How to Plant a Herbaceous Peony


Plant large blossoming herbaceous peonies in borders, beds or large container to bring color to your perennial garden. Flowering in early summer, the lush green foliage continues to add an attractive background to your borders whether alone or combined with later-blooming annual flowers. Peonies are available in every color but blue and come in both single and double blooms. Combine early-, mid- and late-season varieties in your beds to extend the blooming period to up to six weeks. Plant peonies in fall eight weeks before the first predicted frost in your area.

Step 1

Prepare a well-draining garden in a bed in full to partial sunlight. Work in a 3-inch layer of fresh compost to improve soil drainage and nutrition before planting.

Step 2

Inspect the peony tubers before planting. Discard any that have soft spots. Find the side of the tuber with eyes, or darker spots, and plant those with three to five eyes on them.

Step 3

Dig planting holes. Plant each peony with the eyes facing up and the top of the tuber two inches beneath the soil surface. Space plants three feet apart.

Step 4

Fill the planting hole half way and water the peonies. Finish filling the planting holes then water a second time.

Step 5

Cover peonies with a 4-inch layer of organic mulch if your winter temperatures go below negative-20 degrees F. Leave uncovered otherwise.

Step 6

Fertilize with a balanced general fertilizer in early spring when the peony first begins showing new growth. Substitute bone meal for fertilizer if desired.

Step 7

Water when the ground is not frozen and feels dry to the touch, primarily in extended dry periods.

Tips and Warnings

  • Remove all vegetative material and replace mulch each year to prevent bacteria diseases from killing all your peony plants. Do not compost the old mulch and plants, as this may spread the disease.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost
  • Spade
  • Peony tubers
  • Mulch
  • Fertilizer


  • Washington State University Extension
  • Ohio State University
Keywords: herbacious peonies, growing peony flowers, planting peony tubers

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.