Caring for your herbaceous peonies in the fall begins with a pair of clean and sharp pruning shears. It’s also important to have a container or compost bin nearby for collecting the discarded material, as proper disposal is crucial to prevent the spread of disease. Soil preparation will help your peonies grow strong roots before the colder months, so make sure your garden soil drains well; if it doesn’t, you may want to add organic matter to improve its structure. You’ll need a balanced fertilizer to provide the necessary nutrients for root development.
In the late fall, after your plant’s leaves have died, you’ll want to carefully trim the remaining foliage of your peonies back close to ground level. This step helps prevent disease from overwintering on the plant and directs the plant’s energy toward its roots. Following this pruning, apply a light layer of mulch, taking care not to pile it against the peony crown, as this can create a damp environment that promotes disease.
Make sure to water them well to help the plant retain moisture, which can sustain them while dormant during the colder months, especially when the ground is frozen. Keep an eye on your garden even as the fall season transitions into winter. If the weather turns harsh, consider covering the peony beds with burlap or any protective layer to shield the plant(s) from extreme conditions.