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How To Plant Peonies In Spring [Growing Guide]

How To Plant Peonies In Spring [Growing Guide]

Growing Guide: How To Plant Peonies In Spring

Peonies are one of the most popular flowers when it comes to summer blooms. Peony plants are reliable, need very little maintenance and, as hardy perennials, they will be long-term tenants in your garden. Are you planning to plant peonies in (early) spring, and do you want to learn how to grow these beautiful flowers yourself successfully? This growing guide will help you.

Good to know: You can plant bare-root peonies in autumn or spring. Do you want to grow them in autumn? Use our guide How To Grow Peonies In Autumn’.

Quick guide:

  • Planting season: Spring (or autumn)
  • Place: 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight a day
  • Soil: Sandy loam soil that is moist and well-drained
  • Water: Water once or twice a week in a dry, harsh climate
  • Fertiliser: A balanced fertiliser (10-20-20)
  • Preparation: Remove peat or sawdust before planting the roots. Soak the roots in lukewarm water for up to 4 hours.
  • After blooming: Herbaceous peony: Prune back to ground level. Tree peony: Remove faded seed heads and let the foliage fall off naturally. Itoh peony: Prune back to ground level

Planting Peonies In Spring: The Basics

Site Selection

First, select the right site. Peonies are happiest when they receive a generous amount of sunlight a day. We suggest planting them in a location with 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight. The only exception to this is if you live in an area with a particularly hot and harsh summer. If this is you, your peonies will like and tolerate partial shade.


The right soil is also important. Peonies need moist, well-drained soil to thrive. Sandy loam soil that is regularly watered is ideal for peonies, but imperfect soil is also great for these flowers.

Peat or sawdust

Have you chosen the right site and soil? When you receive your peonies, you must remove all the peat or sawdust that often covers these bare-root peonies in their packaging.


If this is your first time, you may be confused by what these peony roots look like. Don’t worry, we will explain it to you. The roots have 3 main parts:

  • The root itself
    1. The crown, the lump at the top of the root
    2. The eyes, the pink/white/green buds that grow out of the crown and develop into peony stems and flowers

    Learn more: Fun Facts About Peonies

    5 Steps To Planting Bare-Root Peonies In Spring

    Once you have unpacked your peonies, you can start the planting process. Are you ready to plant and grow peonies? Here is how it works:

    1. Start by soaking the roots in lukewarm water (for up to 4 hours). This will give them a hydration boost, which is essential to help them establish themselves in the soil.
    2. Dig wide but shallow holes for each peony root. The holes should be approximately double the width of the peony root length. If you are planting multiple roots, we recommend spacing the holes ca. 91 cm (3 feet) apart.
    3. Place the roots in the holes, with the crown and eyes at the top. Although the shape of some roots may make this difficult, aim to align all the eyes at the same level, ca. 2.5 cm (1 inch) below the soil surface. Make sure you don't plant peony roots too deep.
    4. Cover the roots and holes with soil. If you live in a climate with hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters, you can plant the roots an inch or two deeper, but ca. 2.5 cm (1 inch) below the soil surface is fine for most.
    5. Once you have finished planting, you can water the entire area and then add a layer of mulch to help keep the soil moist. Also, a balanced fertiliser (10-20-20) should be applied to fertile soil.

    Good to know: You can also transplant potted peonies in the autumn or spring.

    Peony Care In Spring

    Although peonies are very low maintenance, they do need watering once or twice a week if you live in a dry, harsh climate. This care should continue for the first year or two until the plants are fully established. After this, they will flower every year of their own accord.

    Have peonies finished flowering in the autumn? Prune herbaceous peonies or itoh peonies back to ground level. For tree peonies, simply remove faded seed heads and let the foliage fall off naturally.

    Choose Top-Quality Peonies Perennials From DutchGrown

    We ship large roots (with 3 to 5 eyes) fresh from the Dutch growing fields in spring. While a new peony plant rarely makes a first-class show in its first season, the vigorous plant will show peony buds and flowers in its second or third year. Choose top-quality peony perennial plants for spring from DutchGrown, and enjoy these flamboyant flowers that will fill your garden with gorgeous fragrances throughout the summer months.

    Below is an example of our 3–5 eyes peony root. This means you get more flowers for a single root.

    How To Plant Peonies In Spring [Growing Guide]
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    Meet Ben, our Flower Bulb Specialist

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