Peonies have always been a garden favorite, but bareroot Peonies are a great value and fall is a great time to plant them! Because of this perennial’s magnificent flowers come early spring and early summer, more and more gardeners are adding them to their landscape design.
As Bare Root Peony popularity continues to grow, let's familiarize everyone with how to plant them so we all have complete success that is rewarded with amazing spring blossoms! Because who wants a peony-less spring garden? We don’t!
So, follow this blog along as Nature Hills outlines the 4 simple steps to planting a Bareroot Peony and gives a rundown of proper peony care once you do have the plant in the ground successfully!
First things first-- some of you may be wondering “How is a bare root peony different from potted Peonies?” The term bare root refers to a root that is divided from an already established plant, cleaned of all the remaining soil and is in the dormant state.
We dig our bare root Peonies from the field in late summer removing all of the soil from the roots and then we cut the plants into uniform pieces that typically have 3-5 stems.
Peonies have thick, fleshy roots and we cut off the stems. You’ll see that Bareroot Peonies have ‘eyes’ on them much like you see on a potato.
To read more about the basics of bare root plants, read our #ProPlantTips Bareroot blog here! Now, back to outlining how to plant peonies:
Once you’ve purchased your peonies and they have arrived at your doorstep, it’s time to start planting! We encourage you to plant your peonies as soon as you can after receiving them.
If need be, you can store them in a refrigerator or cooler for a short period of time while you choose/prepare your planting site.
The best time for Bare Root Peonies to be planted is in the fall when the air is cool and the soil is warm. This way the plants can make new roots before the ground freezes and that gives them a jump on spring!
Choosing the right site with enriched soil is very important as Peonies bloom more and more prolifically if left undisturbed to grow in the same location for many years. So, take notes on what your Bareroot Peony is looking for in a home!
First, locate a site that has well-draining soil and is a good distance away from other trees or shrubs that may have competing roots underground. The Peony roots like about 3+ feet to stretch out!
You’ll want this garden site to either avoid a windy area or have a windbreak nearby. Since Peony stems are vulnerable to breakage when heavy with buds and large flowers, avoiding the wind will give you a better chance of not having breakage.
Picking a location that is in full sun with a neutral pH is best too. Peony flowers love to bask in the sun once they have bloomed! However, if your region tends to have hot and dry spring seasons-- choose a site that gets afternoon shade.
Now that you have the prime location picked out, it’s time to get the soil surface and below ready for a plant! Once you have unboxed your Bareroot Peony, drop it into a bucket of water while you dig the hole. Then dig the planting hole large enough to accommodate the root mass-- roughly 18 inches across and a shovel length deep.
Take a look at your Peony root mass-- you should see a few eyes (small pointed buds that are pink or white). These eyes need to point up, and the entire root mass should be just beneath the soil surface.
You’re looking for those eyes to be about an inch deep below the soil surface. Yes, your plant will be fully underground! To get the correct measurements, take the plant out and backfill the hole with the displaced soil until the buds are in the correct position.
If you live in an area that has mild winters, place the buds closer to the surface (about 1 inch) so that it is able to get as cold as it needs. Areas with harsher winters will need to place the bareroot further below the surface (about 2 inches).
Be mindful to not plant the buds too deep as this will prevent flowering!
It’s time to actually place your Peony into the ground for good. Once you have positioned the bareroot into the hole and have double-checked that the buds are the correct dimensions from the surface, fill the soil carefully and firmly around the roots.
Do this until your place is fully underground. You don’t want to leave any air spaces in the ground as this can cause the plant to settle in too deeply. For best growth results, mix the soil with a trusty fertilizer!
Congrats! You’ve made it the last step! It’s time to water your new Peony. Using a gentle stream of water from a hose, add a decent amount of water to the soil.
You will see the displaced soil that you just backfilled the hole with will start to move around and sink. This is getting the air spaces out!
Since your Peony cannot be seen for months at a time, it’s a good idea to place a garden marker near this area to help you keep track of where your underground Bareroot Peony lives!
So you’ve got your bareroot peony successfully planted-- now what? Young peonies take time to develop into their vibrant, large glorious selves. At times, it can take a few years for them to establish properly, bloom and grow with ease. Be patient!
The first spring after planting will show about half of them blooming. The second spring, they should all bloom. And, by the third spring, they will actually multiply with more stems and more flowers! Long story short, Peonies get better and better year after year.
The best part about peonies is they actually thrive on benign neglect. So, you don’t have to bother digging them up and dividing them every few years like other perennials.
If your soil is on the poor side, simply apply fertilizer in the early summer after the flower buds have bloomed. Only fertilize every few years too as you don’t want to overdo it.
You can improve your soil by adding arborists wood chips as a mulch over your garden areas and wherever you plant your new Peony plants to keep the weeds away and maintain better moisture.
The main component of peony care is focusing on the flowers! Sometimes the stems are not strong enough to hold the large flower heads that sit on top of them. So some cultivars of Peonies may need support from a tomato cage, or stakes to help keep the flowers erect.
Once your blooms have faded, go ahead and deadhead the peonies by cutting to a strong leaf. Or, trim sooner and use the healthy blossom heads as cut flowers in a vase on your dining room table! Cut peonies are a favorite perk of growing these.
Cut flower tip: Cut the Peonies when they start to show color and wrap the cut bloom tightly in a tube of newspaper. Keep the cut end in water while storing it in the fridge. As you wish, take a few out and unwrap them! Enjoy a few at a time making them last for a long time.
Has this blog inspired you to add new or more bareroot peonies to your garden? We’ve got a selection at Nature Hills! There are many different colors and types of peonies-- one of them is perfect for you!
Grow a fragrant Kansas Peony for bright carmine-red flower heads come late spring! Not to mention, you’ll have a gold medal American Peony Society winner growing in your landscape. Now, that is something to brag about.
The double red blooms sit atop long stems in the garden and are great for long-lasting cut flowers in a vase arrangement. The Kansas Peony supplies the best of both worlds!
This herbaceous peony grows in a bush mound that is full of glossy, dark green leaves that make the flowers really pop. Past the time of flowering, the green foliage stays eye-pleasing creating the perfect landscape backdrop.
If you’re looking for a cold hardy perennial, you’ve found a match! The Bridal Shower Peony does well in colder climates and looks good while doing it. The creamy white blooms have frills and ruffles galore that look just like whipped cream on a tasty dessert.
The outdoor elegance this herbaceous perennial brings will have you wanting it indoors too! No worries, the Bridal Shower Peony also makes for great cut flowers that work hard in bouquets.
Even freshen up your space with the sweet fragrance that this peony brings. We suggest planting one near an outdoor seating area or patio so that you can enjoy their sweet scent while taking in the scenery too!
Add a touch of soft-pink to your landscape with the Sarah Bernhardt Peony. These long-lasting flowers are heavily fragrant and create a pollinator heaven. Find peace in watching colorful butterflies float softly near this peony!
The best part is its highly adaptable feature that makes the Sarah Bernhardt Peony hardy and easy to care for. And, the rabbits and deer won’t bother this garden stunner!
Use the large, ruffled flowers in floral arrangements that grace a dining room table or in bouquets that are given to neighbors and friends. Either way, this peony produces marvelous cut flowers good for every occasion!
So, what are you waiting for? Start growing bareroot peonies in your landscape today for spring flowers! You won’t regret it. And use this blog to easily help you along the planting process.