Peonies are the "aristocrat" of the perennial garden with their showy profusion of beautiful flowers. They are long-lived, reliable, and make good cut flowers.
Why divide peonies?
If your peonies are growing and blooming well where they are planted, there is no need to divide them. However, over time, peony clumps can become overgrown and "tired". They may begin to produce fewer and fewer blooms. These older peonies will benefit from dividing. Digging and dividing is a great way to rejuvenate these wonderful plants.
When is the best time to divide peonies?
The best time to divide peonies is in September or October after they have begun to go dormant. When the foliage had begun to turn yellow and then brown, they can safely be dug and divided.
How do I divide my peony?
- First cut the stems back and then carefully dig around and under the peony keeping as much of the root system as possible. Be sure to dig a wide circle so you avoid cutting through the roots.
- Gently remove the soil from around the roots and the eyes. Be very careful not to break or damage the eyes as these will become the flowering stems for the spring season. One of the easiest and "safest" ways to clean the roots is to wash soil out of the clump with a garden hose.
- Use hand shears to cut the old stems all the way back to the root.Again, be careful not to damage the new buds that have formed.
- You will notice 2 sizes of buds or "eyes" on the roots after the soil is washed off. The large, fat, sometimes pinkish eyes will produce the blooming stems for next spring. The very small white eyes are vegetative eyes and will produce the stems and flowers the following spring.
- Cut the clump into divisions with at least 3-5 blooming eyes each and a good root system. This will provide a blooming plant in a shorter time. Peonies will often not bloom in the first spring after they have been divided.
- To help with disease and insect control, dip the peony roots in a 10% bleach solution (1 part bleach to 9 parts water) and then let them dry before replanting.
- Replant the divisions in an area that receives full sun.
- Dig a generous hole and amend the soil with Espoma Plant-tone, rock phosphate, and Greensand according to the label dirtections.
- Be sure to place the plant with the eyes facing up and plant so the eyes are no more than 1"-2" below the soil surface. Peonies will not bloom well if they are planted too deep.
- Do not mulch peonies as this can cause crown rot.