Tree peonies usually need little pruning, just some light clips to remove dead wood and spent flowers. They are extremely slow growing, and often take 10 years or more to fully mature. Severely cutting back a tree peony will remove the years of growth you patiently waited for, as well as its spectacular spring show. But here’s the good news:
You can absolutely butcher a tree peony without killing it.
Sometimes, hard pruning a tree peony can’t be avoided. If it was neglected for a long time, it might have a lot of rotten wood and roots. Simply clipping away this rot is easier said than done, since rot can be intermingled with healthy plant tissue. When this happens, surgery is in order. First, dig up the tree peony using the techniques outlined in my previous post about transplanting tree peonies. Then, methodically cut away all rot. I strongly suggest you take this opportunity to separate any singular top growths that have independent root structures since they can easily become baby tree peonies. Now back to rot. When cutting, you might have to cut away healthy tissue in order to get rid of the rot. You might feel more pain than the tree peony when doing this, but think of it as another opportunity to create more baby peonies while also ensuring the survival of their mother plant. How? Read my next blog post to learn about propagating tree peonies from root.
Do you need to renovate an old or unhappy tree peony? Gardinia would be happy to help! Learn about our Garden Consultation service.