Replanting peonies: location, timing & instructions


For me plants are some of the most exciting living beings, even though they live in slow motion. They have fascinating abilities and just so much potential! That's why I studied organic farming. However, since plants are rather thin on the ground in my city, I often spend time hiking in the nearby mountains at the weekend. In the future I would love to run a farm myself.

Favourite fruit: strawberries and gooseberries
Favourite vegetable: courgettes

Are you redesigning your garden, or your peony no longer has enough space where it currently is? We provide helpful tips for replanting your peonies.

Pink flowered peony
When transplanting, you can also divide large peonies [Photo: junjun/]

Before the peonies (Paeonia) start displacing other plants in the garden due to their size, it is better to transplant the former to a new location. We have summarised here when to optimally replant your peonies and what conditions the new location should have.

Replanting peonies: the right location

In order for peonies to thrive for many years in their future place, the location must be well chosen. However, there are differences between shrub and perennial peonies that need to be considered. The location of the shrub peony is the more complicated of the two: it should be airy and exposed but not prone to cold drafts. A windbreak in the back of the plant is ideal here, even if this means that you cannot look at it from all sides. The plants will wither in deep shade, so they should be exposed to sun for at least half of the day.

Tip: in areas with severe late frosts, never plant the shrub peony in the morning sun because the rapid thawing phase in the early sun is very stressful for the young shoots.

Peonies in the garden
The peony needs a lot of space, otherwise it will crowd out other plants [Photo: Elena Kirey/]

Another important factor is the size of the space. The site for the shrub peony should be at least 1m2 because species such as the Paeonia delavayi can grow to 5m wide. In addition to the correct pH value (6.0 – 8.0), sufficient drainage effect is also essential. Waterlogging is an immense stress factor for any shrub peony. If the existing soil contains high proportions of sand, its effect is sufficient. However, in heavy clay soils it is advisable to loosen it and mix in sand.

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In contrast, perennial peonies cause far fewer headaches in terms of location choice. Their tolerance range goes from a loamy to a light soil and from calcareous to a slightly acidic (pH 5 – 6) substrate. Perennial peonies prefer a sunny position but also bloom in partial shade. The only important factor is that the planting hole must be worked and possibly improved two spades deep below the root ball because perennial peonies quickly form deep roots.

Pink peony flower
A good location ensures a beautiful and abundant flowering [Photo: Jiang Dongmei/]

When to transplant peonies?

First of all, it should be said that there are no fundamental differences between perennial and shrub peonies in terms of when to transplant them. Old peonies should be transplanted from late summer, as soon as the leaves change colour, until late autumn. Replanting peonies in the spring is not recommended because the young shoots can break off very easily. You can read about why autumn is the best time to plant peonies, as well as other helpful tips, here.

Replanting peonies: instructions in six steps

As before any project, it is necessary to allow enough time for transplanting peonies so that mistakes and issues do not arise in the later stages. We have compiled a guide for you below:

1. Determining variety and space requirements

The space required for a peony depends entirely on the height of each variety. In most cases, this is 80-90 cm for perennial peonies. However, if small-growing varieties such as Paeonia tenuifolia or the ‘Raspberry Rose’ or ‘Gretchen’ varieties are purchased, half a metre is also sufficient. For shrub peonies, this space requirement may be greater.

2. Choosing the right place and time of planting to transplant peonies

The site should be blessed with at least half a day of sunlight hours. It should not be completely out in the open but have neighbouring plants and/or objects on one or two sides. Autumn is wonderful for replanting peonies.

3. Digging up a peony in its old location

When digging, you need to pay attention to the small and especially the large roots. For detailed descriptions, see our special article on propagating peonies.

4. Soil preparation at the new location

The soil in the planting hole should be well loosened and in heavy soils even have built-in drainage in the form of gravel to avoid waterlogging.

A person using a spade to dig a hole
The soil must be loosened [Photo: Yulia YasPe /]

5. Plant peony in a new location

Here, there are important differences between shrub and perennial peonies, and also between grafted specimens and division specimens. Shrub peonies are planted so deep that the grafting point (easily seen where the slender branch meets the thick root) is 10 – 15 cm below the surface of the soil. This ensures that the rootstock (root = wild plant species) does not sprout but only the desired “scion” grows and thrives above. If they are divisions, they are planted vertically. For young, grafted specimens (scion + wild rootstock), it is important to plant them at an angle. This promotes the growth of the scion. However, with regard to own roots, you should also plant several new shoots vertically upwards.

Perennial peonies, on the contrary, should be buried only 5 cm deep. Here, it is recommended to dig the planting hole and water it but dig in the plant only after a day or two. The reason here is the risk of subsidence of the soil along with the perennial peony, which can lead to significant weakening.

Tip: work a primarily organic fertiliser such as our Plantura Flower Food into the soil before planting to give your plants the best start in life.

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6. Caring for peonies after replanting

After planting, everything must be watered again. Additional water supply is needed only during long dry periods during the growing season.

Watering can next to a peony plant
Watering is necessary after planting [Photo: vilax/]

In addition to replanting, pruning peonies is an important maintenance procedure. To learn how to do this, see our article on pruning peonies.

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