Peonies forum: Moving a Tree Peony

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Name: Jennifer
48036 MI (Zone 6b)
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jvdubb
Apr 19, 2014 1:40 PM CST
My neighbor has a tree peony I can have. It is just two feet tall. It is just starting to leaf out. The leaves are still wrapped tight. Can I dig it up safely now?
Name: Liz Best
Elizabeth Colorado (Zone 4b)
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LizinElizabeth
Apr 19, 2014 3:26 PM CST
If you need to get it now you can but it'll probably wilt quite a bit and might not bloom this spring. It is easier and safer to move them in the fall or before they break dormancy. Take as big of a root ball as you can to keep the roots as undisturbed as possible and it should not suffer any permanent damage.
Liz
[Last edited by LizinElizabeth - Apr 19, 2014 3:26 PM (+)]
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graycrna4u
Apr 19, 2014 3:31 PM CST
No, you cannot move it now. Tree Peonies can be moved in the fall once the plant is dormant (ideally, after Labor Day). Moving it now will severely stress the plant and potentially kill it or retard it's growth such that it will take years to recover. In late August or early September, take a shovel and dig straight down at the outer leaf lines. Several weeks later, take a pitchfork and lever the plant out of the ground using this same margin. Take a water hose and clean off the roots of the plant (this will let you know how big of hole you will have to dig to replant). If any of the plant falls off and it has roots on it, plant it too. Fertilize in the fall, in the spring when new growth starts, and after blooming. It will do great. Been there and done that (with a TP that was at least 50 years old).
Name: Liz Best
Elizabeth Colorado (Zone 4b)
Peonies Winter Sowing Dahlias Region: Colorado Plant and/or Seed Trader Enjoys or suffers cold winters
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LizinElizabeth
Apr 19, 2014 5:32 PM CST
I defer to Graycrna4u. I have planted bareroot tree peonies before in the spring and they did fine but have never tried to move one that was already out of dormancy.
Liz
Name: Evan
Pioneer Valley south, MA, USA (Zone 6a)
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eclayne
Apr 19, 2014 5:38 PM CST

Plants Admin

Very timely question,...you beat me to it Jennifer. Thanks for the advice @graycrna4u.
Evan
Name: Jennifer
48036 MI (Zone 6b)
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jvdubb
Apr 19, 2014 5:45 PM CST
Thank you. I'll have to mark it good. It is a jungle over there. I am glad I can bare root it. There are things in that yard I do not want to bring with me.
Name: Jennifer
48036 MI (Zone 6b)
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jvdubb
Apr 20, 2014 1:00 PM CST
Well I had to dig it up today. They are going to clear the area very soon. Looking further it appears they cut back the main stem at some point. I cut it back further because it was mangled. But there is new growth coming from that down at the root base.

I potted it up with some really nice soil I mixed up and watered it really well. I have it in a protected area with mostly shade. I will move it into the garage on nights where it is going to dip below 40.

If it does not survive no loss out of my pocket. It was going to get clear cut if I left it.

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Name: Tracey
Wisconsin (Zone 5a)
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magnolialover
Apr 21, 2014 6:37 AM CST

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If you have a choice, moving in fall is best (August-Sept). Be very careful of digging and dig very wide and deep, severing main roots can impact how your plant recovers, the more roots you get the better. Good luck.
Tracey

graycrna4u
Apr 22, 2014 5:38 PM CST
You can pot it up until the fall. Remember, tree peonies don't like wet roots and they are cold weather plants. The colder the winter, the better the bloom. I would let it sit outside in the full sun in the pot and see what happens. Don't expect any major growth soon because you have disturbed the plant's cycle. Remember also that growing and nurturing tree peonies takes a long time to see results. You must be patient. In the fall, place it in the ground at a well drained site. Fertilize when planted, once in the spring when new growth starts and after blooming. Use a low nitrogen fertilizer like Neptunes Harvest (called simply Fish Fertilizer at Lowe's and Home Depot). Good luck.
Name: Jennifer
48036 MI (Zone 6b)
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jvdubb
Apr 22, 2014 5:45 PM CST
Good, my plan was to keep it potted up until fall. Especially since I am not quite sure where I am going to put it and I want to get it right the first time. I buy Neptune's Harvest by the gallon so I have that around.

Currently the pot is in part sun, I will move it to full sun. I have it in good, well draining soil. It must not be too upset because new growth is already poking though the soil.

It is sad the the neighbors did not know what they had and just hacked it back last year. But they did not plant it and are not gardeners so I can't really be upset with them.
Name: Jennifer
48036 MI (Zone 6b)
Cottage Gardener Houseplants Spiders! Heucheras Frogs and Toads Dahlias
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jvdubb
Apr 22, 2014 6:29 PM CST
Here are some pics from this evening

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Thumb of 2014-04-23/jvdubb/bb72c5

It looks off in the pot because I centered the root ball

graycrna4u
Apr 24, 2014 6:32 PM CST
Seeing new growth is great, but do not let the plant bloom. Cut off bloom buds so the plant can direct it's energy toward new root development.
Name: Jennifer
48036 MI (Zone 6b)
Cottage Gardener Houseplants Spiders! Heucheras Frogs and Toads Dahlias
Hummingbirder Sedums Winter Sowing Peonies Region: Michigan Garden Ideas: Level 2
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jvdubb
Apr 24, 2014 6:44 PM CST
Ah, thank you! Good suggestion.
Name: Jennifer
48036 MI (Zone 6b)
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jvdubb
May 5, 2014 10:28 AM CST
A friend pointed out to me what I probably have is an Itoh Peony, NOT a true tree Peony. I did not know the difference. Either way, my specimen continues to look good.
Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
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Oberon46
May 5, 2014 10:32 AM CST
I doubt it is an Itoh as they die back to the ground just like a herbaceous. I rather think it is a tree peony as you thought
"What a person needs in gardening is a cast iron back with a hinge in it" Charles Dudley Warner (spelling edited by Dinu lol)
Name: Jennifer
48036 MI (Zone 6b)
Cottage Gardener Houseplants Spiders! Heucheras Frogs and Toads Dahlias
Hummingbirder Sedums Winter Sowing Peonies Region: Michigan Garden Ideas: Level 2
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jvdubb
May 5, 2014 10:34 AM CST
Thanks Mary Stella! I'm so confused
Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
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Oberon46
May 5, 2014 10:36 AM CST
Easy to do with peonies. I love them and they do so well up here unless there is 'operator error' as there was last year. Too much water.
"What a person needs in gardening is a cast iron back with a hinge in it" Charles Dudley Warner (spelling edited by Dinu lol)

graycrna4u
May 5, 2014 5:19 PM CST
JV Dubb, the picture clearly shows a woody stem from a tree peony. Itoh's do not have woody stems. There are three types of peonies: herbaceous (green stems and dies back in the fall) cut to the ground after Labor Day; tree peonies (woody stems and the leaves dies off in the fall but you do not cut back). It will look like a leafless bush or twig in the winter; and Itoh or hybrid peonies (a hybrid between herbaceous and tree peonies). It will have strong green stems but will also die back in the fall and needs to be cut back to within one inch of the ground. Hope this helps clarify. You have a tree peony. It will grow best in well draining soil and in 6b it will need full sunlight. Pick a good spot and be patient.
Name: Jennifer
48036 MI (Zone 6b)
Cottage Gardener Houseplants Spiders! Heucheras Frogs and Toads Dahlias
Hummingbirder Sedums Winter Sowing Peonies Region: Michigan Garden Ideas: Level 2
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jvdubb
May 5, 2014 6:37 PM CST
Thank you so much for clarifying!!
Name: Liz Best
Elizabeth Colorado (Zone 4b)
Peonies Winter Sowing Dahlias Region: Colorado Plant and/or Seed Trader Enjoys or suffers cold winters
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LizinElizabeth
May 5, 2014 9:31 PM CST
jvdubb, in your first picture where the root was exposed it looked to me that there was some tree peony root growth with the remaining herbaceous nurse root still attached. If the herbaceous root is still viable it can start growing a herbaceous peony; not a good thing for the newly forming tree peony root. You'll want to plant a tree peony much deeper than a herbaceous to keep that from happening. If you have any new growth from the ground and the leaves look different from the tree peony leaves pinch them off as low as you can get, right down to include the eye if possible.
Liz

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