Peonies: How To Plant

Plain, simple, herbaceous peonies are among the most beautiful flowers in existence. Who isn’t fond of peonies? They are a favorite Summer for worldwide droves of people. You may think they can’t grow and take care of them, but they actually require far less maintenance than many other plants and flowers.

Better yet – the peonies are a perennial, meaning that they will return to your garden for more than two years when you plant them. In fact, they are famous for decades of growing at the same spot!

Peonies come in shades of white, pink, red, and even yellow, and they can be grown in Zones 3 to 8. They’re closely associated with weddings, which is why they’re often mistaken for being high-maintenance and expensive flower buds.

Luckily, once you learn how to care for peonies, you’ll be able to grow these beauties in your own garden and watch them bloom for many a Spring and Summer to come.

They do require a little patience after planting, but once they begin to bloom, they’ll work to beautify your garden without too much fuss.

Like many other flowers, peonies are available in different varieties, which all have slightly different blooming periods. If you’re curious about which varieties thrive in your hardiness zone, ask your local garden center for recommendations.

For example, some of the popular varieties include Fairy Princess Peony and Pink Hawaiian Coral Peony. Make sure you choose your favorite variety before planting!

WHEN To Plant Peonies

When it comes to peony care, the most important step is learning how and when to plant peonies properly. You have two options here: you can plant peony bare-root tubers OR you can plant a potted peony plant that’s already a few years old.

If you go the bare-root tuber option, you should aim to plant it in the Fall for best results. However, peonies require patience since they won’t bloom the first year and won’t produce ideal blooms until about the third year after they’re planted into the ground. That’s why it’s easier to buy a mature plant that’s at least a few years old. If you do this, then you can plant peonies in the Spring.

If you’re planting bare-roots in the Fall, make sure they contain healthy roots and have at least 3 healthy eye buds attached to the crown (just ask your local nursery for assistance if you have trouble picking them out).


Peonies are a full-sun perennial, so you’ll need to plant peonies in an area of your yard that gets 6 hours of direct sunlight each day. They will produce more impressive blooms if they get full sun. If you plant them in an area that gets too much shade, then you won’t get the gorgeous blooms you’re hoping for.

Let’s talk soil. Peonies prefer soil with a pH level of 6.5, so that’s what you should shoot for (you can test your soil yourself using a pH Meter). If your soil tests too acidic, simply add enough garden lime or calcitic lime to it to adjust the pH level.

You will need to work your soil with a garden fork before planting your buds, and prepare the area so that your peonies ‘ roots have the best chance of growing. Peonies in fertile, moist and well-drained soil should be planted – this is very important!

If the area in which you intend to plant your peonies is prone to water puddles, then this is NOT the ideal planting spot. Instead, choose an area of your yard that gets full sun and is less susceptible to collecting water puddles during rainfall.

Try to think back to rainy days – did a large puddle form in that vicinity? When you water, does the water travel away from the area after providing the soil with enough moisture or does it concentrate in that same area? Your answers to these questions will help you decide whether your peonies will get the well-drained soil they need to remain healthy.

Once you decide where your peonies will go, you’ll need to work some organic matter and a handful of granular fertilizer into the soil. To do this, dig a hole that’s about a foot deep, and toss organic compost and fertilizer into it, then toss a shovel’s worth of soil into the hole. Mix it all up using a garden fork. This will provide an ideal environment for your peonies.

Then, you’re going to plant each bare-root tuber no more than 1 – 2 inches deep, and 4 feet apart from each other. Always make sure that the buds are facing upwards. 

TIP: Do not plant your peonies too deeply, or they won’t flower. Rule of thumb: Don’t plant peonies deeper than two and a half inches.

After planting, water the area generously to let the soil soak in as much moisture and nutrients as possible.

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