How To Grow Peonies From Cuttings

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Last Updated on June 21, 2023 by Tony Manhart

Peonies are a really big group of flowering plants in the genus Paeonia. When we look at how to grow peonies from cuttings we must be cognisant of the fact that they take up three broad growth forms, with tree peonies being the ones that are most likely to be grown from cuttings. In this article, we will look at how to grow tree peonies from cuttings. You can grow herbaceous types from clumps so there is no point growing them from cuttings. Let us have a look at how to do this, and some quick sneaky tricks that work well for growing cuttings.

Why Do We Grow Plants From Cuttings?

If you grow a plant from a seed, it will produce a genetically unique plant. When this plant gets mature it will produce seeds and these, if grown, will produce genetically unique plants.

plant from a seed

If however, instead of planting a seed, we take a cutting of the plant and root it, this cutting is genetically identical to the plant we took the cutting from.

Cuttings are a nice way for us to clone plants from a mother plant that has traits that we like. For example, if we hybridize two peony parent plants, and produce seeds. We would then plant these seeds and we may find that a thousand seeds produce really ugly plants, but one seed produces a peony with exceptional characteristics. This peony will be our mother plant, and we will take cuttings from it to produce clones. With time this single plant will produce tens of thousands of plants around the world as the cuttings are spread to new areas and grown there.

When we look at how to grow peonies from cuttings, one of the main reasons we do this is to propagate plants that produce pleasant flowers and growth styles. Growing them from seed can produce some pretty unattractive results by comparison due to genetic variability. In many cases, peonies are in fact hybrids of different species and these do not even produce viable seeds, hence cuttings are essential for the propagating peonies.

Learn more about: How To Plant Peony Bulbs – An In-Depth Look

How To Grow Peonies From Cuttings

My Way

In my case, I actually had no idea what I was doing and just took a few peonies’ branches, cut them off, and defoliated the leaves a bit, leaving just a few growth shoots and leaves. I then took a knife and scratched the grey stems a bit and rubbed some rooting hormone (from my other cultivation projects) into them. I placed the stems in small pots in my cloning chamber. Within a few weeks, they took and the plants grew nicely. However, reading up a bit I see that this was possibly blind luck and there are much better ways to go about things!!

The Proper Way – Branch Layering

When we look at how to grow peonies from cuttings it appears I just lucked out with the method I used above and that they are generally quite difficult plants to get to root from cuttings. An excellent method to get more difficult to root plants to root is to just take a branch and scratch the bark behind a few buds and then put a bit of rooting gell on this scuffed area. You then bury the branch 3 – 4 inches into the soil and leave it to root. The branch is attached to the mother tree, and the rooting process is slow, but will eventually take.

I have had success with many difficult to root species using this method and have in more recent years also found these things to be helpful.

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I have not tried them with peonies, but see no reason why they would not work. When we consider how to grow peonies from cuttings, these work on far more complicated plants!! The advantage of these units is that you don’t have to bend a branch down to ground level. The disadvantage is you have to remember to go and water them from time to time – and some of these plants take months to root.


Learn more about how to make Homemade Root Hormone in the following video:


Can We Root Peonies In Water?

There is always that lucky moment when you may get something like this right, but generally, they do not root in water. The plants just dry out and die over time when left in water. In parts of the world where you have aloes, you may wish to try rooting cuttings in water with aloe leaf in the water. There is something about an aloe leaf that allows you to root many things that will not root easily in any other way. Again, I have not rooted peonies using aloe leaves, but I know of people who have used these leaves and water to root a range of “plants that do not grow from cuttings”.

When we consider how to grow peonies from cuttings, the conventional wisdom is that you will most likely not be able to root a peonie cutting in water. This does not mean it is not possible – it just means that nobody has figured out an easy way to do it! Maybe you will be that person. Try some aloe leaves in the water and see!

Interesting Medical Notes

Peonies have been used for medicinal purposes in the traditional medicines of many cultures. In China specifically, these plants have a history of use dating back thousands of years. Different species are used to treat different symptoms.

The main medicinal compounds in peonies that are propagated for commercial medicine production are the phenolic ketone,  paenol (a well-known example of a phenolic ketone is raspberry essence), and the monoterpene glucoside paeniflorin. These are highly bioactive compounds that can be used in the treatment of symptoms and issues. When we consider how to grow peonies from cuttings, we are not just growing a pretty plant! We are growing a medicinal treasure chest.

I hope I have helped you see how to grow peonies from cuttings, and also why growing these beautiful plants is beneficial both for your garden and from an ethnobotanical side! These plants are beautiful and medicinal! Share if you enjoyed the article.

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Will peony grow from cuttings?

This will depend on the type of peony. Tree peonies can be grown from cuttings - this is not an easy task, but it is possible. The other types are best grown by dividing clumps of peonies.

Can a peony be rooted in water?

Generally no. This does not mean it is not possible - it just means that most people have not figured out a way to do it that works! If you are an experimental type, do some reading and try different tricks. But as it stands right now, this is not a good way to root them.

How long do peonies last after cutting?

We will assume you refer to flowers - work on a maximum of about 5 days after which they start to look less happy. There are tricks, and things you can put in the water to extend their life a bit - but we are gardeners! Grow them and throw and replace them when they start looking a bit flat.

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