My neighbor saw me cutting off (deadheading) the spent flowers on my peony plants and wondered if she should do the same. These beauties are unfortunately done flowering by mid-June. I had one bud left to bring in to perfume my house. Peonies only bloom once each season, so cutting off the dead flowers won’t encourage new blossoms. It will however make your plant more tidy and healthy looking.
So how do you remove the dead flowers without harming the plant? Simply take the flower stem and snip it down to the first set of leaves you see. That’s it. This will keep the plant from spending its energy on producing seed and give it a head start next season.
Some people fear they will kill their plants if they leave them alone until the following spring. It will still give you a lot of flowers. I cut mine down to the ground after the first frost. Always wait until the plant has completely browned, as late in the season as possible. Your peony will still flower if cut back too early, but won’t blossom well for at least a year.