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Peony Planting and Care

 Adapted from the Old Farmers Almanac,


  • Grow peonies in deep, fertile, humus-rich, moist soil that drains well.  Soil pH should be 6.5.

  • Provide shelter from strong winds. Plant away from trees or shrubs as peonies don’t like to compete for food and moisture. Space them three to four feet apart for good air circulation.

  • Peonies like full sun, and though they can manage with half a day, they bloom best in a sunny spot.

  • Most peony root starts have three to five eyes, and are divisions of a three- or four-year-old plant.

  • Peonies should be settled into place before the first hard frost.

  • Dig a generous-sized hole, up to two feet deep and two feet across. Enrich the soil with compost. Incorporate about one cup of bone meal into the soil. (Cool Cache Farms note for Alaska planting: A half cup of kelp, and a quarter cup of agricultural lime along with the bone meal and a quarter cup of 16-16-16 fertilizer is beneficial.)

  • Set the root so the eyes face upward on top of the firmed soil, placing the crown just 2 inches below the soil surface.

  • Then backfill the hole, and water thoroughly.


It will take your peonies up to three to four years to be mature enough to produce good blooms.

Apply compost in late summer, after the peonies have bloomed and you have deadheaded. Don’t fertilizer more than every few years.

  • Help the stems. If peonies have any structural weakness, Consider large three-legged metal tomato rings that allow the plant to grow through the center of the rings.

  • Deadhead peony blossoms as soon as they begin to fade, cutting to a strong leaf so that the stem doesn’t stick out of the foliage. Cut the foliage to the ground in the fall to avoid any overwintering disease.

  • Don’t smother peonies with mulch. Where cold temperatures are severe, for the first winter after planting you can mulch VERY loosely with straw or shredded bark. Remove mulch in the spring.

  • If you must move your peony at any time, make sure to do it in the fall, and divide the roots into at least two parts, or the peony will not thrive.

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