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Planting Peonies with Roy

Martha Stewart Living Television

With their grand, old-fashioned flowers, peonies are a true delight that will thrive in your garden for many years. Nursery owner and peony expert Roy Klehm uses two techniques for planting tree and herbaceous peonies.

Planting Herbaceous Peonies

Tools and Materials

  • Shovel
  • Compost or well-rotted manure
  • Peony rings or guards
  • Mulch
  • Complete garden fertilizer (not too rich in nitrogen)

Planting Herbaceous Peonies How-To

  1. In spring or fall, choose a sunny spot, and dig a hole large enough to accommodate the root systems of your plants. Amend soil with compost or well-rotted manure.
  2. Set peonies so that their eyes -- the small buds on the roots -- are on top and the crowns are on the bottom. The depth at which you should set plants depends on where you live: In the North, place plants so that their eyes are at least 2 inches below the soil surface; in the South, plant early-blooming varieties at a shallower depth.
  3. Firm soil around plants, adding extra soil if necessary, and water well. Support each bush with a peony ring or guard once shoots appear.
  4. To maintain peonies, protect new roots with mulch the first winter. Deadhead flowers to encourage new growth, and fertilize regularly in early summer, after flowers have bloomed and as new buds develop.

Planting Tree Peonies

Tools and Materials

  • Shovel
  • Compost or well-rotted manure
  • Mulch
  • Rose food

Planting Tree Peonies How-To

  1. In spring or fall, choose a bright but shady spot, and dig a large hole about 2 feet deep and 2 feet wide. Mix the soil from the hole with compost or well-rotted manure.
  2. Set your peony so that it's at the same level as it was in its container. If its roots are bare, make sure that the junction where the stem is grafted to the roots is well below the soil line -- about 5 inches -- to minimize the chance of reversion to the rootstock. Water your plants regularly, and mulch in winter. After three seasons, fertilize with a light dressing of rose food.

Learn more about Song Sparrow Perennial Farm.