Peonies are beautiful perennial flowers that bloom through the spring and provide fresh, green foliage throughout the summer. Once peonies are established, they will flourish with little care, making them a favorite among many beginner gardeners. Although there are two types of peonies, herbaceous and tree peonies, most gardeners have more success with the herbaceous variety. They are easier to establish and tend to bloom quicker.
Find an area that receives at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight a day. In order to produce vibrant blooms, peonies need full sun. They will grow in shade but their flowers will be sparse if they even bloom.
Between Labor Day and the first frost, dig a hole 12 to 14 inches deep. Mix organic compost into the soil: 1 part compost to 3 parts original soil and add 2 tablespoons of superphosphate.
Fill the hole with the new mixture and allow the soil to sit for one to two weeks before planting the peony.
Choose a peony tuber with 3 to 5 red eyes or buds. Obtain your tuber in the fall for best growing success.
Plant the tuber 2 to 3 inches below the surface. The depth at which your plant the tuber is important; a tuber planted too deeply will fail to flower.
Plant tubers 3 to 4 feet apart if growing peonies in a row. Peony roots spread, and peonies grown too close together will cease flowering.
Water the soil thoroughly after planting and mulch 2 to 3 inches deep with organic matter: peat moss, bark, wood chips or straw.
Dividing the Tubers
Watch closely for spring flowering. Herbaceous peonies tend to flower their second year, so do not be alarmed if blooms aren't produced in the first spring. Record the number of blooms from year to year. If there is a sudden decline in the numbers, you may need to divide the tubers. Peonies usually can go a dozen or more years between divisions.
If division is needed, divide peonies in the fall. Dig out the tuber and gently clean away the dirt. An overgrown peony will have two or three joined tubers, each with three to five eyes.
Carefully separate the tubers using a spade, making sure that each tuber has at least three eyes, and replant the tubers 3 to 4 feet apart.