How To Plant & Grow Spectacular Peonies

Picking a location:

Plant your peonies in a sunny, well-drained location.  Six hours of full sun is recommended.  Space peonies three to four feet apart on center to provide lots of air circulation around the plant.  Peonies prefer heavier soil rich in trace elements.  You may consider applying Azomite when planting and at intervals with fertilizer or compost over the subsequent years.  Peonies grow well in USDA zones 2-8. Warmer climates do not provide adequate chilling hours for reliable blooming.

When and how to plant:

Peonies may be planted anytime when the ground is not frozen or extremely dry.  Soak roots in water for a few hours if they appear very dry.  Lime is beneficial if the planting site is acidic.  Loosen soil and apply generous amounts of compost when planting.  Do not use fresh, un-composted manure around peonies because it can contribute to the development of botrytis, a common and possibly fatal fungal disease for peonies.  Mix a couple of handfuls of lime, some compost and any peat moss the peonies were packed in, in the bottom of a generous hole that is wider than deep. Remove any tags or rubber bands.  It is good practice to bury labels alongside or under your root for future reference and identification purposes. The writing will remain legible indefinitely so long as the labels are buried and not exposed to sunlight. Plant peonies with single root projections at a slight downward angle and stem remnants and eyes pointing upward.  If the peony has roots extending from both sides, bury it flat. Plant so there is not more than 1.5” of soil over the eyes.  If the hole is deep and/or loose at the bottom, firm it first, so that the peony doesn’t settle deeper after planting.  

Planting peonies too deep is the most common cause for blooming failure. The warmer the climate, the shallower they should be planted. In the Pacific NW, one and one half inches is ideal. Plants may be mulched the first year after planting to prevent heaving, though it rarely necessary in the Pacific NW.  If you do mulch, the mulch must be removed promptly in spring when cold weather abates to prevent the development of fungal infections.  In the fall, after cutting back foliage to a length of 1-2”, dispose of all debris and plant matter in the trash.  DO NOT compost or burn because botrytis spores can be spread easily by either method.  By practicing good garden hygiene one can avoid entirely the use of anti-fungal chemicals.

When planting potted peonies, follow the same instructions. Be very gentle when dislodging the peony from its pot in order to not disturb or injure the tender feeder roots.  Plant at the same soil level as it was in the container or one and a half inches to two inches above the eyes. Transplant only in the cooler months of spring or fall.  Peonies left in containers need protection from severe freezes in winter.

Thank you for planting our peonies,