Planting Peonies In Spring: Tips For New Peony Flower Plants And Roots

4 Materials
25 Minutes

Now that it’s finally spring, who can wait for the peony plants in our gardens to bloom? While some gardeners would prefer to plant peonies in the fall, lots of us flower-lovers end up planting peonies in the spring. There always seems to be so many different peony cultivars available when the garden centers open in the springtime.

Read on for all my tips for planting peonies in spring.

1- Buying Peony Plants in Spring

Herbaceous peony plants are sold in two different forms in the springtime:

  • Potted Peonies (potted plant with a few dark red stems growing up – see planting photo above this section)
  • Bare Root Peonies (dormant tubers in bag with sawdust/peat – see video below)

Potted peonies are generally larger and more expensive than bare root peonies. Some specialty peonies may only be available in bare root form, in bags like this:

This spring I planted Sarah Bernhardt, Coral Charm, and some other lovely types of peony flowers in my garden. Here’s the types I planted:

2- Planting Peonies in Spring

Here are my top tips for planting peonies in spring:

  • Shop and plant early: get them in the ground in March or April
  • Bare root plants are generally cheaper than potted plants
  • Potted plants have a better chance of flowering this season (but in general, the planting year is never great for flowers)
  • Water the peony plant well before planting (bare roots can be soaked in water for a few hours)
  • Dig a hole in the soil that is twice as wide as the plant, but no deeper. Ensure ground soil is moist.
  • The soil line of potted peonies should line up with the existing soil level in your garden. Bare root peonies should be planted 1″-2″ below the soil surface. Planting peonies too deep can restrict blooming.
  • Apply a quality organic mulch like homemade compost to the soil surface after planting.
  • Keep the plant well-watered throughout the spring, summer, and fall.
This is what a bare root peony looks like before planting. They’re always such funny shapes! I took this one out of the plastic bag it was sold in, removed the wood shavings and peat, and soaked the root for two hours to rehydrate it. Now it’s time to plant!

3- Benefits of Planting Peonies in Spring

Here are some of the benefits of planting peonies in spring:

  • You get to garden outside after a long winter with only houseplants and seedlings (YAY!!!)
  • Wide variety of types at local nurseries and in catalogs/online
  • Most types are in-stock and available for immediate purchase
  • Instant garden gratification (or even pot them up if you don’t have a place for them right away….ahem….)

4- Drawbacks of Planting Peonies in Spring

Some gardeners will only plant peonies in the fall. Here are some of the drawbacks of planting peonies in spring:

  • Potential for delayed growth due to non-dormant transplanting
  • Need to be watered after transplant more than fall-planted peonies (I recommend installing drip irrigation for peonies)
  • May not bloom in the first year (this year is more like growing year zero than growing year one)
  • No end-of-season blowout sales offered by retailers yet

So, a peony planted in spring can certainly be expected to survive and thrive with dedicated TLC – it just may take a year or two for the flowers we all love.

5- Caring for Newly-Planted Peonies

Spring is perhaps not the ideal transplanting season in general because the heat of summer can be harsh, but the spring season certainly seems to be the best peony shopping season! Check out your local garden center, garden club sales, and even swap a few types with your gardening friends.

For care after planting, just be sure to keep your peony well mulched, watered, and generally cared-for throughout the year. Visit it every few days to make sure it isn't wilted or affected by pest insects.

Freshly picked ‘Festiva Maxima’ white peonies in a mason jar in June

6- ENJOY! 🌸

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Home for the Harvest | Mary Jane Duford
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  2 questions
  • Sandy Sandy on May 02, 2021

    I’ve had peony’s for about 4 years now. They keep growing back and actually spreading but never had a flower yet. Is it because I water by hose? We are in Nevada. Also do I need to cut the stalks down for winter?

  • Diane Diane on May 02, 2022

    So can you propagate peonies?? How is that done- I have two big plants and want to separate….???? Ty

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  • Carol Carol on Dec 27, 2021

    Mary Jane, what a wonderful peony planting guide!! I will plant some this spring. I just love the aroma of peonies. Thanks for sharing!!! Well done !!

  • P P on May 01, 2022

    First year lived in Michigan, had no idea what peonies were, but when I saw ants on them, I killed the ants real quick! No idea until my elderly gardener neighbor clued me in that ants are necessary for peony blooms to open - no ants, no flowers!