How do you winterize peony plants?

Answered by Robert Flynn

Wrapping peony plants with burlap in late fall is a common method to protect the stems from the harsh winter conditions in cold climates. The burlap acts as a barrier against strong winds and extreme temperatures, helping to prevent damage to the delicate stems of the plant.

To winterize peony plants, start by cutting back the foliage to about 2-3 inches above ground level after the first frost. This helps to remove any dead or diseased foliage and promotes healthy growth in the next season. However, it is important to note that you should not cut tree peonies to the ground, as this can cause long-term damage to the plant.

After cutting back the foliage, you can proceed to wrap the plant with burlap. Begin by loosely tying the burlap around the base of the plant, ensuring that it covers the stems and reaches up to the top of the plant. Be careful not to tie it too tightly, as this can restrict air circulation and potentially harm the plant. The burlap acts as a protective layer, shielding the plant from harsh winds and reducing the risk of frost damage.

In addition to wrapping the plant, you can also apply a layer of mulch around the base. This helps to insulate the roots and provide an extra layer of protection against freezing temperatures. Use a layer of organic mulch, such as straw or shredded leaves, and apply it to a depth of around 2-4 inches. Avoid piling the mulch directly on top of the stems, as this can promote rotting.

It is important to note that while winterizing can help protect peony plants, it does not guarantee complete immunity from winter damage. In extremely harsh conditions, such as prolonged periods of freezing temperatures or heavy snowfall, some damage may still occur. However, with proper winterization, the chances of severe damage are significantly reduced.

If by any chance the peony plant does get cut to the ground, there is usually no long-term damage and the plant will typically rebound. However, it may take some time for the plant to recover and produce blooms again. In such cases, it is important to provide the plant with proper care and maintenance during the growing season to help it regain its strength.

Winterizing peony plants involves cutting back the foliage, wrapping the plant with burlap, and applying a layer of mulch around the base. These steps help protect the plant from harsh winter conditions and minimize the risk of damage. While not foolproof, winterization can greatly increase the chances of a healthy and thriving peony plant in the following season.