The Q&A Archives: planting and caring for tree peonies

Question: Thanks for your helpful information on growing grapes which I received so promptly. I just received three tree peony plants that our daughter ordered and sent to us to grow. Do we need to put peat moss or special soil in the planting hole? Also do they like acid soil? Anything you can tell me will be appreciated. Irma

Answer: Glad we were helpful with your grape growing questions!

For success with your new peonies, select a site in full sun (late afternoon shade is okay), with good air circulation and good drainage; in windy areas, choose a sheltered location. Prepare the soil well by mixing in organic matter such as compost or peat moss to a depth of 18 inches. Refill the hole almost to the top and tamp down well.

Peonies are sold bare-root in fall. Plant the root no more than 1/2 inches deep. Space roots 3 to 4 feet apart. If you have potted plants rather than bare-root plants, simply plant them in the prepared hole, making sure they are resting at the same soil level as they were in the pot. Keep soil moist; don't fertilize the first year. Apply moderate amounts of fertilizer thereafter.

Flowers appear in April. The first year you'll probably get one or two blooms. By the third year, you should get a good show. You'll probably find ants crawling on the buds of peonies, but don't try to control them; longtime peony growers say they help the flower buds open. Cut off flowers after they fade. Plants will die back in fall.

Good luck with your peonies!

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