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How to Plant Peony Tubers in the Fall

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

My dog Lucy loves these flowers, too.

My dog Lucy loves these flowers, too.

How to Plant Peonies in the Fall

In this article, we'll look at:

  1. When to Plant Peonies
  2. Where to Plant Peonies
  3. How Deep to Plant Peonies
  4. How Far Apart to Plant Peonies
  5. Step-by-Step Planting Instructions
  6. Should You Use Mulch?
  7. How to Care for Peonies

When to Plant Peony Tubers

Fall is the best time to plant your peony tubers. You want to wait till temperatures cool down to about 40 or 50 degrees at night, and you want to make sure that you give your peony tubers at least six weeks to get established in the ground before there's a hard ground freeze.

Now, a hard ground freeze is very different than a light frosting. Even if you get a frosting at night, you might have temperatures warm up the next day and the ground might still be kind of thawed out. So, don't worry if you don't think you have enough time to get them in the ground: You still might have a few weeks, because it takes a while for the ground to get really frozen.

How Deep to Plant Peony Tubers

When you have your peony tuber ready, you want to make sure that the hole that you dig is a lot bigger and a lot wider than the size of the tuber, but not a lot deeper—it should only a little bit deeper.

Never Bury a Tuber More Than Two Inches Above Its Crown

One of the tricks to getting great peony blooms is you never want to plant more than two inches above the crown of your peony tuber—because if you do that, chances are you're going to get really nice, lush green leaves but you're not going to get too many blooms. In fact, you might not get any blooms.

Peonies do not like to be planted too deep. That's the key.

How Far Apart to Plant Peony Tubers

Make sure that they have a lot of space in between them, because peonies like to have a lot of aeration around their stems. If you're going to have a few of them, plant them at least three to four feet away from each other, and make sure that they're not crowded by other plants.

Don't Forget to Water Them In

Also, make sure that you water your tuber in. If it's not going to rain within the next few days after you plant them, make sure that you add some water yourself because they need this to start the whole process of getting established in the ground.

Step-by-Step Planting Instructions

  1. Check the Soil: A lot of times I will plant my peonies just with the soil that's in my farm, but sometimes I have a few patches of land where I know the nutrients are kind of depleted. If this is the case for you, you can do a soil test. You can send out your soil to get it tested and see if you need more nutrients in your soil. Sometimes I'll add a little bit of compost.
  2. Dig Out a Hole: Make sure the soil is really chopped up. You don't want to put a peony in the ground where the soil's really packed together because you need time for the roots to get established. A nice, beautiful soil that's all chopped up will help those roots spread out and get established before the winter sets in.
  3. Backfill: Backfill the hole a little bit if it seems deep. Put the tuber in as a test run. Make sure the hole is not more than two inches above the crown, and make sure you have lot of space built around the peony so that it has a lot of room for those nice roots to start spreading out.
  4. Plant: Plant gently, because you don't want to break off the eyes on the top of the peony tuber. Remember as you're filling this in: You're only going to bury it about two inches above the crown. That's really important. I can't stress that enough.
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How to Care for Peonies

Peony tubers take a while to get established. So the first spring—when you're expecting beautiful blooms—you may only get green leaves, even if you did the best possible planting practices. Or, you may just get one bloom, and that's normal.

You may have to wait until year two to see one or two blooms coming up. Then, by year three, they really start taking off. Sometimes you'll be lucky and they may start taking off sooner than that. But remember: Don't get discouraged, because then after they get established after a few years, they will really take off.

Peonies are one of the easiest plants to grow. They come back for decades. Some people say that a lot of the varieties come back for 100 years, and they give you these beautiful, gorgeous, soft, cushiony, fluffy flowers that everybody goes crazy for in the spring.

They're so worth it, and they're super low-maintenance. Once you get them in the ground, there's hardly any maintenance: You just make sure that they have enough water throughout the season (and usually Mother Nature takes care of that!).

I've heard somewhere that the peony is a flower that thrives on neglect, and I think that's because they really don't need a lot of maintenance or care.

Best of Luck With Your Garden!

I think you guys are going to love having these peonies in your garden. They're a terrific spring flower, and there are so many different varieties. And once again, once you get them in the ground and they get established, that's it. There's usually very little care involved.

Please feel free to leave me a comment or a garden question below. I would love to hear from you. Thank you so much for joining me in this article, and I will see you in the next one.

More Tips for Peonies

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


Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on October 13, 2021:

I love peonies and grew them when we lived in Wisconsin. A friend shared some of her beauties with us and each year we had more of them.

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