One difference between a garden peony shrub and a peony tree lies with the stems. In the fall, the peony shrub will die to the ground and return with all new growth in the spring. The peony tree will die back in the fall, too, but woody stems remain from which new growth will sprout in the spring. The large blooms of the peony tree may be black, white, yellow or shades of red from light pink to deep scarlet. You can plant a peony tree in USDA zones 4 through 8, where they will get the cold winter temperatures needed to bloom the following growing season.
Choose a sunny, well-drained location to plant tree peony tubers. A peony tree can also tolerate a minimal shade location, like high dappled sun through a taller, nearby tree. The tree peony can reach a height of 7 feet and a spread of up to 5 feet, so choose a location that can accommodate the tree's expected growth.
Plant peony tubers in the fall. Dig the hole 18 inches deep and wide. Amend part of the removed soil with about 25 percent organic matter, like leaf mold or compost. Refill the hole partially with the amended soil up to about 5 inches from ground level.
Place the peony tuber into the center of hole. The graft, where the stem meets the roots, should be facing up. Cover the tuber with regular soil. Once planted, it can take three years of growth before the tree peony will bloom.
Apply 2 to 3 inches of mulch, keeping the mulch away from the base of the plant.
Water thoroughly after planting. Plan to water deeply in early spring and then water every 7 to 10 days, summer into fall, when there is no rainfall.