How to Transplant White Peonies
Peonies are long-lived perennials. Garden peonies die back every fall, while tree peonies are shrubs with woody stems. The care of peonies depends more on the type of peony (garden or tree) and variety, which varies by cold hardiness, sun and water requirements and bloom time, than color. Most peonies are treated the same regardless of color.
Peonies may need to be transplanted because they are in a poor location where they are not thriving or because of a garden rearrangement or landscape changes. Peonies may also need to be moved because you plan to divide them, whether because they need it, as they sometimes do after many years, or because you want to start new plants.
- Moderately Easy
Things You’ll Need
- Prepare to transplant peonies of any color, including white, in September.
- Moisten the soil around the peony to be transplanted for several days before you plan to transplant it.
- Dig a hole and prepare the soil in the spot where the peony will be transplanted. This should be in a full-sun (six to eight hours of direct sunlight per day), well-drained area. If the soil is poorly drained, work in compost or organic material. The destination hole should be large enough to comfortably accommodate the roots.
- Cut off the peony stems near ground level with a sharp knife.
- Dig a large hole around and under the peony to a depth of 8 inches, retaining as many of the roots as you can.
- Lift out the crown, or point where the stalks all converge at ground level. If you plan to divide the peony in addition to transplanting it, this is the time to do it.
- Wash the soil from the roots if you plan to divide it. Divide the peony by cutting it into several pieces with a sharp knife or spade. Make sure each piece has three to five buds (places where the stalks will grow the next year) and some roots.
- If you aren’t going to divide the plants, try to keep as much soil intact as you can, reducing the root breakage.
- Plant the peonies, whether you divide them or not, with the crown 1 to 2 inches below the soil surface. Planting too deeply can result in poor growth and no blooms.
- Fill in around the roots with loose soil, making sure to fill in any air pockets. Water the new planting generously and fill in any holes that appear.
- Apply 2 to 6 inches of organic mulch the first season to prevent winter heaving, which is the repeated freezing and thawing of the ground that can push plants out of the ground.
Tips & Warnings
Transplanted peonies may not bloom well the first spring, but they should be blooming profusely by the third or fourth spring. If they aren’t blooming it may be because they are planted too deeply. Try replanting them more shallowly, or relocating them if they aren’t blooming after three or four years.