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How to Transplant Peonies

By Yolanda Vanveen ; Updated September 21, 2017

When transplanting peonies, try to dig around the tree to keep all the roots intact. Dig the new hole a little bigger for roots to grab onto the soil. Move a peony to a new home and make it thrive by putting compost down on the top soil with tips from a gardening specialist in this free video on plant and flower care.


Hi this is Yolanda Vanveen from vanveenbulbs.com. In this segment we are going to learn all about how to transplant peony plants. You can call them peonies or peonies or anything you want but they are still a gorgeous plant that blooms in the late Spring and when you transplant them you have got to realize that peonies like to have a massive set of blooms to bloom. They have got to have huge sets of roots just to put off their bloom so sometimes it takes one, two, even three years to get a bloom so when you are transplanting them sometimes you have got to start all over but don't worry they will come back eventually and I have one here that I want to transplant so that I think it will do better next year. This peony is not doing that great. It think I need to chop this tree back a whole lot and it is getting a little bit too much shade and reaching for the sun. So it has already bloomed with really wimpy blooms this Spring and now its pretty much just sitting there not doing a lot and I'm thinking about it right now so let's move it. So the key is to make sure that when you transplant or dig up your peonies that you leave as many roots together as possible so go out a little ways from the plant and kind of work your way around and kind of just rock it back and forth and try not to cut into anything and just keep digging and keep digging and try not to break the stem off because if there is still greenery I would kind of leave it there and even when I transplant it that greenery is going to die back but I think by moving it with the greenery and leaving the greenery on it it is going to give it more photosynthesis which is going to make the roots establish more in the Fall and in the end I will have a better plant. So when you dig it up be very careful about it and the thing I do is kind of leave it together. I try not to break them apart at all unless you do have a plant that is 50 years old and you have 50 stems coming out of it then you pretty much just kind of break all those roots apart and you'll have lots of different blooms and if you notice they are just little blooms, they are just little sticks so as long as you have got that stick and that stem you are going to have a new peony. Even if you whacked right through that stick and you still have some eyes and you don't have much stick left it will still be fine because really all that matters are the eyes. The eyes are the only thing that are going to create any stems. So when I transplant it back in another area I make sure and pack them together. I like to do two, three, four, even five plants together because then they will be crowded and they'll do better much quicker. So I'm just going to move this over a few feet so it is a little more in the sun. This area is a little sunnier than the others a few feet away and I think they'll do a lot better and it's getting to be Fall so it is a good time to transplant them and I've tried not to take too much of the dirt off of this actually because it is growing well the roots are getting established and it is not a big clay rock looking mass so it looks pretty Earthy and I'm going to leave it. So again when I am digging the hole and I am trying to make the hole a little bit bigger than the roots so that when they do get planted they have something to grab on to as the roots develop. Because if it is just a hard hard compacted soil they have got no where to multiple to. An easy trick too is putting some compost on top in the hole and above the plant when you plant it and it seems to do a lot better that way to. So I'm just sitting them in and the trick with peonies is not too deep. You do not want to go more than one or two inches of dirt above that eye because if you go four or five inches deep they may not bloom at all or they might not bloom for five or six years. So that is another trick I've learned with peonies is never ever plant them too deep or too wet or not enough sun. They do drink a lot of water but in the wintertime you want to put them in a spot where they are going to get a little bit dried out in between. Another trick that I'm learning about peonies is that in the Northwest we don't get a lot of cold Winters any more so the plants right up to the house they don't seem to do as well as the ones that are a little bit farther away from the house because they get a little bit colder in the Winter. So get your peonies as cold as possible because the colder the Winter the better the blooms and if you just follow a few simple rules you'll have peonies for years and years and you can enjoy them too.


About the Author


Yolanda Vanveen is a third-generation flower grower and sustainable gardener who lives in Kalama, Wash. She is the owner of VanveenBulbs.com, selling flower bulbs on the Internet, at garden shows and at farmers markets in the Pacific Northwest for more than 20 years. Vanveen holds a degree in communications and international studies from Linfield College, and is a graduate of the WSU Master Gardener Program. Vanveen represented the United States at the 2006 Indigenous Bulb Society Symposium in South Africa and has been featured on the PBS show Smart Gardening, demonstrating which way is up with flower bulbs.