Peony Tuber Planting & Growing Guide

Your peony tuber shipment will include a planting and growing guide from Barnswallow & Co. LLC. Until then here is a taste of the information we will provide!
Thank you, -Farmer Meredith


For those wanting to take more time in reviewing all that's peonies, please check out this great resource with The American Peony Society! 



Open your box immediately to check your tubers. Our tubers are packed by variety in pine shavings with a label. Condensation may form in the box/bag during transit. If you see this, you can open the bags slightly to let the trapped moisture out so your peony tubers stay in good condition prior to planting. 


Tubers will arrive with verified, tender eyes that are usually pink or white. They are a little fragile, so please be gentle with them, as that is what stem will emerge from through the soil. To see the eyes is totally normal this time of year. Some of your tubers may come with 3 or 5 eyes based on your purchase. Please validate those eyes prior to planting. They will arrive in a dormant state, ready for immediate planting.



Plant as soon  as possible into a prepared bed - if you need some time  they can be potted up into 1 gallon pots but this step is  unnecessary. If you cannot plant right away, store in a cooler until you are able. Only delay the process as long as absolutely necessary - the root health will decline the longer it is out of the soil


Peonies thrive in full sun and should be planted in a location that receives a minimum of 8 hours of sunlight a day. As long as the ground is workable (aka not frozen) it is safe to plant out the roots. Once the ground freezes, this creates issues with soil depth. If this happens, you may have to dig up your tubers in the spring and lift them. 


Netting and staking is not necessary when grown as a cut flower since the weight of the heads is not fully bearing prior to blowing open. If grown in a garden, support may be necessary as fully open flowers catch rain and can get quite heavy, often ending up laying on the ground or with bent stems. We recommend de-heading peonies after the blooming season. 


Spacing: 24 - 36 inches. Peonies prefer loose, fertile, well-draining soil. Neutral to slightly alkaline pH. Peonies benefit from soil that has been lightly amended with compost and granular fertilizer. Plant in full sun. Do not pinch. Peonies grow best if planted in the fall, but will still grow  well if planted in early spring while they are dormant and the temperatures remain cool as they establish new roots. Peonies take 120 or more days post planting. We recommend not harvesting flowers for three years after planting and removing buds to put energy into the tuber roots for the following years. 



Peonies require dormancy in order to prosper.  Planting where winter temperatures are low enough to complete dormancy is important.  Some peonies are better suited towards warmer zones than others, so please be mindful of that as your zone gets warmer. Check out the USDA Hardiness Zones . Zones 3-8 are generally acceptable for growing peonies. With shifts in climate change, please take more awareness in where and how you plant your peonies. 



We like to give our peonies a good watering in the fall prior to freeze. This insures the roots will have water once they thaw in the spring. This has been important in drought years at the farm. Otherwise, we do not have our peony crop on irrigation. 


Although peonies will survive in hardiness zones 3-8 they prefer and perform better in colder zones. They may struggle in zone 8 from the lack an extended cold winter. When planting the peony tubers, position them with the eyes facing upwards, and cover with no more than 1" of soil. Planting too deeply will encourage foliage to grow with few flowers. 



For the first 3 years after planting, we recommend not harvesting the flowers. THe flowers are less of an issue versus taking the foliage. Every leaf is important to the plant at this stage as they are photosynthesizing and helping the roots store nutrients for next years growth. It is for this reason that we suggest when harvesting flowers, only cut the stems as long as you need them and leave as much foliage on the plant as possible. At Barnswallow we simply pinch off the buds when they form. Post flowering, we recommend remove spent blooms so that the plant  doesn't expend valuable energy on unnecessary seed  production. At the end of the season, around the time of  the first frost, cut the plants back to the ground and dispose of the dead material to prevent any fungal or bacterial issues the following spring. We cut our peonies to the ground and place a half cup a granular fertilizer around the plant. 


We do not over-fertilize our peony plants, but do find that placing granular fertilizer around them both in the fall and after the spring blooming period really helps their vitality and stem strength. 



We harvest all our peonies in the soft marchellow stage. This is when the blooms are squishy and tend to give. Some varieties are more reviewling that others, not all are the same. The rule of thumb, if hard as marbles, they are not ready to harvest to need more time maturing on the stem. 



The American Peony Society (https://americanpeonysociety.org/learn/about-the-peonies/#planting)

Peony Diseases https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/gardens-gardening/your-garden/help-for-the-home-gardener/advice-tips-resources/visual-guides/peony-problems