How to Transplant Peony Bushes


Peony bushes produce large, fragrant blooms around May. The blooms can last up to six weeks and may be white, rose, coral, deep red, pink or two colors, like pink and white. Peony bushes are long-lived perennials that can be propagated by digging out and separating the root ball. Transplanting a peony may be necessary if the bush has become crowded in its location, or if trees or buildings are now blocking the peony from full sun. Transplant peony bushes in the fall. The new location should receive full sun and be well-drained.

Step 1

Dig around the root ball at least 6 inches from the stems and 12 inches deep. Lift the root ball and shake gently or rinse to remove the soil. Count the number of eyes (the pink nubs that will grow into stems) on the root ball. If the root ball, or clump, has fewer than six eyes, replant the entire clump. If the clump has six or more eyes, the clump can be divided to expand the number of peony bushes.

Step 2

Divide a large clump with a knife so there are three to five eyes with each new clump. Dispose of any decaying roots, which will be soft or hollow.

Step 3

Dig the transplant hole about 18 inches deep and wide to loosen the soil.

Step 4

Hold the transplant in the center of the hole with the eyes 1 to 2 inches below ground level. Backfill the hole with the removed soil. Use your hands or feet to press the soil to force out air pockets.

Step 5

Water thoroughly and continue to water every seven to 10 days through November if there is no rain.

Step 6

Apply 2 to 4 inches of mulch, like pine bark or straw, over the stems in November to protect the peony transplant from freezing and thawing repeatedly. Applying a layer of mulch is only needed during the first year. In the spring, push the mulch away so the stems are exposed to sunlight.

Tips and Warnings

  • Resist the temptation to cut long stems of blooming peonies. Removing stems and leaves can impact the number and size of blooms the following year. To take blooms indoors, cut about 3 inches from the bloom and place in a shallow container, like a decorative tea cup.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Knife
  • Mulch


  • Iowa State University Extension: How to Transplant Peonies
  • Mid-Atlantic Peony Society: Clump Division
Keywords: peony shrub, peonies, transplanting peonies

About this Author

Barbara Raskauskas is a certified e-learning specialist and certified Microsoft Office specialist. She has written web content, technical documents and course material for a decade. Raskauskas now writes how-to's, product reviews and general topics published on several websites, including Demand Studios.