A Guide to Planting Peonies

Ningthoujam Sandhyarani Jan 18, 2019
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If you think planting peonies is a challenge, consider it again. The long-lived, bulbous peony plants produce lovely blooms with simple care instructions. For info on how to plant peonies, read on.
Spectacular peonies brighten up any garden design with large, showy blooms. Once planted, they continue to grow for several years, provided that specific growth requirements are maintained properly.
Gardening experts are of the opinion that the same peony plants last for approximately 50 years, which is definitely a long time for flowering plants. Also, some of the varieties are richly fragrant, thus you simply can't give excuses for not planting peonies in a flower garden.

Peony Plant Requirements

Requiring stringent care level, growing peonies may be challenging for beginners. Tricks of healthy peony and heavy blooms are to select correct location, preparation of planting area and placing bulbs at ideal depth.
However, before you consider planting peonies, see whether you can provide the given basic growth factors of these lovely perennials.
  • Peonies adapt in the USDA hardiness zones 7 through 9. With proper care, they thrive in zones 8 and 9 too.
  • Propagation of peonies is done by means of bulbs, bare root plants and container grown young peonies.
  • Peony bulbs are best to grow in full sun, but they also tolerate garden areas falling in partial shaded condition.
  • Preferred garden soil for peony plantation is well-drained soil, rich in organic matter and farmyard compost.
  • The soil pH should be near normal (about pH 7). But if it is not available, mild acidic soil works well.
  • Ideal time for planting this plant is fall. They get enough time for establishment before the arrival of cold winter.
  • Exposure to cold chilling temperature (winter dormancy) is a must for blooming of peony in flowering period.
  • In areas where spring temperature is high, blooming period is very short. Get rid of spent blooms to lengthen flowering duration.

How to Plant Peonies

Besides selecting a sunny location in the yard, make sure there is enough room for optimal growth of peonies. If available, opt for an area that is far away from shrubs and trees. Otherwise, the roots of these perennial flowering plants compete with adjacent plants.
This may reduce the plant vigor and flower size, which you do not want at any cost. Given further are some useful instructions for planting peonies from tuberous roots.

Select Peony Varieties

Peony plants are highly versatile in terms of flower color. Also, you can choose from single petaled, double and semi-double petaled peony flowers. As you look for peony cultivars, you will come across three growth forms.
They are the popular herbaceous peonies (Peony lactiflora), tree version (P. suffruticosa) and intersectional types (a hybrid of herbaceous and tree peonies).

Prepare Garden Soil

If spring temperature in your area is dry and hot, garden location getting morning sun is preferred over sunny sites. For planting peonies in fall, garden soil preparation should be performed several weeks before the planting.
Add a handful of compost and a low dose of phosphorus fertilizer in the plantation site. Work well to mix them with soil, and allow to set for some days.

Planting Peony Bulbs

When you have decided the spot and prepared the soil, dig a planting hole that is at least 18 inches wide and of the same depth. Locate the eyes (pink sprouts) that should point upwards. These buds are very fragile, hence careful handling is expected to preserve them.
Fill soil halfway, and place the peony crown, ensuring that the buds will lie about 1½ -2 inches below the soil. Shallow placement will cause drying of the buds.

Watering Peony Plants

Keep the soil moist. During the summer, they need deep watering regularly.
Mulching around the peony plants is a simple measure to conserve soil moisture, keep the soil cool and control weed growth. So, lay organic mulch about 2-4 inches thick as a part of planting peonies and caring them. But, do not forget to remove them in winter, or replace mulch with loose straw to reduce disease infestation.

Fertilizing Peony Plants

Apply fertilizer twice a year, first in spring and second in summer, after flower production. Overfeeding with nitrogen rich plant foods results in stressful condition for peonies.
Ensure that fertilizer is not in direct contact with the fragile root system. After adding it, water the plants thoroughly to dissolve fertilizer. The plants at maturity grow to about 3 feet height and bloom in spring of the planting year.

Transplanting Peony Plants

Peonies should be planted in spacious spots, where they can grow and proliferate for many years without transplantation. In case of necessity (after 10-15 years), you can transplant them in another location.
So, when to transplant peonies? Autumn is the perfect time for transplanting peonies. Dig soil around the main stem to uproot the plants with intact roots. Shake plants to remove soil, and follow the same tips for planting peony roots.
To ensure production of larger blooms, consider removing buds that develop near to the mother plants. As the flower fades, deadhead them to conserve nutrients for inducing other blooms. After flowering season is over, trim off the foliage and stem just above the ground level. These basic peony care tips prepare the plants for next year's blooming season.