Planting Instructions for Your Bare Root Peonies.
We make special efforts to get your roots to you at the proper time for planting between September 21 and October 17th in the fall and hope you take advantage of this and plant the roots immediately. Holding the roots for any length of time before planting defeats the purpose of receiving fresh dug roots that are ready to start growing a new root system and building a strong plant.
Selecting a Planting Site
Select a well drained site with a rich well aerated soil which receives sun for most of the day. (At least 10 hours is best for stronger stems. More sunlight is better! If you don't have 10 hours of sun you can expect fewer or no flowers.
Preparing the Soil
Add peat moss at a rate of one part peat moss for every 3 parts of soil if you are growing peonies in sandy soils to improve root growth and extend flower life and increase the total number of flowers on the plants. If you have clay soils the addition of 1 part peat moss to every 3 parts of clay soil will improve aeration of the soil and increase the height of the soil slightly making a mound and providing better drainage. Raised beds with a depth of 12-18" of additional well drained soil is recommended for the hybrids and species that will die in soggy soils before you can blink an eye.
Avoid Wet Locations!
Never plant in a low spot where water will stand as this will kill your peony. They have no tolerance for wet soils! Never use a plastic mulch which suffocates the plant roots. Stone mulches are not recommended. Landscape fabric is not recommended for peonies.
You may use bone meal or a bulb fertilizer at the time of planting according to the instructions on the container being sure to avoid letting the fertilizer touch the roots directly. MIX the fertilizer evenly with the back fill soil. Never just put a scoop in the hole - it can kill the plant!
Prepare the Root for Planting
Soak the root for 20 - 30 minutes in water prior to planting to rehydrate the root which loses some moisture during shipping.
Dig a Proper Planting Hole
Dig a hole large enough to accommodate the roots without bending them. Set the root in the hole so that the dormant buds(eyes)will be one inch below the ground when the soil is gently but firmly filled in around the root. There should be nothing above the soil if you have positioned the root properly.
We do not ever recommend growing peonies in pots.
Appropriate Growing Zones
Peonies are cold loving perennials and best adapted to cold northern growing regions of the world where there is at least 6 weeks of below freezing temperatures. Good indicator plants include apples grown for their edible fruit and tulips which also require cold temperatures. If you can not grow either of these plants you are not likely to succeed with peonies. They should only be planted in the fall. Peonies are grown successfully in USDA Growing Zones 3 - 8 for garden peonies and zones 4 - 8 for tree peonies. Success has been possible in USDA Growing Zone 8b when the eyes are planted at nearly ground level with soil just covering the dormant bud. For this zone we also recommend that you place the peony where it is in a bright filtered sunshine during the hottest part of the day. Direct sun is too hot especially southern and western exposures. Select Japanese, single and semi-double forms and those doubles that are listed as having a week 1-5 bloom date rating. Some gardeners have reported good success growing the hybrid peonies which have parents from slightly warmer climates in their background. These will go completely dormant late summer. You must also pay very good attention to watering in the fall which is when the new roots and flower buds are formed, and again during growth and flowering in the spring. If the roots are not evenly moist in the fall you can expect very little growth and possibly no flowers the following year. The first two years are critical for establishment of this plant which is known to live for centuries! Death during hot summers is more likely than death over winter unless the soil is not watered properly in the fall and winter. Late flowering (Week 6 and Week 7 Bloom Date Rating)peonies do not bloom dependably or not at all in zone 8B so save yourself the heartache and select earlier flowering varieties from Week 1-5 or those that are listed on the hybrid pages. We do not recommend growing peonies in zones 9 and 10 which are too hot for successful peony growing.
Watering is Critical
It is suggested that you water as you fill with the soil so that there are no dry pockets of soil as the peony will be growing the majority of it's new roots in the fall. If it is dry for an extended period of time be sure and water the area to avoid drying out completely. This may mean getting the hose out after the first few frosts in the fall especially on sandy soil. The last thing you should do after the Thanksgiving pie is eaten is go out and check to make sure the soil where you planted your peony root is not dry in the rooting zone. If it is take the empty ice cream pail from the kitchen and fill it with water and give the roots a drink of water.
Remember peonies are large plants and each plant should be spaced about 36” away from it’s neighboring plant. This spacing also ensures that the neighboring plants do not shade the peony. If the peonies receive less than 8 hours of sun they do not make particularly nice foliage plants and should not be expected to bloom.
Avoid Competition from Tree and Shrub Roots
Be sure to avoid locations where competing tree and shrub roots will rob the plant of moisture and nutrients.
Winter Mulch the First Year Only and Remove Very Early in the Spring
In areas with clay soils prone to plant heaving from freeze and thaw cycles in the spring this is a most critical step since our recent winters with little snow cover has made this problem more prevalent. This is the only year you will need to mulch your peony in the fall after the ground has frozen. The mulch should be removed on April 1st or after the snow has melted the following spring or as soon as ground thawing is noted as peonies begin growth very early in the spring. For zones 7-8 that may be the first few days in March. Those left covered too long may suffer rot damage from a soggy mulch. The plants are more cold tolerant than they are soggy wet conditions tolerant.
If you've read this far you are your way to a great peony garden!
Peonies are one of the longest lived of all perennials and bring literally decades of joy each spring. We wish you much success and if you should have any questions please call us from 9 am to 5 pm Central time at 763-218-4540 (our cell) or leave a message with your name, a phone number with area code and the best time to reach you on the garden center line 507-498-3020. Don't send an e-mail since it could go to our spam folder and we might miss it.
Brigitte and Harvey
Our Simple 100% Guarantee: For mail order peonies the plants we deliver to you are healthy and true to name. If you are not happy with what you receive return them within 48 hours of receiving them with the labels attached in the original package and packing material and we will refund your payment. After that time period you are accepting responsibility for the plants growth and well being.
Once you plant the roots you accept responsibility for their growing and care. Since there are many factors outside of our control once they are planted we can’t guarantee their growth or be responsible for them. As always, you are welcome to call with questions for us to help you succeed and we hope you do so at planting time.
Peonies fail for some of the following reasons: We can not be held responsible for losses due to improper soil preparation, incorrect planting location, fertilizing, improperly adjusted sprinkler systems, extreme temperatures in handling or storage, extremes of weather or a delay in planting once received. Other reasons that we have encountered for loss of peonies include; 4 wheeler damage, snow mobile damage in winter, mower damage in spring and summer, flooding, dog urine, sprinkler system overwatering and frost heaving from lack of mulch the first season.
We can not guarantee your success since that depends on factors beyond our control.
We ship a standard 3-5 eye peony root for all our garden peony varieties. Peony species may only have 2-3 eyes which is due to their unique root structure that may be considerably smaller than the common garden peony naturally.
Peony roots are all different and some plants may naturally have finer (smaller) roots than others as well as some that are more inclined to be larger than average. This is a difference in variety and does not reflect on the garden performance of the plants.
Species roots are generally smaller than the modern hybrids and so are many of the Rock Garden Peonies which are close to the species in their parentage.
We will never substitute varieties. In the rare event that we are unable to supply a first quality root due to natural circumstances beyond our control for your order we will issue a refund.