How to transplant peony bushes

Written by a.r. hill
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Peony bushes, a perennial garden favourite, provide lush blooms with very little maintenance. With lots of sun and good drainage, some peony bushes last 100 years. Transplanting weak or deteriorating peonies to a better location often rejuvenates the ailing plant. But peonies rarely bloom the first year after planting, so if possible avoid moving healthy plants and interrupting your annual show of peony blossoms.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Potting soil
  • Garden fork
  • Compost or humus
  • Fertiliser

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  1. 1

    Select a spot to transplant the peony. Peony bushes prefer six hours of sun a day and well-drained soil.

  2. 2

    Dig a hole 12 to 18 inches deep for the transplanted peony. Use the garden fork to loosen the soil on the sides of the hole. Add 3 inches of compost or humus and a handful of all-purpose granular fertiliser. Build a cone out of amended soil in the bottom of the hole.

  3. 3

    Dig up the peony plant. Dig a wide hole around the existing plant, taking care not to cut any of the peony bush roots. Lift the entire plant out of the ground, and gently shake the soil from the roots.

  4. 4

    Place the peony bush on the cone of amended soil in its new location, gently spreading out the roots down the side of the cone. Look for the "eyes," or growth nodes, near the base of the main stem. Plant the eyes 1 to 2 inches below the soil level. Burying the eyes more than 2 inches below the soil surface prevents the peony bush from flowering.

  5. 5

    Fill the hole with rich soil, and gently tamp it down. Water thoroughly, and add 2 inches of mulch around the base of the plant.

Tips and warnings

  • Divide peony bushes when they begin to falter or stop producing blooms. Dig up the plant in early fall. With a sharp knife, cut the root system so each new plant retains at least three to five eyes, and plant as you would a transplanted peony.
  • No flowers on an otherwise healthy peony bush? Blame a lack of sunshine or roots planted too deeply in the ground. Replant the bush in a sunnier location or with its roots closer to the soil level.
  • Cut off flowers when they finish blooming to keep the plant from wasting energy making seeds.
  • Blackened buds and stems are a sign of botrytis, a fungal disease common in peony plants. Cut off any affected areas and dispose of them.

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