Skip to main content

How to Plant Peonies: A Step-by-Step Guide

Kelly Lehman is the owner of Cranbury Fields Flower Farm and shows everyday gardeners how to grow amazing flowers on her Youtube Channel.

Learn how to grow your own gorgeous peonies!

Learn how to grow your own gorgeous peonies!

Peonies are one of my all-time favorite flowers to grow. I especially love the double peonies like the Sarah Bernhardt variety that have the big, gorgeous, beautiful, double bursts of flower blooms.

When and Where to Plant Peonies

The season and location of where you plant peonies are crucial if you want the plant to thrive and produce an abundance of blooms.

When to Plant Peonies

The best time to plant peonies is in the fall or spring. If you have a choice, fall is the best, but spring is the second-best time to plant them. If you're planting in the fall, make sure it's at least six weeks before the ground freezes so your peonies can get established.

When planting in spring, the first thing I do is wait for the temperature to warm up. Make sure that you don't put your peonies in the ground when the temps are too cold. If a cold snap comes, you might wind up getting some winter zap on some of the buds, which would stop them from flowering this year.

How to Find the Best Spot for Your Peonies

The best location for peonies has full sun, good air circulation, and well-drained soil.

  • Full Sun: Peonies like full sun exposure. Although they can manage with half a day of sun, they bloom best in a sunny spot. They should get six to eight hours of sunlight each day. If you're in zones eight through nine, it's helpful to get some protection from the hot afternoon sun with a little bit of shade.
  • Air Circulation: Choose an area that has great air circulation. You want to find a spot where the plants are not on top of each other. There needs to be a lot of space, especially around the base of the plant. When the plant has a lot of space around the base, it allows for the air circulation to move freely. This prevents a lot of fungal issues that often occur with peonies. It's also a great idea to choose a location that doesn't get a ton of wind because the wind can knock these heavy blooms to the ground.

"When the plant has a lot of space around the base, it allows for the air circulation to move freely. This prevents a lot of fungal issues that often occur with peonies."

Step-by-Step Instructions for Planting Peonies

  1. Give your plant a good soaking a few hours before you decide to plant it. That will help you if some of the roots are root-bound in the pot. You want to have some really loose roots. Watering beforehand also makes sure that your plant is hydrated when you put it into a new location.
  2. Dig a hole that's large enough for you to add some organic matter to the bottom of the hole before planting.
  3. Mix the organic matter into the soil. Make sure that when you plant your peony, the base is flush with the soil level, because peonies don't like to be planted too deep.
  4. Gently remove the peony from the pot.
  5. Give the roots a little bit of a massage because many times, the roots are super tight. If they aren't loose enough, the water will not penetrate the soil. It'll just stay on the outside. Make sure that you tease the roots so that you don't have any root-bound areas that are going to prevent your peonies from getting the water that they need.
  6. Plant your peony with no more than two inches of soil above the eyes. If you plant it too deep, you're going to wind up getting lush green leaves, but probably very few blooms—if any.
  7. Pop the plant in the ground and cover it with soil.
  8. Water your plant well because it's going to need that water to get nice and established.
  9. Make sure that your peony plant does not dry out. Check the soil for the next few days to ensure it doesn't dry out.

Additional Growing Tips

  • Be careful not to overwater your peony. Sometimes, people overwater their peonies, and the tuber can end up rotting.
  • You can help your peony plant thrive by adding a little bit of mulch around the plant.
  • Do not apply mulch to the crown of the plant, and do not build up mulch on the base of the plant. If you do that, then once again, you're going to be burying the plant too deep, and it probably won't bloom for you.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Kelly Lehman