The Q&A Archives: Growing Peonies In Spring Time

Question: I live in Syracuse, New York , which gets very cold. I just bought 3 peonies from the hardware store. Being a novice gardener who absolutely loves peonies, I would like to know when in the spring is the best time to plant them. All the information in your library says to plant them in the fall...but I just got them recently.

Answer: Peonies are traditionally divided in the fall, but they can also be planted in the spring. If these have been outdoors and are acclimated to the weather, go ahead and plant them now. Be ready to cover them with a cardboard box or similar material should a hard freeze threaten. If they are bare root or dormant, also go ahead and plant them now so they can awaken naturally with the season. If they have been indoors and are sprouted but very tender and weak, you will need to acclimate them gradually to being out in the sun and weather. To do this set them in their pots in a sheltered location and gradually expose them to more sun each day, beginning with just a little morning sun. Be careful not to let them dry out while in their pots or after they have been planted. Make sure the soil stays moist but not soaking wet for at least the first season and until they are established. Give them a several inch deep layer of organic mulch such as shredded bark to help hold down weeds and keep the soil moist. Finally, prepare a generous, wide hole for them and make sure they are planted so that the tops of the roots are only about two inches deep. This will ensure that they bloom profusely after an intitial two or three years of adapting to their new home. Remember too that the little plant you have now can spread to be three feet across, so space them accordingly. Enjoy your new peonies!

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