How to Plant a Bare Root Peony


Peonies come in nearly every color but blue. Long lived, low maintenance and cold hardy, peonies require very little care once planted and will reliably bloom year after year. Peonies are usually planted from bare-root stock. The tuberous roots are dug up and separated, and then the healthiest ones are sold at garden centers and nurseries. Plant peonies in the fall, six to eight weeks before the first expected frost in your areas. Prepare beds in summer so you are ready to plant in the fall.

Step 1

Prepare a well-drained garden bed in full sun. Loosen the top 10 inches of soil and work in a 3-inch layer of fresh compost to aid drainage and soil nutrition.

Step 2

Add ¼ cup of balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer per plant to the soil. Avoid applying the fertilizer where the roots will be set; instead apply it in the soil around each planting area.

Step 3

Inspect the peony roots before planting. Choose roots with three to five large eyes each, growing nubs similar to the eyes on a potato. Fewer eyes produce weak plants, and too many eyes inhibit blooming.

Step 4

Dig a shallow hole and plant each root with eyes facing up and the top of the root 1 1/2 inches beneath the soil surface. Space roots 24 inches apart.

Step 5

Water the peony bed so it is moist but not soaking wet. Mulch with a layer of straw 1 to 2 inches thick to preserve soil moisture and temperature.

Tips and Warnings

  • Remove mulches once the garden bed thaws in spring, or your plants will be subject to disease. Peonies are prone to fungal diseases if not properly prepared for winter. Cut each plant down to the crown and dispose of all plant material in the fall.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost
  • Fertilizer
  • Spade
  • Mulch
  • Peony plant


  • Purdue Extension Office
Keywords: bare root peonies, growing peony, peony care

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.