The best time of year to plant garden peonies is in the fall. They will spend their first year getting established and will not be floriferous. However, once they've got their footing, the substantial, deep root system will help the plants tolerate drought. Peonies have been known to live 50 years or longer.
When choosing a planting site, be sure to choose a place where the peonies can remain permanently--they resent being moved once established. Full sun to partial shade is best, along with rich, well-drained soil of a neutral pH. Protection from the hot afternoon sun and harsh winds will help to extend the life of the flowers.
The biggest problem that home gardeners usually have is knowing how deep to plant the peony tubers (thick, fleshy roots). If planted too deep, they will not flower even if all of the other environmental conditions are favorable. The planting depth varies depending on where you live in the country. Here are a few general guidelines:
- The further north you go, the deeper peonies should be planted. In the far north, the eyes (round growth points at the top of the crown) should be planted at a depth of 2 inches.
- In more moderate climates, the planting depth can range between 1 and 1 1/2 inches.
- The further south you go, the shallower peonies should be planted. In the far south, the eyes should be planted at a depth of 1/2 inch.