Date: May 1989
Source: NDSU Extension Horticulturists
Fall is the time to purchase and plant peonies. When you choose them, consider the time of bloom, flower type and color. In North Dakota, the best time to plant peony roots is between September 1 and October 15. You can also plant in early spring using roots you have stored in dry peat moss or sand.
The gardener who plants peonies will have a beautiful display of flowers each spring. Peonies also have dark glossy green foliage that remains attractive from early spring until a killing frost.
To form a simple perennial border for all season color, plant peonies with spring-flowering bulbs, iris, day lilies, chrysanthemums and hardy asters. Peonies are also good background plants for low annual flowers. Plant peonies in well drained soil where they will get at least a half day of full sun. However, full sun, all day is preferable. Allow at least two feet between dwarf varieties and four feet between standard flowering varieties.
When you plant, cover peony roots so the "eyes" (pink buds) are pointing up and so the top of the roots are not more than one and one-half inches beneath the soil surface. Do not plant the roots too deeply. This is one of the most common causes for failure to bloom. apply a light mulch over peonies the first winter after planting. Use straw, leaves, or compost. apply it after the ground freezes in the fall.
The fastest and easiest method to propagate peonies is to divide the clumps. this should be done in spring or late summer. Peonies, however, do not have to be divided as regularly as other perennials. Most peonies will flower for years with little care if planted in a sunny area in rich, well-drained soil.
Additional information on this topic is included in the Extension bulletin H-281, entitled "Peonies", which is available at your local county extension office.
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