peony - should I divide? transplant? both? when?

lcdesign(6 SEPA)September 14, 2007

3 or 4 years ago I planted "Monsieur Jules Elie", a gorgeous herbaceous peony. Its now really too big for the area I planted it in, and I'd like to divide it and move it. Its still got a lot of vigorous green foliage, and the place I'd like to move it is still covered with blooming annuals. I know that September is supposed to be the time to divide - but really how late can I wait to transplant? Or should I hold them over the winter in peat, like canna?



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Not a good thing to hold over - these aren't tubers like cannas. And now is the time to divide and/or transplant so it can get its roots established before the ground freezes. In fact, you are probably a week late. Better get at it.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2007 at 2:58PM
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john_4b(z4b WI)

It's time and you already know it! Remove some of the annuals and transplant the peony. The annuals will be gone soon, and the peony will do much better in the ground, the sooner the better.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2007 at 3:51PM
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lcdesign(6 SEPA)

Ok you guys! I bought it as a potted plant so I've never really seen the roots. Its going in a really sunny spot with lots of masonry for thermal mass, so I'm not too concerned about being late. Thanks. Looks like Sunday will be the day.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2007 at 8:37PM
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hostaholic2 z 4, MN

You're not to late, I'm in zone 4 and have successfully divided and planted bare root peonies through the end of Sept.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2007 at 6:24PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

I usually wait until the foliage starts dying down. Then you chop it off, and deal with the roots rather like dahlia tubers. Around here, that means moving in October, and it will be later where you are. There is very much a bareroot peony season here, when some of the local nurseries are selling them that way. We aren't there yet.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2007 at 7:13PM
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mxk3(Zone 6 SE MI)

Now is a good time to do it.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2007 at 11:09AM
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shapiro(5a Ontario)

Remember full sun and don't bury it too deep, otherwise it won't bloom.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2007 at 5:20PM
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Beware ! Don't transplant the whole clump right away.
Peonists advise to split the clumps into pieces holding 2 to 3 "eyes" (or stalks) each, not more, and to plant them one foot apart.
If you don't split it, you might have to wait many years before it blooms again, or even never see any bloom again.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2007 at 11:32PM
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Uh-oh! It's Nov. 2 here in Portland, Oregon, and I have a bed full of very old (50-70 yrs) peonies that REALLY need to be divided and transplanted. These are peonies my great-grandfather planted-- he was a collector, apparently. I want to move them into a different bed and use their present area for veggies. Should I transplant them now or wait till spring? I don't mind if they don't bloom for a year or two.


    Bookmark   November 2, 2007 at 12:13PM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

Fall is the time to transplant peonies, not spring, but even in Portland, I think Nov is too late.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2007 at 6:06AM
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It's not too late. In the Portland area (and much of the rest of the PNW), fall gardening chores can be conducted throughout the winter, as the soil never freezes and generally remains at a temperature level that encourages root development. I've planted entire perennial borders in mid December without problems.

IME, there are a lot of myths that surround growing peonies that are simply not founded in practical evidence. One is that they are difficult to transplant. While the plants can sulk for a season and may produce no or limited flowers, they should be back to good flower production rapidly. I've moved them many times, frequently without division (they seldom ever require it unless you are attempting to increase your supply) only to have them bloom on schedule the following spring. And you can transplant them in spring if necessary, but run a very high risk of skipping that bloom season. The only real truth is that planting them deeply will affect blooming - the eyes should be no more than an inch below the soil surface.

Peonies are extremely long lived perennials - 100 year old plants exist - and they can grow, flourish and bloom with minimal attention once established. It is not uncommon to find these vererable plantings on old homesteads or abandoned farms that bloom profusely each season without any human intervention.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2007 at 7:31AM
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terrene(5b MA)

Fall may be the preferred season for transplanting peonies, but I have transplanted them in the Spring. In the Spring of 06 I moved 8 small-med peonies that were growing in mostly shade in the middle of Vinca minor. They all sulked for the entire gardening season that year. I lost one of them but 3 out of the 7 bloomed this past Spring. Apparently, they even survive the dreaded Spring transplant. :)

    Bookmark   November 4, 2007 at 9:35AM
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I just dug up a huge 10 year old peony that gets at least 6' tall and is too tall to stake. Last year I rigged up something really tall and strong, but it was too big to conceal and looked really stupid. I decided that this spring I was going to ditch it and replace it with a single or a semi-double.

So I just dug it up but now I can't seem to throw it away. I divided it into too small sections (I got carried away). Most of the divisions have 2-3 eyes. I figur I can donate it to a plant sale or give to a friend or family member.

If I pot them up now, will they root quickly so they can be easily transplanted later in the season? Or do I dry them and store them and give them as tubers in the fall? Most of the eyes are about 1 - 1 1/2" and have not opened up at all.

Because I made my divisions so small, can I combine 3 in a pot?

I probably should have researched this a bit before I ripped them up. I don't know if I did it right. I might have ripped out tubers that had immature eyes that I couldn't see.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2008 at 2:59PM
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lcdesign(6 SEPA)

Here's the outcome of the origin of this thread. When I dug up that peony it had a HUGE ball of intertwined tubers. I took my time and separated what I could, planted them the end of Sept. I didn't expect much, but lo and behold I've got 6 or 7 plants coming up! Thanks everyone.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2008 at 3:45PM
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mxk3(Zone 6 SE MI)


    Bookmark   April 21, 2008 at 5:56PM
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Pieter zone 7/8 B.C.

I'll go you one further... last year I purchased a couple of bags of bare root peonies @ Costco. They were potted up, but NONE showed any top growth, yet when I checked the tubers in the fall they were all fleshy and firm rather than rotted. This spring not only hope sprung eternal, but also these Peony tubers, must of them a decent size too. Don't think I'll see any of them bud up and flower, but I can wait another year....

    Bookmark   April 22, 2008 at 9:40AM
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wendyb Pot them up individually in one gallon to three gallon depending on root mass. They will be in good condition to plant in the fall into the garden. Even if you have some divisions where no buds are seen there is a good chance buds will grow if you have a good sized root with some crown material. Al

    Bookmark   April 23, 2008 at 9:32AM
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Thanks Al. I sure wish I had not cut them so willy-nilly and kept more root mass and tubers. I just had an urge to untangle them. I hope they bloom next year. I ended up with 7 pots (four 1 gals, 2 quarts and one 2 gal). As I looked real real real close, I saw more tiny eye "nubs" in the divisions, so I'm optimistic. I guess I will have to keep one of the divisions myself so I can observe and learn.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2008 at 10:52PM
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i had to dig up 60yr old peonies yesterday from western ky. i live in south central ark. they were huge with tubers tangled,some falling away,underneath were tubers alone.last the spring i had to move the last 2 of my great-great grandmother's,they came up this yr.but did not bloom. 3yrs.ago i bought half dead plants in july and they bloomed the next yr. this bed gets sun,some shade. i need to know how to divide, plant the tubers that were alone under the plants and what to had to the soil. and the best locations. my greats,seem to want to burn easily, and i water daily. thank you. i love them but have no knowledge.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 11:33AM
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continuing on my peonies, i do not think they've bloomed for awhile. they were ny aunt's and it was now or never, the bed was going to be destroyed. if i pot them till sept. what soil consistency? they will get 3/4 sun. my great's had not bloomed in yrs. because of no sun. i'm hopeful they will nest yr. these of my aunt's i do not know what kind just there are whites,pink doubles.i probably need to fix another bed for overflow. i do not even know how for to space them,except to go by what she had. thank you

    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 11:48AM
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I had to dig part of my peonies to make room for something else - June. In digging I broke some of the roots, and some have hollow places in them. Does it matter that I broke them, does it matter that they are hollow? Can I replant them now?

    Bookmark   June 17, 2011 at 9:10AM
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