How to Plant Tree Peonies


The rounded flowers and fragrant smell of the blooms on a peony tree make a stunning addition to the home landscape. Tree peonies are actually a shrub that drops all leaves in the fall. This type of peony can grow 3 to 6 feet in height. Tree peonies can be a hardy plant requiring little care and can tolerate drought conditions. Plant or transplant peonies in the fall to give the plant time to establish strong roots before blooms appear.

Step 1

Schedule planting in the fall before the ground freezes to allow working of the soil.

Step 2

Choose a sunny location that receives 6 to 8 hours of sunlight each day. Tree peonies can tolerate light dappled or partial shade but this situation may limit blooms. Avoid choosing a location that doesn't have well-drained soil since this situation can cause root rot. Allow plenty of room around the tree peony for air circulation as well as future mature plant growth.

Step 3

Use the shovel to make a hole twice the size of the peony root ball. Remove the soil from the hole and break up any dirt clods. Add a shovel full of peat moss to the fill soil removed from the hole. Mix the peat well into the fill soil. Loosening the soil around the planting hole aids the roots in spreading outward.

Step 4

Throw 3 to 4 handfuls of peat into the planting hole. Use the shovel to stir up the soil at the planting site. Working organic manner into the soil around the tree peony improves drainage and provides essential nutrients.

Step 5

Place the tree peony into the planting hole and gauge the appropriate planting depth. The top of the root ball should be placed 3 inches below the surrounding soil surface. Adjust planting depth by adding or removing soil from the hole until placement is correct.

Step 6

Add soil into the hole, firming occasionally to remove air pockets. Continue adding soil up to the garden soil level and press down firmly. Raise the soil level 1 to 2 inches above grade for the first year after initial planting.

Step 7

Add a 3-inch layer of mulch around the planting surface. Mulch improves the moisture retention capabilities of the soil and controls soil temperature during the winter months.

Step 8

Water the tree peony deeply around the base of the plant. Always avoid getting the leaves wet to prevent incidences of mold or fungus.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Peat moss
  • Peony tree


  • Iowa State University Extension
  • Cornell University Cooperative Extension
Keywords: tree peonies, peony trees, planting

About this Author

Currently studying for her Maryland master gardener certification, Sharon Heron has written professionally since 2006. Her writing includes hundreds of articles on a wide range of topics including gardening, environment, golf, parenting, exercise, finances and consumer how-to articles.