Peony Planting & Care

Peony Root with Eyes

Time of Year to Plant:

Fall is the ideal time of year to plant your peony – after the bloom season and before soil freezes.  We recommend transferring your potted peony or tuber in October – December.

Ideal Sunlight:

Herbaceous & Itohs:  Full sun is ideal - with their larger leaves dappled sun also works.  Sun means 6 hours per day, so some shade is tolerated.

Tree Peonies:  Tolerant of a wide range of sun conditions from full to dappled shade.

Soil Conditions:

pH: All peonies prefer neutral to slightly alkaline soil.

Water: Peonies prefer spots with good drainage and environments that won’t get waterlogged. New plants need to be watered every week or two when it’s dry. Be sure that the peony dries out fully between watering.

*A Note on Soil Conditions:

Most soils tend toward acidity over time with traditional gardening techniques. 


Your peony will benefit from a proper hole being dug, and if planted prop.rly, your peony plant will last generations. 

Herbaceous & ITOHS: Dig a 1 foot wide x 1 foot deep hole and amend soil (details below), to create a friable loam. 

Tree Peonies: Need extra width for growth – at least 2 feet wide x less than or equal to 1 foot deep. 

An herbaceous peony (tubers seen in the top illustration) should be planted 2.5 to 3 feet apart on center. Tubers should be planted vertically. An ITOH’s tubers (seen in the illustration on the bottom) should be planted at a horizontal arrangement.  

Plant so that 0.5 to 1.5 inches of soil cover the top of the root. Planted too deeply flowers will not develop, too shallowly and the tops of the eyes will freeze and die back in the winter.

Add Friable Loam (see below) and press on the soil to remove air pockets around the root and lift the root as necessary so it does not settle more than 1.5 inches beneath the ground. Water in well. Avoid mulching your herbaceous & intersectional peonies as this will make the top of the root too deep and they will not flower.

Creating a Friable Loam/Amending the Soil/Continued Care:

Friable Loam is a soft, dark, rich, loose soil that is compost of native soil mixed with amendments, such as Black Owl Biochar (compost can be horse, chicken, mushroom).  Our recipe is native soil, Biochar Supreme’s Black Owl Biochar (about 1-2 cups for 2 gallon size hole) and if soil is heavy clay the addition of peat or compost, about 1/3 of the hole size.  The biochar is best pre-mixed with the soil, compost and natural fertilizer you intend to use.  On our peony farm, we use organic fish fertilizer which we directly apply to biochar and mix with soil and place at the bottom of the hole.  

Then we water the amended soil partially filled, to watch for “sinkage of the filling.” We do not want the peonies eyes below ground more than 2 inches and if the soil is going to sink, we want it to do it before we lay the tuber on top of it. The hold is established once it’s properly prepped with fertilizers, and the amendments are below the tuber.

*New peonies are susceptible to frost heaving as they do not have feeder roots yet – if this happens, put them back into original location.