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How to Start Peonies


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Peonies bloom for only a short period in late spring or early summer, but the green foliage provides an attractive backdrop to other plants for the rest of the warm months. Peonies survive for decades with only minimal maintenance, making them suitable additions to almost any garden. Peonies do best when left undisturbed for 10 to 15 years. Choose a permanent planting area and the plants can survive for 50 years or more.

Difficulty:
Moderately Easy

Instructions

Things You’ll Need
  • Compost
  • Trowel
  • Fertilizer
  • Straw mulch
    1. Work 2 to 3 inches of compost into a bed that receives full sunlight. Choose a bed away from shrubs and trees, as such plants can shade the peonies or compete with them for water and nutrients.
    2. Dig an 18-inch diameter planting hole to a depth of 18 inches.
    3. Combine half the removed soil from the hole with 1/4 cup 5-10-5 slow-release fertilizer. Place the fertilized soil back into the bottom of the planting hole.
    4. Set the peony root inside the hole with the growing buds facing up. Adjust the level of the soil beneath the root until the root buds sit 2 inches beneath the rim of the hole.
    5. Fill the hole in with the remaining soil. Saturate the soil with water. Add more soil to the hole if it settles after watering.
    6. Water the bed once weekly until the ground begins to freeze. Provide enough water to keep the top 6 inches of soil moist.
    7. Spread a 3-inch layer of straw mulch over the bed after the first freeze to protect the roots during their first winter. Remove the mulch in spring when new growth begins.

Tips & Warnings

  • Plant peonies in September so the roots will have time to establish before the ground begins to freeze.

  • Space multiple plants 4 feet from each other in all directions so they aren’t crowded.

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