When Is The Best Time To Divide Peonies In Your Garden?

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When Is The Best Time To Divide Peonies In Your Garden?

When Is The Best Time To Divide Peonies In Your Garden?

Pierre Suu/Getty Images

Dividing peonies is best done in the late summer or early fall, typically around September, depending on your climate, after the plants have finished flowering for the season. Dividing peonies every few years helps rejuvenate the plants and maintain their vigor. As peonies grow and mature, they can become overcrowded, leading to decreased blooming and overall health. Dividing them fosters new, healthy plants from the established ones. Furthermore, dividing peonies during the late summer minimizes the stress on the plants. As they naturally enter dormancy in the fall, they are less likely to suffer from transplant shock, allowing them to settle into their new positions more easily.

Dividing peonies in the late summer or early fall guarantees that they have enough time to establish their root systems before winter’s cold temperatures arrive and the plants become dormant. This helps ensure their survival during the harsh winter months, as the new divisions can establish themselves before facing the challenges of the colder season. In this way, you’ll encourage stronger growth and more blooms when spring arrives.

When to divide peonies

Pink peonies in a garden

Pierre Suu/Getty Images

Dividing peonies in your garden is generally safe when the plants have been well-established for at least three to four years. This time frame allows the peonies to develop a strong and healthy root system, ensuring they can withstand the shock of division. The best time to divide peonies is during their dormant season, which typically occurs in the fall after the foliage has turned yellow or in early spring before new growth begins.

In the following spring, the newly divided peonies may take some time to establish themselves and may not produce as many blooms as mature plants. However, with proper care and patience, the plants will gradually regain their vigor and eventually flourish. Regular watering, adequate sunlight, and well-draining soil are key to helping the newly divided peonies thrive. In about two years, the plants should recover fully and produce abundant blooms, similar to the original, undivided plant. With careful attention to your new flowers, you can successfully divide peonies and enjoy their beautiful, resilient flowers every few years to surround your home with their decadent blooms.

How to divide peonies

Dividing peonies requires careful attention to preserve the health of the plants. In late summer or early fall, when the peonies have finished flowering for the season, you may begin dividing them. To begin, clear the soil around the peony plant and water it a day before dividing to ensure the roots are well-hydrated. Use a spade or garden fork to carefully dig around the peony’s root ball, taking care not to damage the roots. Gently lift the entire plant from the ground. Shake off excess soil and carefully rinse the root system with water to get a clear view of the roots.

Once the roots are clean, use a sharp, clean knife or spade to cut the root ball into sections. Each division should have three to five healthy, pinkish-colored buds — eyes — and a good portion of the root system. Trim any damaged or dead roots and stems. Once you’ve finished dividing the peonies, replant each root division in a new location with well-draining soil and ample sunlight. Plant them at a depth of about 2 inches with the eyes facing upwards. After planting, water the new divisions thoroughly and add a layer of mulch around the base to retain moisture and protect the roots during winter. Keep the newly divided peonies watered during the fall season to help them establish their root systems before winter.

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Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.