{In the Garden} Peonies

Just thinking about peonies makes me swoon. I’m a sucker for any fresh flowers but these huge frilly blooms are my favorite. Mine usually make their big appearance at the end of May or beginning of June but with this year’s cold spring they’ve just finally arrived.
heirloom peonies

Telling Stories with Flowers
They were the first plants I put in when we bought our house, with its then non-existent landscaping. I’ve since packed five peony plants into my small city backyard but those first two were heirloom variety plants that have been in my family for five generations. You don’t usually think of plants as family heirlooms but it’s such a fun and beautiful way to keep the spirit of a family going.

Since peonies played a starring role at my wedding, my third peony was a wedding gift that blooms every year around our anniversary. As nice as china and colanders are, plants can be a gift for a special occasion that really can keep giving.

pink peonies

Transferring Peonies
As with most perennials, the best way to grow peonies is by dividing and transferring them from an existing plant from a friend or family member, like my heirloom varieties. Not only is this free (!) but it’s the fastest way to get large lush plants with lots of flowers.

You want to transfer them in early fall so that the root systems can establish before spring. Use your hands to separate out a section of an existing plant and then use a straight spade to carefully make a clean cut through the plant base. Dig deep to get all of the roots out and transfer as soon as possible to the new location. Examine your new plant to locate the “eyes” of the peony (see here).  They will be 1-2 inch pinkish sections at the bottom of the stalks just above the root base or 1-2 inch pinkish cones sprouting from the root base.  When you place the plant in the ground, leave about 1 inch of the eyes showing above ground.  Cover the rest firmly with soil.  Water well.

Do you love or hate peonies?  Do you have a special plant story? Please share!

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14 Comments

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14 responses to “{In the Garden} Peonies

  1. I LOVE peonies! Yours are beautiful!!

  2. These are so beautiful! I am admittedly the farthest thing from a flower connoisseur or a green thumb, but I do love these gorgeous blooms 🙂

  3. Lindsay Szwed

    absolutely gorgeous! these are my favorite flowers, as well. i’m currently planning a peony tattoo…but am looking closely at artists that can truly capture the beauty of them!!! yours look fantastic!

  4. i loove peonies! i think we’re going to have them at our wedding next year 🙂 xoxo jillian:: enter to win My Memories Digital Suite Scrapbooking Software

  5. Peonies are definitely my favorite flower, as well. I was ecstatic to learn we have three peony plants in the backyard of the house we just bought. They’re just so soft, pretty and fun. All of ours are the hot-pink variety, but I’d love to add some softer pink ones, as well.

  6. Dot Smith

    I had a peony plant at my first house over 50 years ago. I have moved it at least 3 times since and it is still doing well after a recent move. I think a plant like that would make a magnificent gift. Thanks for the idea.
    Dot

  7. Alison

    My peonies are finally blooming! I love their romantic appearance and the wonderful fragrance they bring. The photos you took of your peonies are beautiful : )

  8. Dana

    So glad you posted this! We were lucky enough to have peonies at the house we bought, 3 in front and 1 in back. We are probably going to dig up the front bed to change things around, but this will help me to transfer them elsewhere. I have a friend’s mom who wants them too….do I have to wait to dig until fall? With all the rain we had, mine were out for about 2 weeks then demolished. Can I cut the stems all down until ready to dig up or do I have to leave them?

    • Katie

      Yeah rain will trash peonies 😦 At least wait until they are completely done blooming to transfer them. I would wait until late summer to transfer but if you really want to do it sooner it probably won’t hurt the plant as long as you continue to water it well once transferred. I would not trim them down before you transfer. It will give you a better idea of the size of the plant and help the plant establish itself better in it’s new spot.

      I leave all the stems/leaves on all my plants until I close down my garden in the late fall and then trim them down to 1-2″ high for the winter. It gives the garden a full look all summer and then makes it much less messy in the spring.

      • Dana

        Well….we decided to take everything (bushes and all) out of our front garden. Unfortunately the peonies didn’t make the cut. If you ever completely dig the roots up…..it is a pain! They are huge!!!! Looks like giant carrots 🙂 I still have a plant in the back, so I may transfer and make a few more plants. If I replant part of one, will it grow into multiples or just one?

  9. LOVE Peonies!! They’re so fluffy and beautiful!

  10. I love Peonies! Your peonies are gorgeous and you did a great job with the pictures. I always enjoy reading stories about peonies and how they’ve survived for years. My passion for peonies was such that my husband thinks I am spending too much on it. So, I decided to start a peony farm in Sequim, Wa.

  11. Arlene Murrell

    A man from my neighborhood used to walk his dog past my house everyday. When my peonies were blooming, he always admired the pink and white varigated blossoms and asked what I did special to make them look so good. He told me had peony plant at home that he had in the ground for several years and it had never bloomed. Mine was in a large pot. I told him I did nothing special, but it took two years to bloom, except I did not plant mine in the ground. Consequently, he transferred his plant to a container and the next Spring he got blossoms. We were relocating to another State and I told him when we moved he could have it, and I delivered as promised. He was elated. Too bad I will not be around to find out how it bloomed this Spring. That was my random act of kindness for a day. Arlene

  12. Kim

    Love ’em! Have similar affections for the heirlooms. Rescued some from the old homestead farm in WV dating back over 200 years! So glad to have that connection with my family!
    Thanks for sharing!

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