How to Grow Tree Peonies


The deciduous tree peony (Paeonia suffruticosa) grows as a woody shrub that attains a height of 3 to 5 feet with a 4-foot spread. A few cultivars have been known to attain heights of 6 to 10 feet. Flowers often measure 8 inches across in shades of pink, yellow, purple, white and red. Once planted, the tree peony is difficult to transplant due to its deep root system. The tree peony grows well in USDA zones 4 to 8, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden. Plant the tree peony in the fall at least six weeks prior to the first hard freeze.

Step 1

Plant the tree peony in full sunlight for the best blossom production. The plant will grow in partial shade, but it will produce less flowers. In windy regions, choose a location that offers wind protection.

Step 2

Add aged manure and peat moss to the planting location. The tree peony thrives in full, well-draining soil with ample organic matter. The soil should feel crumbly to the touch.

Step 3

Plant the tree peony with the bud graft at least 6 inches below the soil's surface. Dig the hole twice as large as the shrub's root system. Tamp the soil down to remove all air pockets.

Step 4

Apply 3 to 4 inches of mulch around the tree peony. Water the shrub thoroughly once planted.

Step 5

Fertilize the tree peony in the spring following the fall planting, again after the tree peony begins to flower, and one more in the fall. Use a general purpose fertilizer such as a granulated 10-10-10 fertilizer. Follow the directions on the label for application.

Step 6

Remove only the dead or damaged winter wood of the peony tree in the spring. Prune away any sucker growth during the summer months. Remove dead flower-heads after flowering ceases.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Granulated 10-10-10 fertilizer
  • Aged manure
  • Peat moss
  • Mulch (such as peat moss or bark chips)
  • Pruning shears


  • Missouri Botanical Garden: Paeonia suffruticosa
  • Michigan State University: Paeonia suffruticosa
  • Tree Peony Garden: Tree Peony Growth Cycle
  • Sunset Plant Finder: Paeonia suffruticosa

Who Can Help

  • North Carolina State University: Peonies For The Home Landscape
Keywords: tree peony care, tree peony growth, tree peony planting

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.