It may sound absurd, and yet hobby gardeners should not only winterize the arbor and empty the rain barrel shortly before the end of the gardening year. Peonies will only delight viewers in a few months – but they will only do so if they are “styled” again with secateurs before the first frost. In this article you will find out which growth forms should be cut back in autumn and what needs to be taken into account.

Before you use secateurs or pruning shears, it must be clear whether your peony is a perennial or a shrub. Shrub peonies form woody branches that can grow up to three meters long. Important: They lose their leaves in autumn and lay buds in the leaf axils of the new shoots that have already grown for flowering next spring. They are also often referred to as tree peonies. In contrast, perennial peonies emerge from the ground every year and produce colorful and magnificent flowers on each stem. As a rule, the individual shoots grow to a height of around one meter.

Like some other flowering perennials, perennial peonies can be cut back until mid-November. This isn’t rocket science. Boldly pinch off the above-ground part of each shoot a few centimeters above the ground. The clippings can be disposed of in the compost with a clear conscience and should not be left in the bed. When cutting, make sure the blade of the scissors is clean. Ideally, the herbaceous and slightly softer parts in particular should be cut with so-called bypass scissors. In contrast to ordinary secateurs, it has two sharp blades, which ultimately only leave a small cut, giving pests and pathogens little chance.

Tip: Disinfect the blades of the scissors with a few drops of alcohol before cutting.

Important: Do not cut back the perennial peony immediately after flowering. In doing so, you shorten the incredible lifespan of the early bloomer. It is believed that properly cared for peonies open their flowers up to 100 times.

So be patient until all the leaves and stems have wilted. The plant has then secured all the leftover nutrients and stored them in the rootstock for the next flower. The more nutrients are stored there, the more the peony will bloom after winter. To better protect the buds in the rootstock from frost, a solid layer of compost mulch helps. If you don’t want to risk anything, leave the withered stems and leaves standing and only cut off the shoots close to the ground in early spring. In this case, they serve as a cold barrier and protect the overwintering buds from frost damage.

Young shrub peonies are sensitive and significantly more sensitive to frost than their perennial counterparts. The shoot tips are most likely to protect the buds that are still hidden from temperatures below freezing. That’s why the scissors shouldn’t be applied here until February. And only moderately and if absolutely necessary. For example, frozen branches and dead wood that can be cut just above the ground are not necessary. Even wild shoots can go away. Overall, however, the following applies: If you are too aggressive with tree peonies, you risk hitting buds that have already formed. An irreparable loss.

Important: In autumn, remove any dead leaves that are still hanging between the peony branches. Fungi love the damp, old leaves and could harm the plant.

In contrast to perennial peonies, their shrubby counterparts become so woody after a few years that their branches can only be cleaned with a hand saw. Here too, it is important that the saw blade is sharp and disinfected with a little alcohol before work.

Sources: “”; Plantopedia; My beautiful garden

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