Digging and Dividing Peony Roots

September 21, 2012

September and October are busy months for peony farmers and fall gardeners.  It’s the time of year to dig and divide peonies for propagating and for bare root orders for our customers.

Peony planting season is now through late fall in our area. Check with your local garden center or peony enthusiast for tips on planting months in your area. If you run out of time, you can extend your planting season by planting roots in pots this fall and plant them in the ground next year – just be sure to keep them from drying out and protect them from severe freezing in the winter.

Every peony root is different – the color, size and shape of the root will vary from variety to variety.  A peony root can be long and slender with huge eyes (buds) and another variety will have lots of side roots.  Some have small eyes or plump roots that taper down. Some are just plain ugly.  My Niece laughed and laughed when I said a particular plant had ugly roots. I guess she didn’t realize there can be attractive roots.  Sometimes I marvel at the sight of a lovely root. Little plants can have little roots and Intersectional peony roots can be rather large with a woody texture.

A standard root cutting will have 3-5 eyes. Our goal is ship a minimum of 4 eyes; occasionally a variety produces good root stock with fewer eyes per division.  Now and then a peony root division will have 10 or more eyes – it just depends upon how the particular plant divided. If you end up with a large number of eyes, you need to keep the total amount of root in perspective: a 6-7 inch root can support 4 eyes; but 10 eyes should have additional root to support the buds next spring.

Plant some peonies this fall: your senses will thank you each spring for many, many years (a healthy peony plant can thrive in the same location for years and years without needing divided – until you get the urge to increase your plantings).

Happy planting!  (Review our planting instructions/tips on this web-site).


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