Peony Planting and Care

Planting Instructions

Ideal Sunlight:

Herbaceous & ITHOs: Full sun is ideal - with less sun it will take longer to mature & have fewer blooms.

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. Additionally, living in the Northwest, it is good to correct for soil that collects sitting water.

We have had tremendous success with biochar – an organically-derived, environmentally-friendly soil amendment (derived from virgin wood slash, charred in the absence of oxygen, making it a carbon-negative product – removing CO2 and other GHGs from the environment). It is stable, mineral-rich, porous, makes soil less-acidic, also makes a better habitat for beneficial microorganisms, reduces water need by up to 80 percent, reduces need for fertilizer, and both adsorbs and absorbs water, making It bio-available to plants’ roots when they need it.

With peonies, the biochar produced more blossoms, larger & stronger roots, more eyes & and overall healthier plants!

We loved the results of biochar so much that we used it on all of our peony fields and started manufacturing biochar as a second business.  Our brand is Biochar Supreme with a product Black Owl Biochar for Gardens & Agriculture.

Our product is the only one in Washington State to be organically certified as a fertilizer. It is also OMRI & USDA certified.

Our brand is available at Farmer’s Markets, organic farms & nurseries, & online at For inquiries about purchases please email us at or call 260-650-6306.  We can accommodate all order sizes!

You can also purchase Organic Black Owl Biochar for as little as $14.99 on the Gift Cards & Accessories Page!

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.


Your peony will benefit from a proper hole being dug, and if planted properly, 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 space for growth – at least 2 feet deep x 1 foot wide. 

You cannot error on the side of digging too big of hole, only on the side of too little. 

An herbaceous peony (tubers seen in the top illustration) should be planted 2.5 to 3 feet apart on center.   It’s 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 Biochar Supreme’s 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.