Peony root

Peonies are true garden gems and one of the plants we often have fond memories of. But when we move house and want to take our herbaceous peony with us, someone always comes along and says, "Careful! You can't transplant peonies! Fortunately, we no longer believe in old wives' tales about evil woodpeckers and magic spells. Like all perennials, herbaceous peonies can be transplanted, as long as a few rules are followed. A herbaceous peony does not have wooden stems.


Autumn is preferred, otherwise winter if it is not freezing.


A sharp and clean spade or digging fork or both.

A garden hose connected to water.

A medium-sized knife and pruning shears, both clean, sharp and disinfected with 70% alcohol.

Optional: A tarpaulin to protect your lawn.


1.Use the pruning shears to cut the stems (1) back to 10 cm; the remaining stems can be used as handles, but take care not to break them. Discard the cut stems.

2.Dig up the root (2) with the digging fork or spade or both! Place the root on the tarpaulin.

3.Give the peony a shower and gently remove the soil with the garden hose. Also remove any weeds that have crept in between! After washing you will see shiny pink buds (3) appear, these are the eyes. The larger ones will become the stems the next spring.

4.Use your knife to divide the peony root. Make sure that each division has several healthy roots with large, fresh pink eyes firmly attached. This is the tricky part, think before you cut! Discard the old and diseased parts.

5.Remember to label your masterpieces.

Healthy fresh roots are white inside and crunchy. The most vigorous growth and flowering are the young, strong divisions. Plant them in their favourite spot, always burying the eye tips 3cm deep in temperate climates and 5cm deep in cold climates. They need frost to flower the following year. Do not mulch unless you live in a harsh (polar) climate, and even then it is questionable whether you should cover your peony all year round.  Click here for more planting advice.


Autumn is the time when the peony produces its hair roots, which are its guarantee for the future. The new roots will anchor the young plant. They will also provide nutrients and moisture in the event of drought next spring. When mature, the roots can reach 50 cm from the centre. A bare-root peony planted in the autumn in a well-prepared spot is self-sufficient. Peonies in our production fields are not watered.

If the roots and eyes are healthy and vigorous, your peony will probably produce some small flowers next spring. If it is recovering from a stressful situation, it may take a season or so longer.

Good luck!