There is nothing quite like the broad, fragrant, and beautiful blooms on a peony bush. The double and single flowers of these herbaceous perennial shrubs are showstoppers both in the garden and when cut and displayed in vases indoors. Peonies can take up a lot of space in the garden, especially when they have had several years to establish themselves.
You may want to spread their beauty around your yard, move the plant to another location with more sunlight, or divide the plant and share it with friends and family. No matter what your motivation is for transplanting, it is essential to know how and when to transplant peonies so that your relocation is successful.
When To Transplant Peonies
Timing is everything when it comes to growing a beautiful flower garden and that is true for transplanting peonies also. These showy bloomers put on quite a display in late spring and early summer, with each bloom only lasting a mere 7-10 days. The plant continues to thrive until late summer or early fall when it falls into a period of dormancy.
While fall is the perfect time to plant many flower bulbs, September is usually the prime time to transplant peonies. By this time in the year, a peony’s tubers have taken the nutrients from their foliage and stocked up its supply of nutrition to prepare for next year’s growth. Additionally, this September timeframe allows the roots to have time to establish themselves in their new location before any hard frosts set in.
It is possible to transplant peonies at other times, like in the spring or summer, but the odds of a successful transplant are not as strong. If a transplant is successful, you may have to wait a couple of years before you start seeing blooms.
Soil Requirements For Transplanting Peonies
Roots will need time to adjust and get established in their new location, so it is vital to confirm the soil is optimal. Peonies thrive in a fertile, well-draining soil that ranges from 6-7 on the pH scale. It is critical to keep the planting areas watered, and safeguarding that soil drains well is paramount. Dry soil is a principal reason for transplant failures, while tubers planted in soggy conditions have a strong likelihood of succumbing to rot.
How To Transplant Peonies
- Trim back the plant and use a shovel to carefully dig up the entire shrub, getting as much of the full root ball as possible. Be sure to dig down several inches in a circle around the plant, leaving 8 to 10 inches of soil space from the peony stems. You want to make sure that you dig about 6 inches below the tubers, so you do not damage the root system.
- Depending upon the peony plant’s size, assess how many sections you will be splitting the plant into. Use a clean, sharp knife to cut right through the root ball, segmenting as desired. Be sure to leave between 3 buds per section, however. Shake off excess soil and remove dead growth and any thread-like roots.
- Replant tubers with their growth buds no more than two inches beneath the soil surface. Any deeper and your peony may not bloom. Buds should be facing upward upon planting. Backfill and firm the soil. Add 1-2 inches of organic mulch to the area to protect the transplant from frost heaves when winter cold sets in.
- Be prepared that the disrupted peony plant may not produce blooms for the first year after transplant. If the transplant of peonies was done in September, you have the best chance at success. Treat peony plants to some bone meal or other organic fertilizer, and you will be greeted with much-anticipated blooms that will be worth the wait.