Peonies have remained popular among gardeners for many years and with good reason: They are hardy between USDA plant hardiness zones 2 through 8, surviving even harsh winters; and they produce lovely, often fragrant, blooms; and they require very little care.
Gardeners generally plant peonies in the fall, although they may be planted in the spring as well. They require well-drained soil, to which organic material—such as manure or compost—has been added. Inspect the tuber for red buds, or eyes. Plant the tuber so the eyes are one to two inches beneath the soil, the University of Vermont Extension advises. Planting peonies too deeply will result in lush foliage, but few blossoms.
Peonies need evenly moist soil and full sun to produce good blooms, although they tolerate dry soil and partial shade. They benefit from a spring application of 10-10-10 synthetic or 5-5-5 organic fertilizer, applied at the rate of 3 lbs. per 100 square feet of bed.
Old plants that fail to produce many flowers benefit from division. The entire clump is dug up and washed to reveal the eyes. The clump may be divided into several pieces with a knife or sharp spade, so that each clump has three to five eyes. Replant them immediately.