How to Plant Japanese Tree Peonies


The Japanese tree peony (Paeonia suffruticosa), a deciduous shrub, grows well in zones 4 to 8. It grows to a height of 5 feet with a 4-foot spread. Blossoms appear from April to May in shades of yellow, purple, pink, white and red. The shrub loses its leaves each fall but retains its stems, which do not die back to the ground as other peonies do. Choose a planting location where the tree peony can remain, because it does not tolerate transplanting well. The tree peony is exceptionally long-living and will easily reach over 100 years in age. It takes several years to establish before abundant flowers appear.

Step 1

Select a planting area that offers full sunlight or partial shade. Choose a location that offers shelter from strong winds.

Step 2

Mix organic matter such as peat moss and aged manure into the soil prior to planting. The soil should feel crumbly to the touch.

Step 3

Dig a hole that is twice as large as the Japanese peony tree's root system. The tree is sold either in a container or as a bare root plant. If sold as a bare root plant, place it in a bucket of water for two hours prior to planting. Gently place the peony plant into the hole. Locate the graft union 3 to 6 inches below the soil's surface. If you have a bare root plant, spread the root system out prior to adding soil. Tamp the soil down around the roots to remove air pockets.

Step 4

Water the tree peony thoroughly once it has been planted. The shrub enjoys moist soil conditions that are well draining.

Step 5

Apply 2 to 3 inches of mulch around the base of the tree peony. Use peat moss or bark chips. The mulch will help shade the shrubs roots in the summer time, help the soil retain moisture and help limit weed growth.

Step 6

Remove spent flowers to encourage new flower production. Simply clip the spent flowers and discard. Peonies make ideal cut flowers for arrangements.

Step 7

Work 1 to 2 cups of bone meal around the base of the tree peony each spring. This offers valuable nutrients to the plant.

Things You'll Need

  • Peat moss
  • Aged manure
  • Bark chips
  • Bone meal
  • Shovel
  • Pruning shears


  • Missouri Botanical Garden: Paeonia suffruticosa
  • Michigan State University: Paeonia suffruticosa
  • Oregon State University: Paeonia suffruticosa

Who Can Help

  • Peony Flowers: Japanese Tree Peony
Keywords: Japanese tree peony, planting tree peony, tree peony care

About this Author

Kimberly Sharpe is a freelance writer with a diverse background. She has worked as a Web writer for the past four years. She writes extensively for Associated Content where she is both a featured home improvement contributor (with special emphasis on gardening) and a parenting contributor. She also writes for Helium. She has worked professionally in the animal care and gardening fields.