Help Needed with Peony Transplanting

mikeyjoe(Zone 6b, Southern Indiana)March 4, 2006


I have several Peonies that I want to transplant. They are in my front yard and I want to move them to my back yard. Last year I asked someone who grows them about the process and they told me to wait until spring to do it. Yesterday I noticed that they are starting to peek out of the soil, maybe a quarter of an inch.

While they are not my favorite plant I think they are attractive. I definetly want to do this the safest way possible as they were planted by my Father years ago (they were his favorite).

I just thought of one other question. Do Peonies need to be divided like some other plants?

I know absolutely nothing about Peonies so any help will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,


Michael Smith

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heyruthie(z7 NOVA)

I also have the same question--RE: someone told me to wait until spring, and now I see that most sites say it's best to do it in the FALL. Please, some of you Peony experts, help us newbies here!

P.S. What I want to know most is, should I divide NOW, or wait until after blooming? (It's already quite hot here, by the time they bloom--mid summer.)

    Bookmark   March 4, 2006 at 8:34AM
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Divide in the fall. Early September to early November. The person that told you to wait to spring may grow them but know next to nothing about them. If you move them that is the time to divide. Please go to and look at the FAQ's and or read the previous messages of this list.

That said if you were moving or doing a rescue of plants peonies can be dug anytime but the optimum time is early fall.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2006 at 7:13PM
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Patrick888(z8 SeaTac WA)

I'd definitely suggest early fall if you can wait. That said, I was given 22 rescued peonies 2 years ago, bare root & some in bloom. They looked like heck the rest of the year, but not one of them died. I did keep them well-watered that first year.


    Bookmark   March 23, 2006 at 3:53PM
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colorado_av_guy(z4 CO)

I have a question on moving a divided peonie to another state.

In the early 1950's, my mother planted a peonie as a grave marker for her mother's grave in Indiana. The peonie has survived to this date in time. I have since installed a headstone on my grandmother's grave, but would like to divide the peonie, replant it at the grave sight and take a division specimen back with me to Colorado to have at my home. I am concerned that the peonie has been established for so long, it may not take lightly to my dividing it. Colorado climate is much different than Indiana, and I wonder how the division will respond as well. I thought about the seeds, but from what I have read, even if the seed was to germinate, it would most likely not be "true" and it might be 5-7 years before I had a blooming plant.


    Bookmark   March 24, 2006 at 1:44AM
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Get a knife or sharp bladed trowel. At the plant select a blooming stem on the outside of the plant. At the base of that stem start scraping away the soil with the knife until you can located a root section that has knobby things near your stem(next years eyes). Try to separate that root from the mother plant. You may have to cut or break the root section off from the mother plant. Try to dig down far enough to have a root section 8-10 inches long if possible. At this point you may either cut or you may have to break the root. Take a break and allow the part in the soil to callus over to prevent rot. Replace the dirt and if you brought some give the plant a light fertilization. Cut off the stem and place in a paper bag for the trip home. If you are driving you can leave the stem on but I would pack with slightly damp packing. Plant immediately either in the ground or a large pot for potting later. The plant may or may not send up foliage this year but you should be able to see enlarging buds this fall.

By using a blooming stem you are assured of having the same plant and not a seedling that has sprouted over the years. By allowing the drying of the mother plant root you prevent any rot and will allow you or other members of your family to gather another start later. If several members of the family want sections you could use a spade and cut a pie out of the mother plant.

I lost my families peonies when the cemetary decided that plants got in the way of mowing and killed most of the plantings before someone noticed. I am still looking for a dark red peony with white edges on the petals. Good luck to you. May sound silly but talk to your grandmother while you are digging about where you are going to plant her peony. Your section may surprise you with its vigor.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2006 at 11:02PM
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Hey Maifleur - thanks for the info. How long does it take for the root to dry before it should be recovered?

Here's a red peony with white tips. You can barely see the white. There's a pic on the site.

INSTITEUR DORIAT (F)(M)(Doriat) A dark wine red Imperial with slender petaloids whose tips have just a fine touch of white; outer surface of the petals may show some white streaking; lovely fragrance; tall, may need support,

    Bookmark   April 21, 2006 at 8:13PM
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Please allow at least an hour or maybe over night. What you want is the cut surfaces to be dry to the touch no sap seeping from the cut areas. Sometimes on larger roots the area under the skin will have fibers that will leak longer than the rest of the cut surface. This is the area you really want to check on.

Institeur Doriat is similar to what I am looking for but not quite it. Someone suggested that I look at old French cataloges to find what I am looking for as they would have been most popular about the time the family ones were planted. Alas my French is just the see word look at dictionary type but because I read cookbooks I know the food terms some carry over to the plant section.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2006 at 8:30PM
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WOW! I'm new to this site and can't get off it! Love it!
I do have a question though. I was wanting to transplant one that has come up volunteer right next to the border. It's a small one compared to my other ones, but I want to put it in a pot. Do you think peonies grow well in a large pot? And will it hurt it to transplant it now? It doesn't have much room next to the cross tye.
Thank you for any help!

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 4:24PM
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Hi mondonga. I have put several peonies in pots, seems to work just fine. Some of the peony forum members, stevelau1911 in particular, have recommended it in several instances. I asked this same thing of Itoh peonies in a thread (Small Itohs in Pots?) where stevelau1911 responded and linked a blog he did to it, you might want to look at that, pretty impressive.
Peonies are pretty tough plants, just make sure you get it in a pot large enough so it won't dry out quickly and use well draining soil and you should be fine.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 10:12AM
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With regard to the older peony. Yes you can definitely transplant it . Cut it up into groups with 3 to 5 eyes. Check with your local garden shops to see how deeply you should bury it in your area. Before you put you newly divided root into the ground consider amending your soil. I highly recommend putting bone meal in your hole. Cover the bone meal with dirt and then add your root.
I had not used bone meal before last year. I am really shocked at the difference it has made to the plants I used it on. As to fall or spring transplant, I would choose fall if I had the choice. The spring transplants I have made haven't done all that well. Good luck

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 11:26AM
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Not knowing much about peonies other than they were moms favorites I transplanted some from her yard to mine in the fall, just seemed right.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 10:29AM
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Peonies are indeed tough. I would encourage anyone to transplant a special one. I wanted a start from my great grandfather's grave site that had a beautiful, fragrant pink one planted in 1900. The year I went, 2004, someone had just decided to spray to kill all flowers there. Short dry stems. Looked dead. I dug up as much of the root ball as I could and replanted it all. Little shoots came up the next year, but it took several years for it to really recover and bloom. Now I have two very large bushes and have divided to share with others several times. Never trim the leaves until they die and try to transplant in the fall if possible.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 11:56AM
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