How to Plant Peonies – so they Bloom!

It’s time to plant peonies! I’m sharing everything you need to know to grow gorgeous peonies. Learn how to plant peonies so they bloom and reward you with tons of flowers every spring! These peony care tips are great for any level gardener.

How to plant peonies growing tips and a gorgeous bouquet of pink peonies /

Peonies! One of the first blooms of summer and an easy care perennial and if cared for properly, a single peony plant will reward you with armfuls of blooms for 100 years!

I picked the brain of experts at the garden center on how to plant peonies so they bloom like this!

Types of Peonies

There are three types of peonies: herbaceous, intersectional and tree.

I have herbaceous peonies – the most well known type and my tips below are for herbaceous peonies only.

Peonies grow best in Zones 3 – 8, and may need a bit of extra care within the extreme edges of their range. If you live in the deep south, choose an early-blooming variety that will come into bloom before the heat of summer.

Don’t know your planting zone? Check out this USDA Planting Zone Map.

How to make plant peonies and peony care tips last

Like all perennials, peonies often take a few years to produce flowers.  It could take two to three years for your peony to bloom if you plant a bare root peony.

Hint: If you want instant gratification, don’t buy bare root peonies.  I bought two-gallon container plants and they bloomed a few weeks after planting in May.  

Or you can choose from this Gorgeous Selection of Peonies in tons of beautiful colors.

This post contains affiliate links which means if you make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

“My peonies are thriving!”

I followed Kelly’s planting tips and can’t believe how beautiful my peonies look.
Carol T

How to Grow Peonies

  • Plant in early spring or fall.
  • Choose a spot that gets at least five hours of full sun (more is even better and more sun = more blooms).
  • Space peonies three feet apart.
  • Dig hole twice as wide as the root ball but only 1/2 inch deeper.
  • Add one part peat moss to three parts soil.
  • When planting peonies, it’s all about depth.  Too deep and the little shoots near the root won’t get the necessary “winter chill” which makes it impossible for them to produce flower buds.
  • Make sure that the top of the root and the shoots are planted no more than 1/2 inch below the soil and that the base of the plant is not covered with mulch.
  • Peonies have a tendency to flop from the weight of their blooms so stake your peony with a peony ring before it gets too big (preferably in the early spring). The peony will grow through and around the stake.
  • Water peonies at the base of the plant and try not to get the leaves wet which may cause them to develop a white fungus.

Hint: If a mildewy fungus appears, cut off the white leaves and throw them away so they don’t contaminate other plants.  

  • When your peony becomes enormous, you can divide it in the fall (but you may not get blooms for a year or two).
  • Get the most out of your peonies by cutting them before they fully bloom. The buds will feel soft like a marshmallow.  You can watch them fully blossom inside and enjoy them much longer. Check out my post on when to cut peonies for lasting blooms.
  • Peonies can’t store up energy for next year’s blooms without leaves. When cutting flowers, don’t remove more than half of the blooms and make sure to leave enough stem (with at least 3 or 4 leaves) on the plant.

Hint: Remove dead blooms in spring/early summer but wait to cut peony bushes to the ground until after the first frost.

Cut peonies when the buds feel like squishy marshmallows

For longer lasting blooms, cut peonies before they fully bloom and when buds feel like squishy marshmallows!

Peony rings help prevent flopping

To prevent flopping, add a peony ring soon after it starts to sprout.

10 Fun Peony Facts

  1. The peony is named after Paeon who was the student of Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine. Asclepius became jealous of his Paeon’s natural ability to heal so before Asclepius could harm his student, Zeus stepped in and turned Paeon into a peony to keep him safe.
  2. Peonies come in every color except blue and some varieties can grow to over 10 inches in diameter!
  3. A peony plant can live for more than 100 years under the right conditions.
  4. Peony petals are edible (just make sure that they are grown organically and without pesticides if you plan to take a nibble).
  5. Ants love peonies! They are attracted to the sweet nectar found inside peony buds so they climb inside which helps the flowers open (although peonies will open just fine on their own). Tip: Cut peonies at night or early morning when ants are less active.
  6. Deer hate peonies and so do bunnies!
  7. Peonies need at least 400 hours of temps below 40 degrees in order to bloom in the spring. This is why they don’t grow well in warmer climates.
  8. Lighter pink peonies are more fragrant than the darker ones.
  9. Peonies are the traditional flower to celebrate the 12th anniversary.
  10. The Chinese name for peony is sho yu which means “most beautiful.”
Peony growing tips - this is a healthy peony plant with tons of buds

This healthy plant has lots of peony buds ready to burst into bloom!

Lots more peony info in the links below …

Peony Planting and Growing Tips

5 Rules for Growing Perfect Peonies

How to Make Peonies Last Longer

Free Peony Printable

Have you Heard of Double Peonies

How to Grow Double Peonies

Plant some peonies today – they will bring happiness to your garden and your home and will make you richer and thinner (well, maybe not the last two).

P.S. these light pink flowers are called Sarah Bernhardt peonies or choose from this Gorgeous Selection of Peonies in tons of colors.

Don’t forget your peony ring to keep your blooms from flopping – read more about peony support rings here.

5 Tips for Growing Perfect Peonies #peonies #peony #gardening #gardeningtips #gardens #gardeners #perennials #pinkflowers #farmhousedecor

 Check out my post on cutting peonies here

Hydrangeas 101 – The Complete Guide Here

Hydrangeas 101 - the complete guide! #hydrangeas #perennials #gardening #gardeningtips #gardener #flowers #plants #kellyelko
How to Plant Peonies - planting care and tips so your peonies give you tons of gorgeous flowers #peonies #peony #gardener #gardening #gardeningtips #perennials #flowers #landscapeideas #flowers #springflowers

Share this Post!


  1. We inherited three peony bushes when we bought our house and they always were beautiful but covered in ants. We then had ants inside, and being young and naive, we thought peonies = ants. So we killed them and covered them with a giant dog house. Well, fast forward years later and I’m in love with them. AND, the best part, is one of the bushes has survived and needs transplanted. The timing works out perfectly as I’m trying to create a backyard garden on a very limited budget (as in free, hopefully!). So far, so good. So, long story short (sorry!), thanks for the tips!!!!!

      1. Peonies NEED ants to bloom. The ants are what cause the buds to open. If you spray the ants, your peonies will bud but not bloom that spring.

      2. Place the cut stems upside down in a pail of water. Wait till the ants float to the top of the water. Might take 5 -10 minutes.

    1. I am recently discovering my green thumb as well and also am on a limited budget (aka need it to be free) SO I’ve found a trick.. When I take my kids to the park, and see a beautiful rose bush, I pinch off pieces and root and plant and grow them. also if you know anyone who has any plants that spread on their own, sometimes they will let you dig up a small one and let it spread for you. I did that with monkey grass and it is a great space filler too for my little flower beds. Day lillies are also great for that! And survive the winter ..which is also a way to save $$ !! Another Wal-Mart and other stores for their plants in, not so good shape..they reduce the price greatly just for a few wilted flowers! and it is soooo satisfying to bring home a wilted plant and give it some love and care and watch it spring back to life!! I’ve become obsessed with saving plants like that recently since a friend gave me that idea!! :)/anyway..peones are something I have yet to try, but am going to ASAP !! They are too beautiful! I was just on here trying to find out if they can grow from cuttings and stumbled across your comment and felt the need to give a little advice I’ve learned myself. Good luck to you!! 😉

      1. I once bought a feeble, sickly Japanese Maple for a few bucks. It grew to be a beautiful tree. I agree that the sickly plants can become very robust with a little patience and love!

  2. hahaha Kelly, Thank you SOOO much for this post!!!!! My husband and I have been argueing about dividing peonies for at least 5 years (I think he just doesn’t want to do it lol) But you can bet this post has been forwarded to him at work ROFL. Oh and by the way, Peonie do equal ants….My Grandma always dunked her’s in a bucket of cold water for 5 minutes. (she said it made them last longer too) My peonies are hand me downs, so I knew they could be transplanted (after all these years- you would think He would know who he was dealing with lol) but I must always verify all info for him… Fact checker has been added to your title Maam…. Have a wonderful week!

    1. My hubby and I would have the same argument! Yes, ants do love peonies – try cutting them when they are in bud or at night when ants are less active. Maybe try dividing some – not all – of your peonies since they may not bloom next year after the transplant. That way, you’re guaranteed to have blooms!

  3. Here’s a god tip when you replant them,plant them so they are in ectektly same ground level as they were that will make them bloom works.

  4. Perfect timing! I bought peonies recently and have hesitated putting them in the ground. They are my all time favorite flower and I wanted to make sure I did it right. Thanks for the tips!! Hopefully I will have gorgeous blooms for years to come!

  5. For over 20 years, I have peonies planted in numerous areas of my property upstate, NY. I didn’t know ants loved them. Mine have never had problems until this Spring. Slugs have invaded them something awful. I have tried beer traps, soap and water cleansing, bought Slug-Off, and last night I tried salt. Nothing, but nothing seems to work. Every morning, I find more and more slugs eating up the leaves, but haven’t noted ants. I think the problem lies in the fact that they are planted alongside a pond where Irisis (which I didn’t plant) have sprung up in masses. Boy! the slugs are all over them too and I believe the slugs simply jump off the iris and onto the peonies. If all the rain we’ve had and the fact that the peonies are near the pond is the problem, then other’s please beware. Don’t make the same mistake.

    1. Use Epsom salts in your garden , it will keep the slugs away. Epsom salts is the only thing I use in my garden.. I have beautiful roses without black spot , and sweeter tasting tomatoes… Check online for Epson salts for the garden…you will be amazed at all its uses

  6. Kelly, I’m officially planting my Peonies now. You have inspired me. My husband tells me I have ‘peony-envy’ because whenever I see them blooming I whine about not having any in our yard. I’ve been putting it off because of other outdoor projects that I would like to do first, but not anymore! I adore Hydrangeas too!!!! Oh, and your mantra about the cocktails… I’ll have a Margarita with you!!! 🙂

  7. kELLY,
    Love your peonies. I have four and when they are in bloom I take tons of photos for my garden album. I read about cutting them while still in bud form and bringing them inside. It did not work for me–they never opened! I guess it’s true, “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature”,

  8. Kelly,
    I have a funny peony story. Raised very urban we recently took over my husbands family property. 25ish acres and I am getting to experiment with all sorts of gardening. Since we are only there on the weekends, my brother in law helps keep the lawn mowed and does some minor maintenance.

    Craving a big row of peonies by the drive, I purchased 8 dormant roots. I read every article I could get my hands on and amended the soil to near perfection, at least by my estimation! Every fri eve when I arrived I would run out in the dark with a flashlight looking for baby shoots. When they all came up, I did a serious Happy-Dance!

    Just one week later, I drove up to find the entire bed mowed cleanly to the ground. If I were the type to cry over plants, I surly could have had a good one that night. For the rest of the season, I grieved every time I pulled in the drive. Trying to console me, my husband kept saying ‘you never know, they might come up next year’. Convinced he was just be nice, I tried to gather the courage to try again.

    Fast-forward to a dark Fri night, just a week ago…same story, out in the dark with the hubby looking for new growth on my most recent planting beds. Completely against my will, he drug me over to the peony graveyard and said, ‘let’s just take a look’. Lo and behold there were THREE quite healthy small plants perking up their heads! Those babies got tomato cages…immediately to spare them from certain death! Can’t wait till the actually bloom, one day, but for now I am just celebrating their determination. Maybe they aren’t quite as daunting to grow as either of us first thought! Have a great evening.m

  9. Hi Kelly, I was curious if any type of peonies would work from where I live. I live in California in Orange County. From what I read up on, our climate isn’t cold enough to help stimulate the buds in order to get continuing blooms. I would love to purchase these at the local Costco here but hesitant because I’m just not sure if I’d only be wasting my hard earned money.

    1. Hi Lisa,
      I’m also from Orange County, California. I have been wondering the same as far as growing them in our area. I grew up in Missouri and we had tons of peonies and as kids we would sell bunches of them. I guess I’ll hit my local Armstrong and see what they say. Also, Roberta’s Gardens on QVC sells peonies that are suppose to be able to grow anywhere but not sure if they look like the ones I remember. I might try them.

  10. I loved this post!!! I don’t know why the thought of planting peonies is so daunting but mine are going in the ground today!!! Great post!

  11. I’ve tried for years in midwest, south, and east coast to grow peonies. Had some success in midwest many years ago. Am living back in Chicago area and am going to try again. Please advise as this will probably be my last attempt.

  12. Most of your information is quite accurate, however, the best way to get blooms the first year, is to plant large tubers in the fall. The problem with buying peony plants in the spring is that while they are ready to bloom that first year, it is often because small tubers were forced in greenhouses. They will often bloom the first spring , and because they are grown with small tubers, will not bloom for two or three years afterwards. If you plant large 3-5 eye peony tubers in the fall, you should get blooms the first year. And more importantly for this comment, you will get them every year after. With each subsequent year you should get more and more blooms.
    For best blooms remember:
    1. Full sun
    2. Good drainage
    3. Plant so eyes are only 1 inch below the ground. And don’t over compost in subsequent year. Peony eyes need to be close to the surface for your plants to bloom!

    1. That’s exactly what my favorite nursery gal said! If we plant bare root in the Fall the root system has about a year head start as compared to spring planting. I just finished planting 13 new ones… Can’t wait to see them next spring!

  13. I had about 10 bushes when I bought my house from white to pink a deep pink red and a yellow one, might have been a whiteish but it looked like a pale yellow. Never did anything except mow them over when they quit blooming and year after year they got bigger with more blooms. As I said when they quit blooming he took the mower to them. I had not seen one until I bought my house and they are my fave flower today, I miss them and my wood floors out of everything else place lol

  14. Don’t discourage ants from getting on your Peonies!! They are essential for removing the waxy coating on the blooms.

  15. I have had Peonies all of my adult life. (in 67) I have lived in this home for 25 years and brought Peonies with me when I bought the house and moved in. there about 17 or 18 plants now. I also add a plant or two almost every year. one plant was in the back yard when I moved in I have never moved it. Just take care of it like it was a child. it is very big and blooms white. It is still my favorite and never fail me. Oh by the way I named that one after a good friend of mine. Miss Betty. Love Peonies.. and so easy to care for.

    1. That’s a common misconception Liz – they will bloom with or without ants! Mine always do – and I bring some in when in bud and they always bloom like crazy!

  16. My grandmother had Peonies and they remain my favorite flowers. You have inspired me to try to grow them like Grandma did.

    1. Beverly – peonies need winter cold to bloom in the spring. Maybe there are some new varieties that I’m not aware of that may do well in your area. Check with your local garden center and good luck!

  17. Hi Kelly, your peonies look gorgeous!! I want to plant some red peonies in our garden, we live in Beckenham Kent. Where would I be able to get a healthy bright red ones and which is the best time to plant them, and their position. Our garden gets the sun in the afternoon. Thank you
    Kind regards

    1. Ishrat – I don’t know growing conditions for your area. I would check with a local garden center for more info. I do know that peonies love full sun and they need a cold winter in order to bloom every spring. Good luck!

  18. Where do you live? I live in the San Francisco East Bay Area and have heard it is too hot here and the winters are too warm. Although, I have heard there may be some new hybrids. What do you think? Love yours and am having a serious case of envy!

  19. Thank you for your informative post! I love peonies but as yet, haven’t managed to make them successful. Maybe I’ll try again this year! The only thing you didn’t mention was whether our weather zone makes a difference with how much sun they need.? For instance, I live in a zone 8-9 area and we get a lot of sunshine in the summer and it gets HOT! Do they still love the sun? Or would partial shade be better? Thanks again for your post!

  20. Thank you for the info on peonies, I have two in in my backyard.
    I was unaware of the fact that the plants can be divided and also not aware
    there is available a peony ring to prevent the plant from drooping.
    Thank you again ….

  21. Mine end up with tiny itty bitty red spiders. Any ideas how to avoid these? Makes me not want to bring them inside.

  22. I just bought peony tubers this spring for the firet time i love them and finally bought 2 different colors i have mine in 2 separate big buckets i really hope they bloom this year they should get at least 5 hours of sun a day is there anything else i need to do to them? I planted them 1inch below the dirt should i water regularly even now when it is still cool at night ? Im up for any tips ii can get thanks!

  23. I cut a tomato cage to make it smaller and put it around the peony bush before it starts to grow to prevent the plant from falling over

  24. Thank you so much for the Post. I rescued peonies from my mother-in-law’s yard and I needed to read this post to keep them in good shape. Thanks for the beautiful pictures.

  25. I have always loved Peonies. My daughter’s mother-in-law grows them in her backyard in Maryland, and they are just beautiful. Now I live in hot Fort Lauderdale. Is it possible to grow them here?? Or will they die. I think we are zone 10.

  26. Thanks for the info and the humor. New house with big back yard, too much shade. I’m trying to figure out where the sun is and how to place flowers accordingly. So this year everything goes in pots. Peonies I hope trans plant well.. so far peonies are at the top of my list along with rhododendron, roses and hydrangeas. If they establish well the rest will be a cinch. Keep blogging, your good at it.

  27. I live in Alabama. It’s hot and my soil is not great. Most folks have said peoniescwont grow here! I did plant some, lived for two seasons then died. Should I try again?
    Thanks for your suggestions.

  28. I live in SC and have always loved peonies. I planted my first one and it died very quickly. I think the roots were constantly wet from a drip system under the ground. Could that be the issue, it drowned?

  29. I love peonies! but heard they do now grow in So California. any truth to this? your photos are beautiful!

    1. I don’t think so because they require 400 hours of chilling (does it get that cold there)? I would check with your local garden center to be sure – but if they don’t stock peonies, there is a reason why!

  30. Thanks for the tips, they were so helpful. What about trimming the plant down after it has bloomed for the season?

  31. I love this article , very helpful. It took my peonies three years to bloom, beautiful but the heavy rain knocked them out at the second one. Anything I can do to make them stronger?
    Thx barb

  32. thanks Kelly for your peony pics! gorgeous. I am dividing mine and giving some to my sister. My question is when do you trim back the leaves, after they have finished blooming or wait until fall?

  33. Once they have bloomed, what is the best way to care for them so they bloom again next year? Do I deadhead, or leave them alone? Cut them back?

  34. I opened up Pinterest and right there on the very top of the list was this posting! Talk about timing. I had noticed that my peony was not doing very well. Now I know why! To much shade! I think I will transplant it this fall at my daughter’s home. I will be moving out of state by then. So I’d rather she have it. I will also have 2 HUGE Hydrengeas & 1 Azalia bush. All 3 of these are gorgeous plants!

    Your article was spot on for me…Thank you!

  35. Hi Kelly. I just signed up on both of my emails, 1 on my phone& 1 for my reg. Email I use on a desltop at the library. I have always loved pink Peonies& this is the yr. I am starting. I am buying from a store already in a pot. So I will need to put it into the ground. I pinned all of your beautiful photos. Love your vintage bread box.


  37. I loved these flowers when I lived in Washington state. But I am in Arizona now. I love the climate, but I am not sure about trying to grow peonies here. Any thoughts?

    1. Peonies need a winter frost to bloom so I think you are out of luck. Maybe higher elevations in Arizona would work but I’m not sure. I would ask your local garden center.

  38. Help! A large, very overgrown lilac hedge was ripped out when a 100+ year old house was, sadly, torn down in my neighborhood last summer.
    Lo and Behold, this year about 5-6 equally spaced groups of peonies are arising!! About a foot tall now. I never saw these in the 22 years I’ve lived here.
    I have been given permission to take them, if I do so before May.
    I will be as careful as possible, dig deep and ‘large’, follow the tips in your article and the comments, but is there anything else you would recommend I do? I wish I could let them bloom and move them this fall, but by then they will possibly be under a concrete driveway, yikes! Thanks for any advice you can give me.

    1. Nerina – how exciting! It would be best to wait until September to move them but as you mentioned, you have no choice but to do it now. I would do it soon (before they get too big) and realize that you might not get blooms for a few years once you move them. It’s worth the wait though – enjoy them!

  39. I love my peonies too, and enjoy them whenever they’re blooming; do you use any fertilizer on yours? Thanks!

  40. Thanks Kelly I have both the peony trees and the bushes ! I am haveing some luck with them ! I tried mulch in one garden they shot up I tried peat in another garden and I even got darting and planted one in the grass area hum the last one is just sitting there bad idea I guess so I’m going to move it to the south side and see if it would be happy there! I love that bread box hope I can fine one like yours! Bye for now I will send you pics of my peonies!

  41. I have one very old peony plant and two new ones. Of course after a tree fell and clean up I had alot of leaves (mulch) when mowing and thought I missed the old peony and got the first shoots yesterday by mistake, they are still there and visible, will I get any flowers this year? I am so mad at myself for not going out and staking it first.

  42. I love ‘em too and planted some about 5 years ago (after procrastinating and just talking about them for years) and while waiting for blooms thought they were dead. Low and behold to my amazement, they flowered and we’re as glorious as I’d hoped for. After enjoying them for only a couple years, I moved! Well it’s been 3 years again and up they come no matter my anxiety. I cannot wait to see them unfold knowing that I have once again helped to create such a beautiful force of nature. I’m complete! I have peonies once again.

  43. I just transplanted some peonies that has a lot of buds, any tips to ensure they still bloom, it’s hot here these days as well and they look terrible any tips to keep them going and from not flopping

  44. My funky peony story…moved from KY to Mich many years ago. Saw ad in sales circular for peonies & wanted to get some. Went to store & told store employee I came in to buy item from sale paper. Oh, he said, what are you looking for. Pinies, I told him. Well we don’t have those. Yes you do, I said, I seen them in your paper so I opened it up to show him!! Ohhhh, you mean Pee-ah-nees, he said. Well I didn’t know that’s what they were called in MI but I got m’y pinies & planted them!!!

  45. Tips from an old gardener.
    My only complaint about peonies is that they all bloom within 2 weeks and then they are gone. I live on the east coast and learned a trick years ago.
    When flower buds start to get squishy, cut them. Toss the leaves and place your peonie stems in a black plastic bag, tie the bag shut and place in the fridge. They will keep until July/August.
    Take what you want out, cut bottom of stem and put in warm water. They will bloom for you!

  46. The only thing I see that not been mentioned is climate. I live in Southern California and as I understand it, peonies need the cold in order to bloom each year. Am I correct?

  47. Your peony bushes are stunningly beautiful, and I’m jealous! lol As a child, our neighbor across the street had them in her front yard and she always brought bouquets of peonies and babies breath over to my mother. I have wanted to grow them for years, I tried planting the bare root tuber version several times many years ago. I think they must have come up somewhere by China because they never came up in my yard. Fast forward to now, we moved into my mother’s home after she passed several years ago and I planted an actual peony plant in one of her favorite flower beds. I was very saddened when each year the plant seemed green and healthy, but no flowers. This year I did the happy dance over and over when it finally bloomed. It only had one flower, but it bloomed! I was so happy that I planted another in the middle of my yard. Now I’m waiting til next year hoping it blooms, and the first one gets more flowers. Thanks for all the information and the beautiful photos!

    1. I’m so happy your peony dreams have finally come true after such a long wait! Everyone deserves peonies in their yard – enjoy them and hope you get tons of blooms next spring.

  48. Hi Kelly
    I live in South Africa and my favourite flower was always peony. My dad had plants in our garden in Belgrade and when he passed on I brought bulbs here. Of course I was not successful to grow them.
    The last bulbs I bought in Dubrovnik, Croatia and planted them in a big pot. It’s s late spring here in South Africa. The pot is in the sun but our sun is much hotter than in Europe.
    Please advise me how to grow my peony one has pink shoots above ground.
    Thank you so much

  49. Hi Kelly, Thanks for your this article, it’s very useful. I have a packet of seeds of the same type of peonies (Sarah Bernhardt). They are expected to sprout in about 90 days. How would you plant these peonies from seed? Should I plant them in small pots until they sprout and transplant or put them straight into the ground? Thank you.

  50. Love all the tips! I learned to not cut them still after the first frost, so thank you for teaching me that. Also loved the interesting facts!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *