How To Plant Peony Bulbs – An In-Depth Look

A few plants can beat the beautiful blooming peonies; we will discuss how to plant peony bulbs in this article.

Peonies are a beauty to behold!   They are herbaceous perennials of the genus Paeonia and belongs to the family Paeoniaceae.

This beautiful bloom comes from Europe, Asia, and parts of Western North America. Its flowers are as large as a plate, showy, and often fragrant.

They come in a different glorious spectrum of red, purple, yellow, and white colors. They flower in late spring or early summer, displaying their wondrous floral display.

Peony plants thrive in slightly acidic soils of about pH 6.5 to 7.0 with good drainage. They do well in full and partial sun and are ideal for growing on the borders, hedges, walkways, and other areas. They are great centerpieces and excellent as cut flowers and have a wonderful fragrance!

Preparing Peony Bulbs Before You Plant

  • Peony bulbs are not truly a bulb as many people call them.  They are a piece of root from a dormant, earlier established plant.

  • You can dig up and divide your existing peonies if you wish to create more for your garden.  You can also purchase a bag of peonies, roots, or bulbs.

  • Peony roots or bulbs rarely require division, and they don’t like root disturbance. You can grow your peony plants in the same location for many years.  However, you can move or divide them if necessary.

  • Dig up your peonies after the leaves begin to die back in the fall or early spring. Remove the peony root or bulb using a fork or spade.  Shake it gently to remove the soil.

  • Look for the bulbs on the roots and cut apart the clump with a sharp knife.  Ensure each section contains at least 2 to 5 buds.

  • Plant your peony bulbs with the eyes facing upwards not more than 1-3 cm below the surface of the soil.

Where To Plant Peonies

Peonies are hardy plants that thrive in ideal conditions. Plant your peonies in a spot that receives lots of sun. If your area receives sweltering summers, pick a spot that gets about 6 hours of sun with a shady afternoon.

How To Plant Peony Bulbs

  • Planting peonies are perfect in the fall season. It is an ideal time of the year for growing these flowers without much fuss.

  • When planting your peonies, add some composted manure or organic matter to make the soil rich.

  • Plant your peonies at least 90-120 cm apart in your garden. Set your bulbs or peony roots into the soil at a depth of up to 2-3 cm ensuring the eyes face the skies.

  • Gardeners who would like to plant early-blooming peonies should wait until the end of fall.  Set the roots at a depth of 1 inch under the soil and provide them with some cover against the sun.

  • Water them well and pack the soil firmly around the roots. Check on the plants regularly to see if they germinate strong shoots and water them as needed.

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When Are Peonies In Season?

Peonies blossom in late spring through early summer, although this depends on the variety of peonies you are growing and your location.

Many nurseries offer early, mid, and late blooming varieties that allow you to extend out the peony season over many weeks and enjoy the bloom as long as possible.

When Are Peonies In Season

Peonies are hardy plants to Zone 3 and do well in zones 7 and 8. In most of the U.S., growing peonies is simple – give them full sun and well-drained soil.

Peonies tolerate cold winters because they need the cold weather to form their buds.

Check out When Do Lilac Bushes Bloom?

Supporting Your Peonies

Depending on the variety of the peony plus the growing conditions, you will need to provide your plants with some support when the flowers bloom.   This is especially for the double-style blossoms that can get very heavy during flowering.

Position your support early in the growing season before the plants get higher than a few inches high. When the plant has filled out or is in bloom, it is impossible to set up an effective support system.

It is rare for peonies to bloom the first year after planting; rather, it often takes up to 3 years before seeing an abundant bloom of flowers. However, once they start blooming, you can look forward to a lifetime of beautiful blooms all the time.

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Each year, it’s advisable to apply all-purpose fertilizer or a top dressing with compost as peonies require good health.  If you mulch your peony’s flowerbeds, ensure you keep the mulch away from the base of your peonies.

If you cover the base with mulch, the plant reacts as though it has been planted too deep, and it produces few flowers or none at all.

Types Of Peonies

There are three types of peony, which includes

  • Herbaceous Type – They die back to ground level each winter

  • Tree Peonies Type – They are taller and more woody and retain their frame throughout winter.  They are small shrubs, actually not trees.

  • Intersectional Hybrids – They are a crossbreed between the tree and herbaceous types.

Common Varieties For Peony Bulbs You Can Plant

Peonies bloom between late spring and early summer.  However, you can plan yours to give you a successive display of flowers starting mid-May to late June by planting different varieties. Here are some choices you have

  • Early Scout – A very early blooming with red single flowers

  • Firelight – An early bloomer with pale-pink single blooms

  • Elsa Sass – late-season blooming producing double, pure-white, Camellia-like flowers

  • Rare Flower of Frosty Dew – A late-season–blooming that has a 3-foot plant with bright pink fragrant flowers.

  • Karl Rosenfield – A midseason blooming with double large crimson blooms

  • Norma Volz – Midseason blooming that has large, white, fully double flowers

Common Varieties For Peony Bulbs You Can Plant


If your peonies are well located and happy, they can bloom for 100 years or more with little to no attention.

This means they are worth spending some time upfront.  Choose the right planting location and prepare the soil.

Your peonies will be more vigorous, healthier, and more floriferous if you provide them with ideal growing conditions.  Happy Peony gardening!