How To Transplant Peonies

Ilona Erwin

May is the time when Peonies begin to bloom, and we start wondering “How to plant this beautiful plant in MY garden?”

Why Plant a Peony?

It is full of fragrant bloom for spring and the foliage remains beautiful all season.

This herbaceous plant is offered for sale in the spring, and that is when people usually buy the plant in containers to plant in their gardens. If this is you, and the season is spring, surf on over to the articles about Peonies in my Garden, it will tell you all about how to plant them in spring.

Peonies In My Garden
Successfully transplant your peony plants

Successfully transplant your peony plants

If you already have peony plants in your garden and are interested in transplanting them to a new location, here is the skinny on that.

  1. Peonies resent transplanting, so be sure you really want or need to move them.
  2. Wait until the month of September. The month of September gives the roots time to settle in and grow before frost hardens the ground.
  3. Cut down the foliage
  4. Dig around the plant in a circle to loosen the roots. I like to use a Digging Fork, aka Garden Fork. Once well loosened with as much root as possible use a spade to cut the roots still clinging outside the circle.
  5. Lift the plant with as much root as possible with the tuberous root growth.
  6. Divide them now if that is your desire. Be sure to leave 3-5 growth buds called “eyes” per each division. You will need a knife or sharp transplant spade to do this.
  7. Make a two dollar hole for a fifty cent plant: Make sure planting hole is dug with enough room for the roots to spread out.
  8. Replant eyes no more than two inches beneath soil, in a sunny spot with well drained, fertile soil.
  9. Firm the soil that is backfilled in, enrich it with a little bone meal. Mud in the plant (water thoroughly).
  10. Add a pine needle mulch in late fall (November) to insulate ground and prevent heaving of the newly transplanted peony.

Why In September?

Why September in particular? This month is ideal for moving perennial plants. They have started to go dormant and the roots or tubers will have stocked up with stores of nutrition. This is important for next years growth and flowering. September delays the cutting off of leaves, while giving plenty of time for a new plant to settle in before winter. Even if the late summer is dry, rains will begin in the early fall to keep new plants moist and help with the new roots.
pale pink peony

Fairy Petticoat Peony

Important Points for Peonies in Your Home Landscape

  • Peonies planted deeper than 2 inches often fail to bloom, better shallow than too deep.
  • Peonies in too shady a spot won’t bloom
  • Peonies need a cold period to bloom
  • The best time to move peonies is in September
  • Peonies may not bloom very well the first year after division or transplanting

Peonies are very long lived plants. They may outlive you! However they don’t like to be moved once established. If trees or shrubs have grown so large to shade them, you may not have much choice, and it is better to transplant than lose the flowers due to lack of sunshine.

Don’t worry if they have little or no flowers in the first year after transplanting, they are just settling in, and should bloom well after that. Peonies love to be fed, so inthe spring give them a dose of fertilizer meant for blooming plants.

Resource links:
Transplant peonies
Growing peonies

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Ilona Erwin, author

Meet the Author

Ilona Erwin

I started working on this website beginning in 1998, when it was part of Ilona's Reflecting Pool. Since then I've branched out into a number of online endeavors and work at writing lots of content for my sites. "Ilona's Garden" remains my primary site and is dedicated to home gardener's success.