Tips for Planting Peonies this Fall

Planting peonies this fall? Here are some tips for peony site selection and planting:

* Pick a sunny, well drained location. Peonies love full sun. A bit of shade is okay; but, at least a half day of sun is required to get those abundant blooms.

* Dig a big hole for your root, about 15” deep by 15” wide. Spade up the soil you removed from the hole and put about two thirds of it back into the hole. The loosened soil under your new roots will allow them room to roam as they start to grow. You may amend your soil; however, peonies will grow in a variety of soils, including well drained clay soils. 

* Plant with the eyes 'buds' of peony roots near ‘ground level’. You can place the root in the hole at an angle or straight up and down. The buds (eyes) will be at the top, just one to two inches below the surface of the ground. The fleshy part of the root (kind of like a carrot) will be pointing down into the hole, or at an angle.

     ** If transplanting peonies from a container - remove the container before planting.

     **Intersectional Itoh peony roots can be planted a bit deeper. The roots are often full of eyes 'buds' and can be laid sideways or at an angle so all of the eyes can be covered with two to three inches of soil.

     ** In warmer climates, such as parts of California, our customers report success with setting the buds at ground level and covering with just a smidge of soil. The intersectional Itoh peonies  are also being grown successfully in the southern and California. 

* Cover the peony root with soil, taking care to place only one to two inches of soil over the buds (eyes). Water; then check to see if the root settled deeper. If it did, lift the root, slip a little soil under it and reposition the buds (eyes) of the peony root to just below ‘ground level’. Re-cover with soil. Planting too deeply can stunt peony growth. Keep slightly moist until the fall rains arrive. No need to over water.

* Peonies like good drainage. Think you need to increase the drainage for your newly transplanted peonies? Prepare a hole as above; but, fill the hole in with the spaded soil. Place the peony root at ground level with the buds (eyes) facing upward. Cover the entire root with soil, being careful that the buds (eyes) are covered with only two inches of soil.  This creates a hill (mound) above ground level, which improves drainage for the peony root. The mound should end up being about 15” wide and several inches high. Be sure to double check that the peony root is properly covered after the first watering.  

A bit of planning and prepping a good spot for your peonies can pay big dividends. They can grow in the same spot for years, rarely, if ever, needing divided. 

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