Peonies will survive undisturbed for several decades after planting, so preparation of the site at planting time is very important. Peonies are propagated from tuberous root sections. A mature peony plant may have a crown that is 3 feet in diameter, so spacing is crucial. Peonies can be used as a low hedge or as specimen plants. Once they are established, they require little care to produce blooms.
Plant peonies in early fall, so they have time to develop feeder root systems before winter.
Select a sunny site that has good drainage. Soil that is a little on the heavy side, but well-drained and fertile, is good for peonies. Soil that is too sandy will not hold nutrients and may shift and erode.
Till the planting area at least 18 inches deep. Work in some compost, and sprinkle a very light application of organic fertilizer with a 5-10-5 ratio.
Dig a hole in the prepared soil about 12 inches deep. Place the peony in the hole with the roots down and the eyes on top. Eyes are the small bud-like protrusions growing on the roots; they may be pink or white. The eyes should be no more than 2 inches below the soil surface after you cover the root.
Cover the peony root with 1 to 2 inches of prepared soil from the planting hole. Firm the soil around the root as you fill the hole, making sure that no air pockets are left.
Water well, and cover the peony with 2 to 3 inches of organic mulch for winter protection.