Peonies will provide you with a lifetime of beauty if you take a little care in planting them the right way in the right location. Here are the key considerations.
Early fall—September and October—are the best times to divide and plant peonies roots.
Potted peonies may be planted in the spring, but best results come from fall-planted divisions.
Do not plant a peony were the roots will stay wet for a prolonged amount of time. A typical, well drained garden soil is best. Planting in raised beds is best if your site is too wet.
Do not plant where a peony has been grown before. Your new plant will not grow as vigorously as it should or may not survive. Research has not shown a clear reason for this, but practical experience over many years has shown this to be valid. If you must plant in the same location, remove all soil and root pieces in an area 36-inches wide and at least 2 feet deep and replace with good garden soil amended with well-composted manure.
Choose a site where your peony will get 8-10 hours of full sun in the summer. In very hot areas of the country, some light afternoon shade is best.
Plant 3 feet from other garden plants and away from trees or large shrubs that will have roots may compete with your peony.
Once the right site has been chosen dig a hole about 2 feet across and 12-18 inches deep.
If the soil is sandy and subject to drought, replace a third of the soil with peat. Heavy clay soil may also benefit from the addition of peat and/or gypsum. If the soil is too acidic—a ph of 6 or less—mix in some garden lime. Some bone meal or bulb fertilizer can be put into the bottom of the hole.
Begin adding soil back into the hole until it is high enough so that when the root is placed in the center of the hole the bud eyes on the root are no more than 2 inches beneath the surface. Continue to refill the hole, making sure that no air pockets are left around the root.
If conditions are dry, apply some water and mark the planning site. You may want to put little fence around the planting to make sure pets or children don’t step on and break the peony shoots when they come up in early spring.
In cold climates, where the soil is subject to freezing and thawing in the winter, apply a couple inches of mulch after the ground freezes for the first winter only. Coarse bark, straw or pine boughs work best Remove in early spring.