What Do Bare Root Peonies Look Like

Because of its stunning spring and early summer flowers and appealing leaves all year long, peonies are well-liked perennials. For herbaceous peony (USDA Zones 38), which totally wither to the ground in the winter, follow these recommendations. Tree peonies, which resemble shrubs and have woody stems that are always visible (Zones 49), have slightly different needs.

Herbaceous peonies should be planted in the fall, when they are dormant. Peonies that are planted in the spring may not bloom for a number of years, and if they sprout new shoots before setting down strong roots, they may even perish. In the fall, mail-order and neighborhood nurseries sell bare-root divisions. A part of the rooted crown with multiple dark red growth buds known as eyes makes up a bare-root peony division. Every bud in the spring sprouts a stem. Look for a division with at least 3 to 5 eyes because the more eyes a division has, the fuller it will appear.

Fall is the best time to plant bare-root herbaceous peonies.

1. Select a location with well-drained soil that is far from competing tree and shrub roots. Give each plant a three-foot-diameter area to grow in. Because peony stems are prone to breaking when heavy with buds and blooms, avoid windy regions or provide a windbreak. In most places, a setting with direct sunlight is ideal. If your springs are often warm and dry, pick a location with afternoon shade.

2. Make the soil ready. Peonies bloom most profusely when allowed to grow undisturbed in the same spot for many years, therefore it’s crucial to put them in well-prepared, enriched soil. Make a planting hole that is 18 inches deep and 2 feet wide. Compost or well-rotted manure should be incorporated into the hole’s bottom with multiple shovels. Add dirt, additional compost, and a cup of bonemeal to the hole halfway. Also incorporate roughly a cup of ground limestone if your soil is acidic. pH levels of 6 to 7 are ideal for peonies.

3. Place the peonies. Setting the division too deep prevents blossoming; only 1.5 to 2 inches of soil should cover the eyes. Position the eyes so they will be just.5 to 1 inch below the soil surface if you garden in an area with a mild winter. This will expose the roots to as much winter cold as feasible. After setting the peony in the hole, firmly yet carefully pack soil over the roots. Verify that there are no air gaps that can permit the plant to root too deeply.

4. Use a hose to water the plant with a soft stream. After that, surround it with a light mulch, like chopped leaves or evergreen branches, to help control soil temperature and moisture and lessen weed competition. In order for the plant to fully cool, mulch should be removed in the winter. The first year the peony may not bloom, but by the third year it should be in peak condition.

How long do bare root peonies take to grow?

What’s required for peony plants to prosper? These perennials require little maintenance.

  • They can survive a lifetime and thrive in USDA zones 2 to 8.
  • A must-have is well-drained soil.
  • A full day of sunshine is ideal, but a half-day is also acceptable. A prolonged bloom season may benefit from some shade.
  • The best time to grow peonies is in the fall, when you can plant them bare root.
  • Just an inch or two of earth is placed over the eyes before roots are planted (buds).
  • Peonies in pots can be moved in the spring or fall.
  • Early in the spring, fertilize.
  • After bloom, deadhead the wasted blooms.

In the first two years following planting, peonies develop a strong root system. The first year, they frequently bloom. The size of the plant and blossom both increase the next year. They mature and start to produce a profusion of flowers by their third spring. You may never need to divide your peonies because you can frequently enjoy your peony plants in the same location for decades (unless you want additional plants to grow or share).

In the fall, plant peonies from bare roots. When planted between late August and early November, they will grow more feeder roots more quickly. We have planted in various months of the year (bare root or from pots). I’ve tried planting some in December and January, but they won’t develop much root growth in the first few months. Instead, they will lay in the ground, waiting for the ideal moment to grow. If the chance presents itself, I take chances when planting. I don’t believe I’ve lost any plants because of the time of year I planted them; perhaps slower root development the first year. Sometimes planting a root during the “wrong time of year” is preferable to caring for it in a container. In my experience, peony plants with adequate roots grow and enlarge in the third year, regardless of when they were planted.

Peony plants in pots (containers) can be moved in the spring or the fall. Additionally, bare root peonies can be potted up in the fall or early winter and planted in the spring. Store potted peonies slightly moist in a garage or shed when temperatures fall below 10 degrees Fahrenheit for extended periods of time to protect them from severe freezing/thawing/freezing.

  • Peonies adore the sun, and for the optimum growth and bloom, they need at least a half day of it (full sun is ideal). A little bit of shadow is acceptable and can help your peonies bloom with more vibrant color; just make sure they get at least a half day of direct sunlight. (Too much shade will result in little to no peony flower and foliage).
  • The optimum place for peony plants to flourish is in the ground, although some gardeners are growing one or two in sizable patio pots. For optimal results, use a large container of 10 gallons or more due to the peony’s relatively massive roots. Make sure it has good drainage, and don’t forget to water it more frequently than a peony that was planted in the ground. Large raised beds are also a good choice for peonies.
  • Peonies can grow in a variety of soil conditions and prefer well-drained clay soil. Although you can improve your soil, it is frequently unnecessary. Our farm’s clay soil is well-drained and supports the growth of our peonies. You can adjust your soil if you’d like to increase the organic matter and nutrients.
  • Dig a hole that is roughly 15 by 15 inches for the planting site, then fill it with the spaded soil. In order for the root to sit just below or at ground level, only the necessary amount of dirt should be removed.
  • With the “eyes” (buds) facing upward, place the peony root at any angle and downward. One to two inches of soil are deposited on top of the “eyes” of the roots, which are positioned close to the surface of the ground (buds). Be careful not to bury peony roots too far. Imagine doing this by placing your bare-root peony “just below ground level” or at ground level with just a few inches of soil mounding over the root.
  • Gardeners claim success with planting the peony root near ground level with just a touch of soil (about one half inch) over the eyes in warmer climates (The South, California), where peonies can be grown.
  • Itoh Intersectional peonies have very enormous roots, and some of their “eyes” are located on a woody stem. To completely enclose the eyes, you might position these peony roots at an angle. Compared to other herbaceous peonies, itoh peonies can be planted a little bit deeper.
  • Immediately after planting your peony root, water it. Make sure to keep giving fresh peony plants water every week or so until the Fall rains take over.
  • Check the peony root carefully; if it has sunk too far, pick it up and add more dirt beneath it. For optimal results, make sure the soil is only one to two inches deep. Peonies that are planted too deeply may only produce foliage and no flowers.
  • When you plant bare root peonies in the fall, they will develop new feeder roots. The roots buried in the ground won’t be harmed by the winter’s frigid temperatures (garden). Peonies enjoy chilly winters.
  • A very large container with good drainage is necessary when planting peony in pots or containers. Make sure that the soil is only one to two inches thick around the eyes. Water the potted peonies and keep them moist, but allow a period of near-dryness between waterings. Protect potted peony from freezing temperatures in the winter. Roots of planted or potted peony plants are not harmed by frost; however, potted peonies may be affected by persistent arctic blasts or deep freezing.
  • When you first plant or transplant your new peony plants, give them plenty of water. Deeply water a peony, then wait a few days before watering it again. During dry conditions, watering first-year peony roots/plants every two weeks should be sufficient. The roots’ establishment will be aided by the wetness.
  • You might not need to water your peony again until you experience dry weather in the spring or summer until the autumn and winter rains start.
  • Peony plants are quite drought tolerant after they are a few years old, though they do benefit from a good watering every few weeks during the hot summers. Peonies do not require frequent watering after they are established.
  • Early in the spring, we apply 1/4 cup of fertilizer (10-20-20) to the drip line of our mature peonies. Following blooming, you can fertilize your peony plants. While some gardeners fertilize their peonies yearly, many do not. For the best outcomes with your soil, you might wish to experiment.
  • Use a slow release fertilizer when fertilizing potted peonies because other fertilizers will burn the leaves. In the early spring, right before plants bloom, we fertilize.
  • After flowering, remove flower/seed pods. You can cut the stems of your peonies to any shape you like.
  • Leave seed pods on the stems until they burst open in the late summer if you wish to allow them to mature. The seed can be sown right away in the ground or on potting flats and kept moist until the arrival of the fall rains. Some seeds will grow the following spring, while others will do so the following year.
  • In the late fall, trim peony stems all the way to the ground. To keep the garden clean, remove the stems and leaves. Peony stems and leaves should not be composted.
  • Northwest regions don’t need to be mulched. Mulch is sometimes used by gardeners in regions with particularly harsh winters; however, if you do this, make sure to remove the mulch in the spring; otherwise, your peony will be “planted” too deeply.

Check for the following signs if your peony start to lose their vitality over time:

  • The root may have been buried too deeply as a result of seasonal additions of mulch or bark dust (without springtime clearance). In our northwest environment, peonies don’t require protection because they enjoy the chilly winters.
  • Trees and plants in the landscape may offer an abundance of shade.
  • It’s possible that tree roots grew through the peony roots, crowding them.
  • too much nitrogen
  • They might also have lost their vigor, like some individuals, and require reviving. By digging up, dividing, and replanting a division with three to five eyes in a different location that gets good sun and drainage, you can revitalize your peony. They’ll recover quickly.

The winners of Gold Medal and Award of Landscape Merit peonies from the American Peony Society (APS) are featured on our peony descriptions. The American Peony Society has accorded commendable distinction to the flowers and/or growth environment of these peony.

Peonies that have earned the Award of Landscape Merit (ALM) demonstrate exceptional decorative value, overall landscape look throughout the growing season, and dependable performance across North America. The APS will assess numerous other peony types deserving of the title in the years to come. The ALM award is still in its infancy.

Court of Honor for the peony “Ave Maria” at the 2013 APS floral exhibit; Court of Honor for the peony “Coral Supreme” at the 2012 APS floral exhibit; and we were honored to receive Best in Show – Grand Champion awards for the peony “Bob” at the 2011 APS floral exhibit are just a few of our Brooks Gardens’ award-winning peonies. In 2018, “Lavon” won Grand Champion, and “Raspberry Charm” won Court of Honor.

Should I soak bare root peonies before planting them?

Planting peony roots in the garden is simple. Just because they seem a little strange, don’t put off planting them. In general, it’s best to plant them as soon as you can after getting them (unless, of course, the ground is still frozen outside!).

Step 1: Choose A Planting Location

To plant your peony roots, decide where in the garden to do so. The leaves of peony plants benefit from 6 to 8 hours per day of direct sunshine for the maximum growth. The plants are able to provide the best display of spring blooms thanks to the generous amount of sunlight. Some afternoon shade may be advantageous for the plants in regions with very hot summers and intense afternoon sunlight. In warmer climes, afternoon shade can help blossoms stay longer and require less water (especially in Zones 7-8).

Peonies prefer soil that drains excess water effectively and require a moist environment to grow. Peonies can grow in less-than-ideal garden soil, but they typically thrive in sandy loam soil with frequent irrigation or rainwatering. In order to produce a free-draining flower bed that allows surplus water to go down to the lower elevation sections rather than ponding around the roots, peonies can be planted in clay soil or other areas that drain poorly on a raised mound-type garden bed.

Step 2: Unpack The Peony Roots

Take the peony roots out of their packaging with care. A mixture of dried peat moss or sawdust is frequently marketed with peony roots. To obtain a good look at the roots, brush the peat or sawdust off of each one.

The peony’s roots are elongated, thick, meaty tubers. Peony roots resemble brown carrots quite a bit. Older roots appear woody and thick, whereas young roots may be flexible and bend slightly. The “crown of the peony plant” is where the peony roots all congregate and come together. The knobby bump at the top is the crown. The new, tiny buds that are emerging from the “crown are the “eyes. Peony “eyes” typically have a pink or white color and have a slightly angular shape.

For planting reasons, the “eyes” of the peony root are the most crucial to locate. The “eyes” must be positioned near the top of the planting hole and at a specific elevation. Check each peony root for eyes by looking closely. Most bare root peonies with 2-3 eyes are available in garden centers and plant nurseries. See the circled peony eyes in the photo up top.

Step 3: Soak The Peony Roots

After months of chilly storage, dormant peony roots are frequently dry. To help them fill up and hydrate, soak them in clean, lukewarm water to give them a head start in establishing themselves in the soil.

To soak the peony roots in, prepare a dish of clean, lukewarm water. Peony roots that are extremely dry can be rehydrated by soaking them for up to four hours. You can soak peony roots for approximately a half-hour if they don’t appear to be overly dry. It’s not necessary to soak peony roots before planting, but it does appear to assist the dormant roots awaken from their sleep (and make watering them less worrisome in the first few weeks after planting).

Step 4: Plant The Peony Roots

For each peony root, create a broad, shallow hole. The length of the peony root should be roughly twice as wide as each hole. The peony root need not be buried much deeper than the planting hole. If you’re planting many peony roots, leave about 3 feet between each one.

The crown and eyes of the peony root should be near the top of the hole. This stage can be a little challenging because some peony roots have unusual shapes. Seek out the pink and white “eyes. The “When the peony root is planted, the eyes should be close to the top. Attempt to position the peony root such that all of the eyes (often 2-3 on one root) are parallel to one another (all at the same approximate elevation). the root of a peony “The final soil surface should be around 1 below the eyes.

Holding the peony root in one hand, backfill the hole with the removed soil. Be careful not to knock any buds or eyes off the peony root’s top, but also take care not to leave any significant air pockets. Examine the height of the eyes in relation to the surrounding dirt in the planting hole once more. Generally speaking, peony “Eyes should be positioned around one inch below the soil’s surface. Zones 2-3 allow for slightly deeper planting of peonies, but in general, flowering should not be compromised by planting the eyes deeper than 2 inches into the ground.

Step 5: Water & Mulch

After planting, thoroughly water the planting area with fresh water. More dirt can be added to top up the soil level until it is flush with the surrounding soil if the soil settles significantly inside the planting hole’s perimeter. Apply a layer of organic mulch after watering to help preserve moisture in the soil and deter weed growth.

Here is a video demonstrating just how to sow bare-root peony roots in the garden: