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For decades, peonies are a guarantee for romantic blooms in the spring garden. Peonies only live up to their reputation as a symbol of everlasting opulence if you plant the cottage garden roses professionally. This premise applies equally to perennial and tree peonies. The following guide explains in detail the knowledgeable process of planting, transplanting and repotting. Benefit from well-founded information on the ideal location and the correct planting technique. You can find out how to implement Paeonia correctly here.

The best planting time

It is primarily the herbaceous peonies that show off their lavish blooms in beds and tubs. First and foremost the common peony (Paeonia officinalis), followed by the Chinese peony (Paeonia lactiflora) and the splendid hybrids. The shrub peony (Paeonia × suffruticosa) is rarely involved in the picturesque spectacle of flowers because in our latitudes it can only be cultivated perennial in locations with mild winters. The following overview shows when the time window for planting is open for the various peony species.

  • container plants: from May to October
  • bare root tree peonies: from September to October/November

When purchasing container plants, please make sure that they are not rooted plants, but peonies that have actually been grown in pots. If growers simply move rootstock into containers for spring sales, the plants will either have no roots or very few.

This reduces the chances of a successful planting in April or May. On the other hand, you are on the safe side if you buy and plant your new garden beauties in autumn as real, bare-root goods.


This is what the exemplary location is like

Choose a location for your peonies that has not been populated with peonies in the past 10 years. In this way you effectively prevent growth depression as a result of soil fatigue. All species and hybrids thrive as deep roots and leave root residues in the soil, which pose a high risk of disease for future generations.

When young, farmer peonies should also not be exposed to the root pressure of adjacent trees and shrubs. Since the floral gems take their time with growth, it is not recommended to keep them with flower sprinters to counteract unwanted shading. With regard to the light and temperature conditions as well as the soil structure, the following attributes characterize the optimal location.

The optimal location:

  • sunny or shady position
  • preferably warm and sheltered from the wind
  • humus-rich, loose and nutrient-rich soil
  • Fresh, moist to moderately dry soil without waterlogging
  • preferably a slightly acidic pH of 5.5 to 6.5
  • in pot culture a high-quality compost-based potting soil

Some of the most magnificent peonies begin their blooming frenzy early in the year. For the delicate buds, this peculiarity is associated with the risk of being affected by delayed ground frosts. The frost itself is not the problem. Rather, the sensitive cell tissue does not always withstand the ordeal when the morning sun falls on the frozen buds and they thaw within minutes. If you include this aspect in the choice of location, nothing stands in the way of an annual blossom festival.

preparation of the earth

Regardless of when you decide to plant peonies, knowledgeable soil preparation sets the stage for lush growth. Before you devote yourself to the bed soil or the pot substrate, place the bare-root or potted peonies in water.

How to skilfully prepare the soil for the young plants:

  • Dig up the soil at least 2 spades deep and rake vigorously
  • Carefully remove stones, old roots and weeds
  • rake and rake again to generate a fine crumb structure
  • sprinkle the soil with mature compost or guano granules and work in superficially

Please also pay attention to the bucket substrate. Straight out of the bag, the potting soil usually still lacks permeability and structural stability. By optimizing the substrate with sand, lava granules, perlite breathing flakes and some leaf soil, you create ideal starting conditions for perennial and tree peonies.

Plant professionally

The planting technique differentiates between perennial and tree peonies. While the preparatory work described is the same for both types of cultivation, the paths involved in planting separate as follows.

Perennial Peonies

All herbaceous peonies thrive as digging plants, or hemicryptophytes in technical jargon. This definition refers to the fact that the outlasting buds are underground, while the above-ground parts of the plant die off every winter.

The right planting depth is therefore the most important premise for a lavish abundance of flowers. If the buds get too deep into the ground, in the worst case they will not sprout completely in spring. Above ground, however, the eyes fall victim to the frost.

How to do it right:

  • the planting hole corresponds to twice the volume of the root system
  • add some compost and horn shavings to the excavation
  • plant the peony so deep that the bottom buds are no more than 3 cm in the ground
  • fill the pit with soil and water it
  • do not mulch the soil so that the subterranean eyes can glimpse the sun

If it is one of the modern, intersectional Paeonia hybrids, the ideal planting depth is 5 to 6 cm. These hybrids of peony perennials and shrubs sprout from the base every year, but still have the ability to sprout and flower from overwintered wood after a mild winter.

tree peonies

Tree peonies are a composition of a scion and the root of a hardy wild species such as Paeonia officinalis or Paeonia lactiflora. Proper planting of these woody peonies aims for the noble hybrid to detach itself from the wild base within 2 to 3 years in order to develop an independent root system. Planting too shallow could ruin this plan. At least part of the noble variety is therefore buried underground.

That is how it goes:

  • the diameter of the planting pit is 50 to 60 cm
  • measure the planting depth so that the grafting point is 10 cm below the surface
  • press the soil well and water extensively
  • do not spread mulch

Customer-friendly tree nurseries and garden centers mark the grafting point with a label. Use this for your orientation and then remove it so that it does not grow into the bark later.

Correct planting distance

Measure the planting distance with foresight

Their slow growth belies the fact that peonies reach impressive proportions over the years. If you plant or transplant your floral treasures, please allow sufficient free space. Perennial Paeonia want a territory of about one square meter for unhindered development.

The intersectional hybrids are not satisfied with that, because they want at least 2 square meters of space. So that a tree peony can meet all expectations, there should be no neighboring plants within a 2 to 3 square meter radius.

Pot right

At least for a few years, peonies in pots on the balcony and terrace set blooming accents. The procedure differs only slightly from planting in the bed. The most important difference is the installation of a drainage over the water outlet. Before you fill in the recommended substrate, lay out some potsherds on the bottom of the pot to prevent waterlogging.

In addition, inorganic expanded clay balls are excellently suited as a water-carrying layer. If you also spread a breathable fleece over the drainage, the material cannot clog up so quickly. In terms of planting depth, the same specifications apply as for peonies in beds.

This is how you proceed when transplanting

Contrary to popular belief among home gardeners, you can still move your peonies years later. It cannot be denied that the long-lived farm roses only develop their optimum when they remain undisturbed. Nevertheless, moving to a new location is within the realm of possibility, provided you pay attention to the following guidelines when transplanting.

Appointment choice

The decision as to when to transplant or repot a well-established Paeonia largely determines how successful it will be. In the period from September to October, peonies cope with the stress so well that, under ideal conditions, they will already present their first flowers in the following season. When you repot a bucket Paeonia is your individual decision. If you choose a date in spring, the flowering time will be postponed to next year.

Transplanting and sharing go hand in hand

Transplanting a fully developed peony in its entirety to a new location is usually not crowned with success. However, if you follow the instructions below, you can look forward to new buds and flowers after 2 years at the latest.

  • Cut perennials back to 10 cm
  • remove the foliage from tree peonies
  • Dig up the rootstock and rinse thoroughly
  • Cut the root ball with a sharp knife
  • each piece has at least 3 eyes

On the herbaceous peonies you can see the sleeping eyes as small bumps under the bark. The buds on tree peonies are more noticeable because they are usually reddish in color. Please ensure that each segment has 3 or more of these dormant buds to allow for multiple vigorous shoots to develop in the next season.

You set each section promptly at the new location in the previously prepared soil. For perennial peonies, the ideal planting depth of 3 cm applies to the lower eye. Since the noble variety has now separated from the wild rootstock on adult peony bushes, we recommend a planting depth of 5 cm in this case, which is also standard for intersectional hybrids.

Repot properly

If a peony has completely rooted through the tub, you can no longer avoid changing to a larger container. You should repot the cramped plant at the latest when the root strands grow out of the opening in the ground or press through the substrate. At least in the first 3 to 5 years, peonies in the tub provide a flowery rendezvous, until they then break the dimension and are better planted in the bed.

Follow these steps correctly:

  • unpot the root ball and clean from old substrate
  • create drainage on the bottom of the pot and cover with an air- and water-permeable fleece
  • fill in a first layer of potting soil
  • measure the height so that the previous planting depth is maintained
  • fill in the rest of the substrate, press and water

Choose a sufficiently large bucket with a volume of at least 20 liters so that you do not have to subject your peonies to the stressful procedure every year. The extent to which there is a transplant shock, after which the flower fails for a long time, depends on the constitution of your peonies.

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