As I was wrapping things up in the garden in September I remembered that I had wanted to add some variety of red peony to the south side. Fragrance is a priority for me so I was trying to choose between Diana Parks and Philippe Rivoire. I decided on Diana Parks but at $24.00/root I only bought one. I also ordered some California Firecrackers to fill in the little gaps in my ground cover. I always want more Festiva Maxima peonies, but since I have some already I don’t need to spend any money to have more. I just have to dig.
The great thing about peonies is that you can divide the roots every few years and have a never ending supply of them. Since I had planted 5 or 6 Festiva Maxima a few years ago, I dug up two of my biggest clumps and divided them. From two clumps I ended up with 7 plants total. I’ll do the same later with Diana Parks. Next year I’ll try Philippe Rivoire and do the same. Maybe I’ll become the “crazy peony lady” and sell them from my back yard.
How to Divide and Propagate Your Herbaceous Peonies
- Be careful and go slowly digging up the peony roots. They tend to spread out rather than root down so start digging at the drip line of last year’s foliage. No need to wait until the foliage is completely gone – they will be dormant before that happens. It’s okay to dig them up in late September on through October depending on where you live.
- Keep the roots intact as much as possible. After you’ve got them out of the ground, use a sprayer to get all of the dirt off and out of the crevices and let the roots dry out overnight. The root will harden slightly and become easier to cut.
- Once you’ve got the roots all cleaned up you can clearly see there is an eye of new growth on either side of last year’s stems. Don’t damage or remove the eyes or you’ll lose some of next year’s growth.
- Get a good look at the root from every angle, including upside down, before dividing the roots with a knife. Make sure there will be eyes on each piece of the divided root ball.
- Using a sharp clean knife, divide the root ball. The roots are tangled so you may need to do a little gentle untangling to keep the big parts intact.
- Once you’ve got each new peony separated, trim the roots to stimulate new growth before replanting. Replant the newly divided roots so that the top of the root where the eyes are is not more than 2 inches under the soil.