How to Transplant Mature Peonies


Peonies are long-lived perennials that form large shrublike plants with glorious fragrant blooms each spring. Peonies, however, do not like to be transplanted, so it's wise to leave them undisturbed. There are some reasons for moving an established plant: more sun, a garden redesign, to divide, or if you're moving. But you must do so carefully, and wait patiently for the peony to recover.

Step 1

Plan to move your peony in fall, ideally September. Cut the plants stems to the ground, then use a spade to dig around and under the plant. Dig several inches away from the crown, trying to keep as much of the root system as you can.

Step 2

Remove the plant from the soil and gently shake it to remove excess soil from the roots.

Step 3

Cut the clump into sections with a sharp knife if you want to divide the plant. Make sure each section has at least three buds and a full root system.

Step 4

Dig holes for the transplant or new sections. Place the peony in the hold so that the buds are 1 to 2 inches below the surface, but no deeper. Backfill the hole with dirt, tamping it down firmly around the plant. Water deeply.

Step 5

Mulch your plants in late fall with a 6-inch layer of straw or pine needles. Remove the straw or pine needles in early spring.

Tips and Warnings

  • Your newly transplanted peony will probably not bloom the first spring. But it will increase its size and number of blooms by the third year. Peony blooms attract ants -- and lots of them. Most gardeners keep their peonies a fair distance from their homes.

Things You'll Need

  • Gardening shears or knife
  • Spade
  • Mulch (pine needles or straw)


  • Iowa State University Extension
Keywords: peonies, transplanting peonies, mature peonies

About this Author

Aileen Clarkson has been an award-winning editor and reporter for more than 20 years, earning three awards from the Society of Professional Journalists. She has worked for several newspapers, including "The Washington Post" and "The Charlotte Observer." Clarkson earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Florida.