The Q&A Archives: Transplanting Tree Peonies

Question: I'm having central air installed in my home and the unit is going to need to sit in a part of my garden where I have two wonderfully healthy tree peonies growing. I've read that such plants do not like being disturbed and that their roots are sensitive. I'm writing to ask when you'd recommend transplanting them and if you have any tips about re-establishing these same plants in another part of the garden (they've been growing in a partially shaded area for about seven years).

Answer: Your peonies will definitely resent being moved, so try to sneak up on them when they're sleeping and make the move as quickly as possible. Peonies will grow in full sunshine to part shade and require rich, moist, well draining soil. Prepare the new planting holes by amending with compost or peat moss, then place the plants at exactly the same level they were growing before. Any change in their elevation might make them stop blooming. The best time to transplant is in the fall, after frost nips the leaves and the plants go into dormancy.

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