Peony News

How to get your peony plants off to a good start - fall planting tips.


  • SUN & SOIL - Plant peonies in a sunny, well drained location. Peonies love full sun; at least a half day of sun will provide abundant blooms. Plant on mini ‘hills’ to provide better drainage, if needed. Often there is no need to amend the soil; peonies grow in clay soils.
  • PREP - Dig a good hole for your root, about 12” deep by 12” wide. Spade up the soil you removed from the hole and put some back into the hole. Leave enough room to set your root in the top of the hole. 
  • ROOT DEPTH - Plant peony roots near ‘ground level’ (not very deep).  You can place the root at an angle or straight up and down, with the buds (eyes) of the root at the top, just below the surface of the ground. The fleshy part of the root (kind of like a carrot) will be pointing down into the hole. Cover the peony root until only one to two inches of soil covers the ‘eyes’ (buds). The ‘eyes’ will be just under ground level. Planting too deeply can stunt growth. When planting a peony from a pot, remove the pot and plant the peony so that the top of the ‘root ball’ is at ground level, with only a tiny amount of soil covering it. 
  • Water - Give your new planting a drink of water. Check to see if the root settled deeper. If it did, lift the root, slip a little soil under it and re-position the peony root so the ‘eyes’ are just below ‘ground level’ with only an inch or two of soil on the top of it. Water occasionally the first spring and summer. Once established, peonies are rather drought tolerant; although they appreciate a little water now and then in hot summers.
  • Care - Many gardeners never fertilize peonies, others fertilize each spring with a little flower fertilizer. In the fall, cut the stems to ground level and remove the old leaves and stems from the garden. The peony plant ‘eyes’ will reappear each spring. Peonies can grow for decades in the same spot without needing divided.

I've been busy shipping peony roots since early September and most of our early orders will be shipped within the next week. There is still time to order peonies for fall planting, as we will be shipping throughout the fall. 

Many gardeners wait until after the first frosts to cut back their old peony stems and to plant new peonies. With a lot of tender vegetable and flower plants, you worry about the first frost; but with peonies, it’s the time to start something new. You can plant bare root peonies anytime in the fall, whether frost is on the ground or not. 

Be sure to water in new peony root plantings and keep slightly moist until the fall rains come. 

For existing peony plants, cut the stems back to ground level each fall and remove the leaves and stems from the garden.  New shoots will emerge next spring.

Peonies rarely need divided – don’t feel as though you need to divide a peony every so many years. Unless you are seeing less blooms each spring on a mature peony (possibly from too much shade or overcrowding by other plant roots) you can leave a peony plant in the same spot for years – sometimes decades. If you do want to divide a peony in the Fall, split it into two or three pieces to re-plant, rather than planting the entire root ball into a new location. It helps stimulate new root growth.  

For more information on peony planting and care, check out our Peony FAQ.


Perhaps garden space is at a premium or you’d like to try growing a peony in a patio container. Because peonies grow very large roots, it is best to plant peonies in the ground for the long term; but, you can raise any peony in a large container – for a time.

While the average peony height ranges from 32”-36” tall, there are a number of shorter varieties 18”-28” tall that can be perfect patio peonies.

Some shorter peonies to consider: Allan Rogers, Border Charm, Joker, Lois’ Choice, Mandarin’s Coat, P. Lutea ‘delavayi’ and Shirley Temple.

 Border Charm peony Joker peony

Lois' Choice peony Mandarin's Coat peony P. lutea 'delavayi' yellow tree peonyShirley Temple peony

Select a large container, preferably ceramic, stone or wood. Plastic heats up and may not be the best choice depending upon summer temperatures. I have some compact peonies planted in 15 gallon containers that are about 7 years old and are still blooming profusely each spring. At some point the roots will want more space, they will lose their vigor; and, then I will divide them into two or three pieces and start over with fresh soil.

Three things to keep in mind if you raise peonies in pots: use big containers, as the roots are quite hefty; water more frequently than you would a peony planted in the ground; and protect them from prolonged severe freezing (below 15 degrees or so). Peony roots planted in the ground will endure severe freezing; but, you might want to protect potted peonies in arctic type winters. They should have a bit of moisture in the container soil. In the spring, summer and fall, container plants, including peonies, will need watering more frequently than those planted in the ground. 

When it’s time to re-pot them, you’ll likely end up with several nice divisions for more containers or to share with friends. The best time of year to divide and plant peonies is in the fall (September - November), before the ground freezes (frost is no problem). 

Potted and bare root peonies are for sale at our farm - open Fridays and Saturdays in September and October 2016 from 10 am – 4 pm.

Order bare root peonies online now for fall planting.

Brooks Gardens, an Oregon peony farm is located at 6219 Topaz Street NE, Brooks, Oregon, 97305. We are just over one mile north of Brooks, OR (between Woodburn and Salem, off of 99E) and 30 minutes south of Tualatin, Wilsonville and Canby, OR. About 40 minutes south of Portland, OR.

As I dig and divide peonies this fall, I sometimes discover a more ample supply of some varieties and add a few to the Brooks Gardens online peony catalog.

   One such beauty is ‘The Fawn’. It has an amazing flower   form and color. The pink petals are covered in tiny, darker pink dots. I understand the hybridizer B. B. Wright named it so, as a baby deer, a fawn, is covered in spots. When this one blooms, I want it all to myself. 

   I also added a few ‘Campagna’ peony roots. Pure white petals surround a golden center in cup shaped flowers. One of the earliest peonies to bloom each spring, they are one of hybridizer A.P. Saunders great creations.

   'Kelway’s Glorious', known to many as one of the most fragrant varieties is a true heirloom peony. The double, creamy white flowers have occasional crimson red edging. They’ve been a world-wide favorite since being introduced by Kelway in 1909.

   I also added a few 'Sugar ‘n Spice' (Rogers) peonies. The unique salmon-pink color is a real eye-catcher and an early season peony. The huge flowers and broad leaves make quite a garden statement.

I may add a few additional peony varieties as the fall progresses, so check in and browse the offerings now and then.

Bare root peonies are being shipped now and throughout the fall, the perfect time to plant peonies.  

As fall approaches and the weather cools, peony planting season arrives. Bare root peonies are typically planted in the ground from September through November. You can also transplant peonies from containers in the fall.

Peonies don't mind being transplanted, contrary to old tales we've all heard. As perennials, they simply take a couple of years to establish to maturity from root divisions. They can grow for decades in the same garden spot, providing an abundance of flowers each spring. There is no need to divide a healthy, mature peony plant; however, if you wish to do so, fall is the best time to do so. 

While frosty mornings won't affect peony planting, you should plant before the ground is frozen. For many areas, mid-September through October are prime planting months. November is also ideal in warmer areas.  

Here are some easy peony planting tips I've previously shared:

Good Sun  Pick a spot in the garden or yard that gets good sun and decent soil drainage and your peonies can literally last a lifetime. Full sun is great; a little shade is fine. 

Soil - Peonies love clay type soils with good drainage. You can amend the soil if you choose; but, often, there is no need to do so. 

Not too Deep - Spade up a good sized hole, so the roots will have room to spread out and grow. Place the fleshy peony root going down into the hole with the 'eyes' (buds) near ground level. Cover with spaded soil. It's very important that the peony 'eyes' (buds) are close to ground level, with just an inch or two of soil over them. Take care to not plant peonies too deeply.

In warmer climates, such as in parts of California, the peony eyes are placed at the ground surface (with roots going down into the soil) and the eyes are barely covered with soil.  

Water - Give your transplanted peony roots a drink of water and keep slightly moist until the fall rains come. Once established, peonies are rather drought tolerant. 

Peonies do well in USDA zones 2-8 and many gardeners are having success with them in zones 9. They do best with a winter chill and thrive in warm summers.  

Peony plants add texture, foliage and fragrance to your landscape and the flowers can’t be beat for cutting gardens.  Plant peonies this fall to enjoy gorgeous flowers every spring. 

Click here for more information on planting, growing and care of peonies.


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