How to Separate Peonies
Although peonies may grow for many years without being divided, the plant may eventually become overcrowded, and as a result, blooming will decrease markedly. Division can give an old peony plant a new lease on life, with more and larger blooms. For best results, divide your peony plant in September. The separated peonies may not bloom the first or second year, but the plant should be blooming in all its glory by the third or fourth year.
Things You’ll Need
- Cut the peony bush nearly to the ground in September, leaving only 3 to 4 inches intact. Insert a shovel in the soil 6 to 8 inches from the plant, then dig completely around the plant. Insert the shovel into the soil again and pry the peony plant up from the ground. Conserve as many of the roots as possible.
- Shake the peony clump lightly to remove any loose soil, then pull the clump into smaller sections. You may need to cut the clump into sections with a knife. Each section should have several roots and at least three to five small buds, also called "eyes."
- Plant the peony divisions in a sunny, well-drained area in your garden. Dig a hole large enough to accommodate the entire root system, then plant the clump with the eyes 1 to 2 inches under the soil. Cover the roots and eyes with the removed soil. Allow 2 to 3 feet between each divided plant.
- Saturate the soil around the peonies with water, then spread 1 to 2 inches of mulch over the ground around the plant. Mulch will protect the young peony plant from winter freezes and thaws. Remove the mulch before new growth emerges in early spring.
- Water the peonies again before the first freeze. Water deeply enough to saturate the roots.