Peonies are herbaceous plants that bloom with large, showy single or double flowers in the spring. Move whole peony plants, without division, only when they are under three years of age. Mature peonies have an extensive system of thick storage roots, so large it is not practical to obtain the whole root system after two or three seasons of vigorous growth. Large plants should be divided before replanting.
- Moderately Easy
Things You’ll Need
- Root knife
- Garden soil
- Dig straight down around your peony by cutting into the ground 8 to 10 inches out from its stalks, circling the plant with a 3 to 4 inch deep trench.
- Angle your spade inward and undercut the peony plant so you are cutting off the outer roots at a minimum of 6 inches.
- Circle the plant with a spade, digging at an angle, until you are able to free as many roots as possible and roll the root ball out of its hole. Do not pry with your spade, as this will damage the feeder roots.
- Dislodge as much dirt as possible from the root ball. Rinse remaining dirt away to aid in division. When taking up a whole plant, division is necessary. Divide the plant from top to bottom, with the aid of a root knife, into a minimum of two sections. Peonies do best if divided into smaller pieces to encourage stronger growth. Commercial growers reduce divisions to three to five "eyes" (large pink buds) small sections. Several smaller sections transplanted into one large hole will produce better results than one large division.
- Dig a hole or holes in the new locations, a minimum of 12 inches wider than the root ball and the same depth as the root ball is tall.
- Plant your peony immediately. Mix the native soil with nutrient rich garden soil and fill in the hole around your peony root ball, taking care to plant the peony to the same depth as in its old location. Make certain that the eyes are no deeper than 2 inches below the soil level.
- Shade the transplanted peony from harsh, direct sun until the plant is established in its new location. Mulch generously with fallen leaves to protect the newly transplanted roots during its first winter in its new location.
Tips & Warnings
You can move peony plants any time in unfrozen ground, but the plants do best when moved in the fall.