plant ties (I like to use twine, plastic plant ties or select-a-size wire ties)
- Hammer or rubber mallet
How To Make Peony Plant Supports Step-By-Step
Step 1: Position a plant stake a few inches away from the rootball, then use your hammer or rubber mallet to drive the it into the ground.
Step 2: Work your way around your peony plant, driving in another stake every few feet until you have made a circle around your peony.
Step 3: Tie one end of your plant tie to a plant stake, string it to the next stake, and wrap it around or tie it to the stake to secure it.
Keep wrapping the plant tie around each plant stake until you have a full ring around the entire peony bush.
If your peony already has drooping flowers, then gently lift them up as you work your way from stake to stake.
Step 4: Position the plant tie so that it sits just below the base of the peony flowers to give them the best support. If your peony ring is too low, the flowers can still flop over.
Don’t worry too much if your DIY peony cage isn’t perfect. Once the plant is done blooming, you can simply remove the support. I usually remove my peony stakes and plant ties when I prune my peonies after they’re done blooming.
But, I just leave my peony cages in year round. It’s too hard to remove grow through plant supports once the plant has filled in, and you can’t really see them through the thick peony leaves anyway.
Peony Care & Growing Tips
- Remove the spent peony flowers as the petals start to turn brown. This will encourage the small buds to open, extending the bloom time.
- Since they are such early spring growers, it’s best to cut down peonies in the fall after hard frost has killed the foliage. This also helps prevent pests and disease. Simply cut the plant all the way down to the ground.
- Trim your peonies after they’re done blooming to remove the dead flowers, and give the plants a nice shape for the summer.
- Don’t cut peony foliage down to the ground too early or your peony won’t have enough time to store up the energy it needs to bloom in the spring.
For more details about how to grow peonies in your garden, read my comprehensive peonies care guide.
Getting into the habit of adding your peony plant supports before your plant even start to grow will make it much easier to keep the flowers from flopping every spring.
But don’t worry if you forgot, you can still stake your peonies after the flowers have opened, and save them from crashing to the ground.
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Share your tips for keeping peonies from falling over, and tell us about your peony supports in the comments section below.