In traditional Chinese medicine, peonies are sometimes used for their medicinal properties of cooling and treating the blood. For most of us, peonies are simply enjoyed for their beauty, as they produce large, showy, fragrant flowers in colors from white to deep magenta. Peonies can be grown in climates from the deep South to frigid Northern zones. While you can purchase peony roots, or tubers, most gardeners purchase a peony bush that is already in a container. Since peonies like to grow deep in soil, it is best to get them in the ground as soon as temperatures begin to cool in the fall, or the peony has gone dormant.
Plant your peonies in the fall, when the weather is cooler and the peony is entering a dormant phase. If you plant in the spring, you may delay their bloom another season.
Select a site for your peony bush that receives full sun if you live in a Northern climate, or full sun with afternoon shade if you live in a warm, Southern climate. Soil should also drain quickly and not allow water to stand.
Dig a hole for your peony that is at least twice as wide and twice as deep as the container it is in. Big Dipper Farm in Washington recommends going to a depth of 2 feet. Loosen the ground on the sides and bottom of the hole by stabbing it with a pitchfork or spade.
Place a 2-inch layer of compost or manure in the hole, then fill the hole three-quarters full with soil. Mix the soil and compost together well.
Cut the bottom foliage off the peony plant, going from the soil line to 4 inches up the stalk.
Set the container with the peony bush in it on its side and gently tap around the container. Pull the root ball out of the container and set it down into the hole. The top of the root ball should be even with the top of the ground. If it falls below that line, then add soil to the hole to make it line up evenly.
Water the peony bush with 3 inches of water. Allow the water to drain.
Fill the rest of the hole in with soil, and be sure to cover the roots well. Tap the soil down gently to fill in any spaces. Moisten the top of the soil with a light watering.