How and When to Deadhead Peonies for New Blooms, From a Pro

The peony blooming season is a short but sweet one. When the last few petals have fallen, it’s time to deadhead your peonies. Removing the faded blooms is for more than just looks—it’s also important for the plant’s health.

This guide covers why and how to remove spent peony blooms with advice straight from a pro, so you can keep your shrubs nice and healthy for next year.

Meet the Expert

Keegan Nesvacil is the co-founder of Woodland Tools Co. and has been working in the lawn and garden industry for about 15 years.

When to Deadhead Peonies

The best time to deadhead blooms is after they’ve faded and are starting to wilt, but before the seed pods fully develop, according to Nesvacil. This usually occurs in the late spring or early summer.

Timing is key when it comes to deadheading. Cutting the old blooms before the seed pods form allows the plant to store more energy, which means an overall healthier bush next year.

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Why You Should Deadhead Peonies

The Spruce / Autumn Wood

There are a few reasons why deadheading peonies is worth your time. Aside from cleaning up the shrub’s appearance, Nesvacil notes that the process prevents diseases and prepares your peony plants to enter dormancy, which encourages a robust bloom in the following spring.

On that note, he also says removing secondary buds on the flowers before they bloom can encourage larger growth on the peony’s main bud.

The Best Way to Deadhead Peonies

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According to Nesvacil, deadheading peonies only takes three simple steps.

  1. Clean your pruning shears or scissors, and check to make sure they are sharp enough for use.
  2. Locate the wilting or dead part of the plant.
  3. Cut through the stem, just below where the green growth transitions into dead growth. Make sure to support the base of the faded flower as you cut.

Deadheading Tip

Don’t trim back the foliage from peonies after they bloom until right after the first frost of the year. If you remove all the foliage too soon, you won’t get any flowers the next year.

Addressing Buds That Never Opened

Not every peony bud makes it to the blooming stage. While it’s a common myth that ants help peonies bloom, a lack of opened buds doesn’t mean you need more ants in your yard.

If you have several brown buds that never opened, you’ll need to deadhead those, too. Your peony buds may fail to open if the plant receives too much shade or if they undergo frost damage in early spring.

You can transplant the bushes to a sunnier location in the fall and cover your bushes in early spring to encourage them to bloom more next year.


  • Peonies will re-bloom the following season after deadheading them. However, they only experience one bloom season per year.

  • Fresh peony blooms always make for lovely arrangements around the house. But as for old blooms, you can compost them. Another alternative is placing the old cut stems in a pile and mowing over them. Dried peony petals also make for beautiful decor or potpourri additions.

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