Wednesday, April 17, 2013

2013 How to Plant a Tree Peony

Tree Peony Stem and Roots
Tree Peony Stem Root Junction

Tree Peonies should be planted similar to Herbaceous Peonies, except much more care should be taken to make sure the stem and roots are facing the proper directions. This is important for herbaceous peonies as well, but more so with tree peonies.

Dig Hole for Tree Peony

The first step and perhaps the most important step in planting a peony is preparing the soil. I usually dig at least a 3 foot round hole for each root, spading the soil with my shovel to make sure the dirt is nice and loose. After the hole is dug and the soil has been loosened, I add some organic fertilizer and lime (dolomitic limestone) to the soil in the hole and mix it in. The fertilizer is used to add nutrients to the soil and the lime is used to adjust the PH of the soil. In my area, most soils are acidic, and peonies prefer a more neutral to very slightly acidic soil, around a PH of 6.0 to 7.0.

Put Tree Peony Root in Planting Hole

Next take a look at the tree peony's roots and make a small hole in the middle of your 3 foot round hole that will accommodate the size of the peony root. Tree peonies keep above ground woody stems, whereas herbaceous peonies do not. The tree peony will have a definite delineation between the roots and the woody stem. The woody stem may have pink buds on it, or it could have died back, in which case the new shoots and foliage would emerge near the bottom of the stems/top of the roots. So make sure to put the roots into the soil and put the woody stem(s) pointing up towards the sky. In my southern climate the point where the roots meets the stem can be planted even with the soil, so that the roots are below the soil and the stems/buds are above the soil. However if you have a grafted tree peony, it is advisable to plant the stem/root junction a few inches under the soil to, hopefully, allow the tree peony stem to form roots of its own and prevent the herbaceous peony root from creating its own foliage shoots.

Cover Tree Peony Roots with Soil

Once the tree peony root has been covered with soil, I cover the planting hole with a 1-2 inch layer of mulch. You don't want to put too much mulch on peonies in this climate. Otherwise the roots may not get enough chilling hours needed for blooming. They do however need enough mulch to retain moisture (It does get really hot here!) and prevent weed growth. After the peony has been mulched, I water the newly planted peony plant. You can water your root before or after you mulch it. I just like to water mine afterwards because it seems like the soils stays in place a little better with the mulch already on top.

Mulch Tree Peony


  1. It looks like a pretty decent plant. Where did you get that one from?

  2. Steve,

    This one came from Ebay. I wanted to bid on a tree peony auction, but I missed the end of the auction. So I contacted the seller to see if they had any more. They did, and I negotiated to buy this one for $20, shipping included. What a nice plant they sent me! I am definitely happy with it. :-)


  3. It looks like you've been adding quite a few peonies to your collection.

    Do you intend to eventually get them all? I have a decent collection myself, but I've only been buying them whenever I could get a good deal on them.

  4. Steve,

    I think it might be nearly impossible to get them all, but I do love peonies. So I'm not really sure what the upper limit is right now. I would love to collect as many species as I can. I'm curious to see how each of them would perform in my southern climate. I'm also definitely ready to start making some intentional crosses of my own. It seems like it might take a while to see the results, though!