Dividing Peony Plants - Tips On How To Propagate Peonies

Pink Peonies
(Image credit: Steve Cornelius)

If you have been moving things around in your garden and have some peonies, you might wonder if you find the little tubers left behind, can you plant them and expect them to grow. The answer is yes, but there is an appropriate way of propagating peony plants that you should follow if you expect to be successful.

How to Propagate Peonies

If you have been considering propagating peony plants, you should know there are some important steps to follow. The only way to multiply peony plants is to divide peonies. This might sound complicated, but it's not. First, you need to use a sharp spade and dig around the peony plant. Be very careful not to damage the roots. You want to be sure to dig up as much of the root as possible. Once you have the roots out of the ground, rinse them vigorously with the hose so they are clean and you can actually see what you have. What you are looking for are the crown buds. These will actually be the part that comes through the ground after planting and forms a new peony plant when you divide peonies. After rinsing, you should leave the roots in the shade so they soften up a bit. They will be easier to cut. When you are propagating peony plants, you should use a strong knife and cut the roots all the way back to only about 6 inches (15 cm.) from the crown. Again, this is because the crown grows into the peony and dividing peony plants requires a crown on each piece you plant. You will want to make sure each piece has at least one crown bud. Three visible crown buds is best. However, at least one will do. You will continue to divide peonies until you have as many peonies as you can get from the roots you originally dug up. Plant the pieces in a location suitable for growing peonies. Make sure the buds on the pieces are not more than 2 inches (5 cm.) under the soil or they may have trouble growing. If the temperatures are fairly even, you can actually store your pieces in peat moss until you are ready to plant them on a warmer day. Don't store them too long or they may dry out and won't grow. So now you know that propagating peony plants isn't too terribly difficult, and so long as you have one good peony plant to dig up, you can be dividing peony plants and create many in no time.