When is the best time to cut back my peonies? And how close to the ground?
Dead-head your peonies when blooms fade. I cut off several leaves to bring the stem in line with other leaves on the bush. Then leave the bush alone while it rebuilds the energy to produce blooms next year. In fall, the leaves turn a nice color; when that starts fading, cut them to the ground. Just make sure you mark the area so you know the exact location. (Learn from my mistakes.) Do not allow the leaves to remain over winter. Remove peony hoops and clean them. Peonies can get a virus that turns leaves black. Anytime you see this, remove the infected leaves/stems. Avoiding overhead watering is said to help prevent this problem.