Planting Peony roots
How to plant a Peony root
When Planting Peony roots it is particularly important to never plant the eyes more than 2” beneath the soil line. Doing so will result in your plant not forming flowers and you will be required to lift the root to the appropriate depth in the coming years. Apply a thick layer of mulch when planting roots in the fall. You can use substances like straw, leaves, bark mulch or simply more soil. The layer should be at least 6-8inches. This will prevent the frost from pushing your newly planted root out of the ground, leaving your eyes exposed. This mulch must be removed from the crown in the early spring.
Do not plant in a location where there is flooding in the spring. Flooding may cause the crown to rot.
Overwintering in pots
What if your ground is frozen but you still have planting fever? Click here for more information on how to overwinter peonies if you are unable to plant them into the ground. Peonies are very hardy and can be planted into pots or crates to be overwintered inside an unheated shed or garage. This process is very simple, just like planting annuals in pots during the spring. Choose a pot large enough to accommodate your roots use a mixture of garden soil and compost, ensure you cover the crown by 1.5-2inches of soil. Place these pots in a cold, dark place. It is ok if they do not freeze for some time. This will allow them to grow those smaller roots we talked about earlier. You should place your potted roots outside as soon as possible in the spring. Do not wait for them to start growing. You can set them out in their pot in a sheltered location as early as late March in some locations. Here in Southern New Brunswick, I set out crates/pots of planted roots out in early April. This allows them to grow in line with the season. As soon as your ground is workable you will plant your peonies into the garden. You do not need to wait for them to start growing, transplanting them while dormant is best.
Amending your soil with abundant organic matter will reward you with you happy Peonies. Adding organic content such as compost or rotten manure to your soil will improve its nutritive value and the overall health of your plant. Compost has the added benefit of loosening soil and improving its drainage if the soil has any clay.
Peonies prefer soil that is neutral to slightly acidic, with a pH of 6 to 7. If your soil is too acidic, with a pH below 6, you can raise its pH by adding ground limestone, working it well into at least the top 7 inches of soil when it is moist. If your soil is too alkaline, with a pH above 7, you can add sulfur, peat moss, pine needles or other such items to your soil which will increase its acidity. The amount of either lime or sulfur to add depends largely on the type of soil and its starting pH. A soil test report usually recommends application amounts of either amendment, based on soil type and pH at the time of testing. Most garden soil is adequate for the average gardener. If you are investing in many plants or looking to start a small business it would be advisable to have your soil tested. You can do a simple soil test yourself, these kits can be purchased online or at some local garden supply stores. For a more comprehensive test you can reach out to lab, this can be local or you may be required to mail you soil samples to them.