General gardening topics

Why are my Peonies not flowering?

Last updated on May 5th, 2022

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The Peony is a beautiful and stunning garden plant but it is particularly finicky about the growing conditions it receives. It needs the sun with a little bit of chill, it doesn’t want to be buried too deeply in the ground, and if you don’t give it the perfect growing conditions, you won’t get the perfect flowers.

Sometimes people who grow Peonies in their garden don’t get any flower buds or flowers at all, and other times you may get the buds but the buds never actually open, which when also combined with wilting leaves and is actually known as Peony Wilt. You can read about this disease in more detail here.

The buds will develop on healthy plants in some circumstances and then suddenly turn brown and fall off. So what are other potential causes?

Types of peonies - there are 3 types of peony, herbaceous which dies back in winter, tree peony which are deciduous and form a small shrub and hybrids.

No flowers or buds forming on a seemingly healthy Peony plant

If you have no flowers and no flower buds appearing on your plant at all throughout the entire growing season, it is likely due to inadequate growing conditions rather than a disease.

Inadequate sunlight – move them to a sunnier position in autumn

Peonies need sun in order to produce flowers. Like many plants, without enough sunlight, they will still survive but they have to put all of their efforts into maintaining the health of the main plant which means you don’t get any flowers. If your plant is not getting enough sunlight in the early spring it won’t be able to generate any buds.

If this is the cause we recommend lifting the plant in autumn once the foliage had died back and replanting it in a sunnier location.

Not enough nutrients – Feed with a liquid feed or slow-release fertiliser

If your Peony is under fertilised it might not be able to support the development of buds. This is very similar to inadequate sunlight. You can add liquid or slow-release fertiliser to the ground to help them.

Have you recently moved the plant to a new position?

Peonies don’t like to be transplanted. Make sure you find a position with adequate conditions and leave it there. If you transplant it, it can take years for the plant to recover from the move. While it will likely survive, during those few years while it is establishing itself in its new location, you probably won’t get any flowers.

Peonies need cooler temperatures to produce buds – remove mulch that may be around plants and don’t cover them with fleece

Peonies like a lot of sun but they also like cooler temperatures. If it doesn’t get cold enough during the colder months it won’t be able to set the buds and subsequently flower. If you suspect that this is a problem, although it’s not typically an issue in the UK, you can create an environment that provides it with a little bit extra cold, such as removing mulch or protective fleece from around your plants during the winter.

They are planted too deeply – The buds should be just underneath the soil surface

Peonies do not like to be buried too deeply. Whether you put it in its original position after dividing or have transplanted it into a new location in your garden, the eye buds on your tubers need to be slightly below the soil level. If you plant these buds too deeply underneath the soil, you’ve planted it too deeply and it simply won’t flower.

The flower buds appear but die and don’t open

If the buds appear on your Peonies but they simply fail to open, there could be other causes because they have obviously been able to develop buds.

Fungal diseases (Peony Wilt)

Fungal diseases such as Peony Wilt caused by Botrytis paeoniae can attack the flower stems just underneath the buds although it is infrequent. Primarily they attack the plant when the conditions are wet and cold.

The best practice to prevent this is to remove any dead flower buds and foliage you see in the late spring and get rid of any diseased foliage from the ground.

Learn more about Peony Wilt (Botrytis paeoniae) in this guide

A late frost in April or May

A late freeze in April or May, or an unexpectedly delayed freeze later in the season can seriously damage flower buds that have already appeared on the plant. This isn’t something that happens often and you will be well aware if your area sustained a late frost so you will know if that is the cause.

If the buds on your Peony have formed and the weather forecast mentions frost it may be worth putting some fleece over the plant until late morning.

Extreme weather such as drought when the buds are forming or about to open

Other extreme weather conditions can result in your Peony flower buds appearing but failing to open. Extremely dry conditions in the summer can leave your plant very weak and if you don’t water them properly, it will produce fewer flowers the following season.

Insects such as thrips

Pests, on rare occasions, can damage the flower buds so severely that they reduce flowering. Pests like thrips can be so damaging, but at this point, insecticides are often ineffective because the damage has already been done.

Lack of nutrients

Peony plants need proper nutrients, however, if they are growing poorly and not given enough nutrients to produce flowers, you might see the buds start to grow and then never open because there simply isn’t enough energy in the plant to keep the plant alive and produce the flowers.

You’ll know when your plans are growing poorly because they are weak, yellowish, a little spindly, and a bit off-colour overall. You might have to transplant them to a new location that’s more favourable and add fertiliser to help keep them healthy.

Welcome to my site, my name is John and I have been lucky enough to work in horticultural nurseries for over 15 years in the UK. As the founder and editor as well as researcher, I have a City & Guilds Horticultural Qualifications which I proudly display on our About us page. I now work full time on this website where I review the very best gardening products and tools and write reliable gardening guides. Behind this site is an actual real person who has worked and has experience with the types of products we review as well as years of knowledge on the topics we cover from actual experience. You can reach out to me at

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