Plant Peonies in Your Flower Garden This Fall

Want to enjoy the spectacular blooms of peonies every spring? Fall is the time to plant these beautiful and long-lived plants in your flower garden.

Peony Garden

Have you ever seen peonies in full bloom?  If you have, it’s hard to forget the large, beautiful blooms that decorate the spring landscape.

Peonies come in many different colors, shapes and varieties.  In fact, the only flower color that you won’t find in peonies is blue.

'Beautiful Señorita' Peony
‘Beautiful Señorita’ Peony

So, why are we talking about peonies now, when spring is long past and fall is on it’s way?  The reason is that fall is the best time to plant peonies.

Peonies are a great choice for those who live in zones 3 – 8, where winters are cold enough to help promote bud formation.  Although peonies look like they would be hard to grow, they aren’t at all and make a great choice for the beginner to experienced flower gardener.  Once planted, peonies can live with little care for up to 100 years.

'Flame' Peony
‘Flame’ Peony

If you are tired of envying your neighbor’s flowering peonies each spring, how about planting your own this fall?  Are you ready?  Let’s get started:

1. Location – Select an area that receives at least 6 hours of full sun – more sun is better.  Keep them away from other trees and shrubs where root competition can be a problem.  Individual peonies should be planted at least 4 feet apart to allow them enough room to grow while ensuring good air circulation.

2. Soil – Peonies need well-drained and fertile soil – they do not like soggy soil.

'Pink Venus' Peony
‘Pink Venus’ Peony

3. Hole – Dig a hole that is approximately 2 feet deep and wide.  Amend the existing soil with compost to improve drainage, add nutrients and microorganisms.  A good rule of thumb is to add 1 part compost to 1 part existing soil and mix together.  For best results, add phosphorus or a granular all-purpose fertilizer to the compost/soil mixture (bone meal is a good source of phosphorus).  After mixing the compost and fertilizer with the existing soil, fill the hole back up and tamp it down to remove air pockets.

4. Planting – Peonies are usually planted in their bare root form.  Each bare root should have at least 3 ‘eyes’, which are small red buds that will later grow into stems.  Each bare root tuber should be planted just 2-3 inches deep and positioned so that the eyes are pointing upward.  It’s important to not plant them too deeply.  Water well after planting.

'Sea Shell' Peony
‘Sea Shell’ Peony

That’s it!  Now you can sit back and dream of the beautiful flowers that will decorate your flower garden in spring.  It’s important to not that peonies usually take at least 2-3 years after planting before producing blooms – but they are worth it!

How about you?  Do you grow peonies?  Will you be planting some this fall?

*Want to learn more about peonies?  Check out our little known facts about peonies, here.

Noelle Johnson
Noelle Johnson is a horticulturist and certified arborist who lives and gardens in the desert Southwest. When she is not writing or helping other people with their gardens, you can find her growing fruits and vegetables, and planting flowering shrubs and maybe a cactus or two.