How to Divide Peonies

Peonies bloom profusely in midsummer image by ren: morguefile


Peonies produce large showy blooms in early summer and create a gorgeous backdrop for any perennial bed. Once blooms fade, the foliage forms a lush green background and enhances the color of later blooming flowers. As a specimen plant, peony produces rich hues and fragrant blooms. Available in shades of pink, red and white, this plant is reminiscent of early American homesteads and may even survive for several generations with the proper care.

Step 1

Divide peonies in early fall. Cut the foliage back to 6 inches. If you are dividing more than one plant, tag the stalk with the color and cultivar. Dig around the base of the plant with a garden spade or fork, using care not to damage the roots.

Step 2

Lift the roots from the soil and shake gently to remove loose soil. Divide the root ball into sections by pulling or cutting with a sharp knife. Each section should have three to five eyes and some smaller roots. Eyes look like tiny pink or white buds that will grow into flower stalks in the spring.

Step 3

Plant in prepared soil in a sunny location as soon as possible. Space new plants 24 to 36 inches apart. Position the eyes on the roots 1 to 2 inches beneath the soil level. Cover with soil and firm down with your hands to remove air pockets. Peonies planted too deeply will grow, but may not bloom.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden fork or spade
  • Sharp knife


  • University of Illinois Extension
  • Iowa State University Extension

Who Can Help

  • Peony Care Tips
Keywords: divide peonies, peony care, plant peonies

About this Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with more than four years' experience in online writing. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in teaching 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.

Photo by: ren: morguefile