Peonies, zones 3-8; Tree Peonies, zones 4-8;
(Southern gardeners should choose early-flowering singles for the best success)
Plant in Full Sun to Part Shade
(Peonies want about 5-6 hours of sun a day)
Soil pH: Neutral
Autumn is always the best time to plant peonies. Make sure to get them in before the ground freezes. The divisions we send are ready to plant.
When you get your plants, please check them. They are packed in breathable plastic and we recommend you cut it away instead of pulling on it, so you don’t damage any of the eyes. When they arrive please check them for moisture and make sure they haven’t dried out. Plant them as soon as you are able. If you cannot plant them right away keep them in their packing material, in a dry, cool place (like a garage). Make sure you get them in the ground within five days of delivery. If you live in an area that is fairly dry all winter you may want to soak your tubers in water for a few hours to rehydrate them before you plant.
Choose a sunny, well drained spot so your roots won’t rot from sitting in standing water. Remember they aren’t fond of being transplanted, so really think about your choice before planting. The tubers can be large or awkwardly shaped, so when you dig your hole make sure it is deep and wide enough to accommodate the tubers. While peonies aren’t fussy or overly sensitive, they won’t bloom well if you plant them too deeply, which means that the plants eyes (pink, or white bud-like pips on the top of the tubers) should be no more than 2-3cm (1 1/2 inches) deep. If you will be mulching you may want them even shallower. Once you have your hole, pack the dirt around the roots so the tuber will not settle too deep when watered. Please mulch or cover with hay the first winter to reduce frost problems.
Once planted, water and keep moist until the ground freezes. You might also want to think about marking the variety of peony you planted. They are all so stunning friends and neighbors are surely going to ask you what kind of peony it is and if you have my memory, you’ll need a tag to remind you!
Lastly, I have found that flowers will last longer if they are somewhat protected from heavy winds or rainfall, and especially in the South and West, the full force of strong afternoon sun. And I try not to let grass grow over my peony roots for the first few years.
Watering: We recommend an inch of water a week throughout the growing season.
Fertilizer/Soil and pH: Peonies only look fancy, but they aren’t too temperamental about soil. They respond well to an annual compost or aged manure as long as it is only about an inch deep. Then they should require no other fertilization, but it won’t hurt them if you like to fertilize your whole yard while watering.
Reflowering: Many varieties make several side buds that will open after the terminal bloom flowers, so it’s always a good idea to deadhead. After each flower is finished, cut the stem underneath the old bloom, leaving the foliage alone. If exhibition-sized flowers are desired, remove the side buds as they form and leave only the biggest buds.
After the first frost cut your herbaceous peonies to the ground. I like to leave a couple inches of stem above the ground so I can remember exactly where to find my peony when I am looking for buds in the early spring- as early as mid-February you may see signs in the Pacific Northwest! You also might want to add about an inch of mulch to keep your plants healthy too.
For Itoh’s and Tree Peonies I like to wait until early February and then I strip my Itoh’s and Tree’s of all dead leaves (Here in Seattle I strip my roses of all leaves at the same time to help prevent black spot, rust and mold.) Then, for the peonies, I trim the woody stems down to where you see the red eyes and snip right above the top eye on each branch.
If you ever have any concerns or questions about your peonies, just shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
I am always happy to help!