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Directions for Planting Peonies


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Peonies are herbaceous, shrub-like plants that grow to heights of 4 feet, with a spread of 2 to 3 feet. Peony plants produce enormous flowers that span 6 inches in diameter and bloom in mid-June. The blooms come in a variety of colors and complement the attractive green foliage. Peonies thrive in USDA hardiness zones 4 through 7. If you live within zones 4 through 7 and have a sunny location with well-drained soil, you can plant peonies in your own home landscape.

Difficulty:
Moderately Easy

Instructions

Things You’ll Need
  • Soil testing kit
  • Garden fork
  • Lime or peat moss
  • Fertilizer
  • Compost
  • Soaker hose
    1. Prepare the soil for early fall planting. Peonies prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. Test the soil to determine the pH of your soil. Soil testing kits are available at garden centers and plant nurseries.
    2. Turn over the soil in the planting area using a garden fork. Add lime to the soil if the soil test measures below 6.0 or add peat moss if the pH is above 7.0. Mix in either amendment per label instructions.
    3. Dig holes for the peonies, 18 inches wide and 18 inches deep. Peonies need plenty of room to spread, so space the holes at least 3 feet apart if you are planting more than one peony plant.
    4. Pour a 4-inch layer of compost into the bottom of each hole. Add a 1/2 cup of 10-6-4 fertilizer to each of the holes. Finish filling the hole to the halfway point with a 1:1 ratio of the original soil from the hole and compost.
    5. Remove the peonies from their nursery containers and place one peony in the center of each hole. Backfill the holes with the original soil. Pat the soil gently to remove air pockets.
    6. Water the peonies deeply with a soaker hose. Peonies require at least 1 inch of water per week after planting and during the growing season. Cease watering during the winter when there is snow on the ground. Resume watering after the final winter thaw.
    7. Apply a 2- to 4-inch layer of straw, leaves, pine needles or bark chips around the peony plants. Placing a layer of mulch around the plants will help with drainage, minimize weed growth and keep the roots warm during the winter.

Tips & Warnings

  • Pinch off spent peony blooms before they begin to seed. Doing so will redirect the plants energy and promote new growth.

  • Cut the peonies down to a height of 3 inches after they die back in the fall.

  • Place a new layer of mulch around the plants each winter.

  • Do not over-water the peony plants. Peonies cannot tolerate standing water. Excess amounts of water can cause root rot, a condition that can kill the peony plants. Check the soil before each watering. If the soil feels moist at a depth of 1 inch, refrain from watering and check again in a few days.

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