How to Propagate Japanese Peonies


Japanese peonies, like most peonies, reward the gardener with an abundance of large, showy summer blossoms and require very little care and maintenance in exchange. Japanese peonies are distinguishable from their Chinese cousins by the presence of a central yellow pompon of narrow petals. This pompon is surrounded by a single or double row of broad cup-shaped petals. Colors of the outer petal range from pure whites, to solid or variegated pinks and violets, to bright crimson reds. The simplest way to propagate Japanese peonies is by division.

Moderately Easy


Things You’ll Need
  • Garden spade
  • Hose
  • Knife
  • Rubbing alcohol
    • Divide your Japanese peony plant in September while there is still plenty of time for the divided tubers to establish themselves in their new location. While dividing peonies is generally not necessary for the health of the plant, it is an easy and economical way to increase the number of locations of Japanese peonies in your garden. Use a clean, sharp garden spade to dig up all or a portion of the plant. If taking only a portion, make sure that you are exhuming a large enough section to be assured of harvesting one or more clumps of tubers with at least three eyes or growth buds. If you have left a portion of your peony plant in the ground, back fill and tamp the hole you have left before dividing the rest of the plant.
    • Wash the peony clump under a hose if necessary to examine the tubers. Before making the first cut, estimate how many divisions you will be able to make, with each division having the required number of eyes.
    • Sterilize your knife by wiping it with alcohol, then cut away any soft or unhealthy looking tubers on the outer portions of the clump. Next, cut the remaining clump into two or more sections for re-planting. Continue to remove and discard any tubers that do not look firm and vigorous.
    • Prepare planting holes for your new clumps of Japanese peony tubers, being careful to space them at least 4 feet apart to allow for spreading. If necessary, amend the soil you remove with an equal amount of compost or peat to provide good drainage and nutrition for the new plant. Plant the tubers with the growth buds pointing upward. Plant the tubers at a depth that will require no more than 2 inches of soil above the tops of the tubers.
    • Water your Japanese peony beds upon planting and regularly throughout the rest of the growing season, continuing until the first frost.

Tips & Warnings

  • It is also possible to divide Japanese peonies in the spring although the success rate may be lower. If you divide peonies in the spring, water the new plants weekly throughout the entire first growing season.

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