How to Dig Up Peony Plants to Move


A perennial garden shrub, peonies generally thrive once established in the garden. Sometimes moving a peony becomes necessary due to home additions, landscaping or poor shrub performance in its site. When transplanting a peony, wait until late fall to do so. Choose a transplanting site that offers full sun and well-drained soil to offer your peony the best chance of success.

Step 1

Dig a hole for the peony at the new site. Make this hole twice as large as the plant's estimated root ball, and 12 to 18 inches deep. If you find the hole is too small, modify it once you've dug up the peony.

Step 2

Work 2 to 4 inches of organic matter (such as compost or manure) into the soil to enrich it. Turn the organic matter over with a shovel, mixing it into the soil.

Step 3

Cut down your peony plant's stems near the ground level, using your anvil pruners. Discard the plant material in a compost or garbage bin.

Step 4

Dig up the soil around the peony plant using a small shovel or spade. Work the shovel under the soil to expose the peony plant's root system. Then dig a hole around the roots with your shovel. Try to gather as much of the root system as you can, but if one to two roots will not come free, cut them with your spade.

Step 5

Carry the peony to the new site. Place the peony in the hole, spreading the roots out with your hand. The peony should be sitting the the same level in the ground as it was before.

Step 6

Backfill the hole with soil. Water the site thoroughly so the soil compresses and the ground becomes saturated.

Step 7

Mulch the transplanted peonies in November with 2 to 4 inches of straw or other mulch material. This will protect the peony from freezing in winter months. Remove this mulch in the spring before growth begins.

Step 8

Remove any buds that form in the first year after transplant. Most transplanted peonies do not bloom the first year due to shock. If yours does grow buds, clipping them off promotes plant growth.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Organic material
  • Anvil pruners
  • Spade
  • Straw mulch


  • Iowa State University: How to Transplant Peonies
  • Purdue University: In the Grow
Keywords: transplant peonies, dig up shrub, move peony shrub

About this Author

Based in Northern California, Elton Dunn is a freelance writer and nonprofit consultant with 14 years' experience. Dunn specializes in travel, food, business, gardening, education and the legal fields. His work has appeared in various print and online publications. Dunn holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English.