Transplanting Peonies

powermuffinApril 8, 2013

Hi all. My very, very old clumps of peonies are blooming less and less, especially one. All three are large clumps and all get full sun. I would like to dig up, divide and transplant the non-blooming one to see if it will bloom again. The buds are just coming up. Is it too late; should I wait until fall? Also, will it be apparent when I dig it up how to divide it? I read that they should be planted 2" deep. Any advice will be appreciated.
Diane in Longmont

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david52 Zone 6

I've dug and divided peonies successfully a few times, but I've always done it in the fall. And thats because they always tell you to do it in the fall :-).

What I did find out is that these things are really tough plants. I thought for sure that the way I was digging them up - breaking the tubers, mangling the roots, snapping the stems, etc. that I'd murdered the things. But no, in the spring, dozens of new plants made it just fine.

I can't think of a reason why you couldn't transplant them now, particularly if they're just now showing a bit of growth.

You might ask over on the Peony forum, linked below.

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 12:56PM
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Thanks David!

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 1:13PM
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Out of necessity (putting in a waterfall and garden paths) I've had to divide and move peonies several times in spring and even in summer. There are sometimes casualties but for the most part they are forgiving plants! Peony clumps typically seem to die out from the middle. If that's what's happening to you, I'd suggest you dig up the entire clump. Start out at least a foot from where you see eyes or stems starting up and expect to have to dig fairly deep--depending on the variety they can get roots 18-24" deep. Don't worry if some roots break.
Once it's out, brush away as much of the dirt from the clump as possible but be careful of the eyes. Some varieties can be pried apart with bare hands, roots just seem to tangle. Some have to be cut, I typically just use my shovel. If the middle part doesn't have eyes divide it anyway--I've actually had some broken roots with no eyes that I left in place start new plants.
If you break up your divisions so there are 3-5 eyes attached to clumps of root those will probably bloom next spring. If you're really lucky and you have late bloomers they might bloom this year. The peonies I divided last week for this spring's swap are still growing like they were never disturbed! As for how deep, I've planted all of mine so the eyes are barely covered. I've never had a problem with soil heaving any roots out, if your garden does you might want to go a bit deeper but I wouldn't put the eyes any more than an inch deep. My beds are heavily mulched, one of the first things I do every spring is move the mulch away from the peonies.
I haunt the peony forum, too. I've learned quite a bit from it--definitely a good resource like David said!

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 11:32PM
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Good info Liz. I appreciate it. I will do as suggested.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 4:46PM
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mayberrygardener(z5a, Broomfield, CO)

I don't have a TON of experience with peonies, but in a friend's garden, we noticed that after several years they did the opposite of heaving and actually were deeper than is recommended for planting--and not because anything had been tossed on top, but because they merely settled in deeper over the years.One year she dug them up and planted them shallower (don't know if it was spring or summer, or if she split or not), and they came back beautiful as ever.
She is the reason I "jones" for peonies--hers were so lovely!

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 7:00PM
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So Diane, did you move/divide your peonies? Is everything growing? Hope the process went well! Blooming peonies are one of my favorite things about spring.....

    Bookmark   May 15, 2013 at 11:04PM
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