PLANT YOUR PEONIES in a sunny, or mostly sunny location. In the Pacific Northwest, we recommend at least six hours of direct sun. Plants are more tolerant of shade in hotter, drier climates. Too much shade makes plants leggy and can reduce flowering. Space peonies two to four feet apart in a well-drained location where water does not pool to prevent roots from rotting. Peonies prefer heavier soil rich in trace elements. They grow well in USDA zones 2-8. Climates warmer than zone 8 may not provide adequate cool temperatures to send peonies into dormancy. This will result in poor growth and inability to bloom. Please consult the National Gardening Association website for more information on your zone. We do not ship to Hawaii.
BARE ROOT PEONIES should be planted in early September to late November when the ground is not frozen or extremely dry. Soak peony roots in water for one to two hours if they were allowed to dry out. Lime is beneficial if soil is acidic. Loosen soil and apply generous amounts of compost when planting. Do not use manure around peonies because it can carry spores of botrytis, which can cause disease in peonies. Mix a handful of a balanced fertilizer in the bottom of the hole as well as any peat moss the root was packaged with. Cover fertilizer with a thin layer of soil so it does not come in direct contact with the root. Remove any tags or rubber bands from the root. Plant peonies with single root projections at a slight angle and all roots with the eyes facing upward. In the Pacific Northwest, there should be approximately one inch of soil above the eyes or buds, no more. Planting peonies too deep is the most common cause for bloom failure. In warmer climates, they should be planted at a shallower depth. Plants may be mulched with hay or straw the first year to prevent heaving (lifting out of the ground with freezing and thawing) but the mulch should be removed promptly in early Spring to prevent fungus (botrytis). In the Fall cut your peony to within two inches of the ground. All peony leaf and stem debris should be raked up and disposed of in the trash. Do not burn or compost. By practicing good garden hygiene and preventing the occurance of botrytis, one can avoid the need to use anti-fungal chemicals and your peonies will be healthy.
WHEN PLANTING POTTED PEONIES follow the same instructions and very gently loosen the plant from the pot being careful not to disrupt the tender feeder roots. Plant at the same soil level as it was in the container or two inches above an eye. Transplant only in the cooler months of Spring or Fall. Peonies left in containers need to be protected from severe freezes in wintertime.