How to Move Peony Plants


Peonies are tough and long-lived plants. You must move them if they are competing with tree roots for nutrients or if nearby plants have grown and are shading the peonies. A worthwhile feature in any garden, herbaceous peonies provide handsome globes of large leaves all spring and summer, punctuated with majestic flowers in late spring. A dramatic accent or a fine choice for massing at the edge of a driveway or path, peonies flower in a variety of colors, and in forms ranging from a simple circle of single petals to the "double" that is an explosion of fluffy petals.

Choose and Prepare the New Site

Step 1

Find a site that has direct sun for six hours or more in the summer. Check the wind as peonies cannot thrive in strong wind.

Step 2

Put on your gardening gloves and use the shovel to dig a hole at the new site about 3 feet wide and 1 foot deep. Spread a piece of burlap on the ground next to the hole and dump the soil on it as you dig it out. Use a wheelbarrow if you do not have burlap.

Step 3

On the burlap or in the wheelbarrow, add one part of composted manure or peat moss for each three parts of soil. Mix together with the shovel or your hands.

Step 4

Tip the amended soil back into the hole and press on it with your hands to pack it in place.

Moving the Peony

Step 1

Take your pruners or clippers and cut off any peony stems just above ground level.

Step 2

Use your shovel to dig up the peony plant, allowing 3 feet in diameter for the roots and being careful not to cut into the roots.

Step 3

Scoop out a hole 1 foot deep and as wide as the root ball in the new site and place the peony in it. Use your hands pile dirt around the roots completely and pack the soil down firmly.

Step 4

Make sure the top buds or eyes of the peony are not buried more than 2 inches deep.

Step 5

Use the hose to water the plant thoroughly.

Mulching the Peony

Step 1

In November or early December apply 4 to 6 inches of mulch so that the soil does not heave in the first winter. By the second winter the peony roots will be established and heaving will not be a problem.

Step 2

Use compost, pine needles or straw as mulch.

Step 3

Remove the pine needles or straw in early spring and gently expose the eyes of the peony.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not plant a peony in the same spot where another peony grew. Peonies resent being moved and flower production will be down in the first two to three years after transplanting.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden gloves
  • Shovel
  • Pruners or clippers
  • Hose
  • Burlap bag or wheelbarrow
  • Composted manure or peat moss
  • Mulch or compost


  • National Gardening Association; Peony: The King of Flowers
  • Iowa State University Extension; Transplanting Peonies
  • Purdue Extension; In the Grow

Who Can Help

  • American Peony Society
Keywords: transplanting peonies, mulching peonies, digging peonies

About this Author

Daffodil Planter's writing appears in the Chicago Sun-Times, and she is the Sacramento Gardening Scene Examiner for A member of the Garden Writers Association, she has a bachelor's degree from Stanford, a law degree from the University of Virginia and studies horticulture at Sierra College.