Question: I have a flower bed in a spot that gets morning sun, and I want peonies in my garden. Can I plant them now?
Yes, early spring is a good time to plant peony rhizomes. They can also be planted in the fall. Once they’re established, peonies are finicky about being moved, so it’s a good idea to make sure the new flower bed is in good shape before you put them in the ground.
Peonies prefer a spot in full sun or with light afternoon shade, with good drainage, and away from the roots of trees and shrubs that would compete for water and nutrients. They can be susceptible to powdery mildew, so make sure they are not crowded and there is good air circulation in the bed.
Work plenty of organic matter and a high-phosphate fertilizer into the soil, and set the roots 1 inch deep.
Peonies may not bloom the first year they are planted, but they should bloom every year after that.
In the garden this week
It’s spring in Middle Tennessee (Zone 7a on the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone map, where The Garden Bench calls home). Here are a few late-March tasks on our gardening to-do list:
- Replenish mulch around roses, azaleas and other shrubs.
- Dig and divide, hardy mums, daylilies that have gotten too crowded.
- Set out transplants of herbs that can stand up to a few more chilly days: parsley, cilantro, sage, chives, oregano are among the garden and kitchen favorites.
- Trim buddleia or cut it back before new leaves emerge.
- Last chance to mow over winter-browned liriope; new shoots are beginning to come up from the roots.