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A sunny or partly shady site is ideal for garden peonies. Protection from afternoon sun and from harsh winds will help to prolong the lives of the exotic flowers. Peonies will perform best in well-drained, evenly moist, rich soil with a pH near neutral and they are drought-tolerant once established. Though peonies may be slow to develop their deep, substantial root system, once established, peonies can live 50 years or more.
Early blooming peonies typically start their bloom season a few weeks after the last frost. Late season bloomers are budding about 30 to 45 days later.
Peony over fertilized can be prevented with good soil preparation. In a sunny, well-drained location with good soil: cultivate and mix an inch or two of compost. Add an inch of compost mulch every fall, and never use commercial fertilizer.
In a bed or border, allow 3 to 4 feet for each plant. Do not plant too close to trees.
Anticipate slow growth the first year or two. Stems may only reach half the mature height, and if they produce buds, the flowers may not look just like the pictures. The number of stems usually doubles each year, with good bloom production by the third year. Peonies may reach their mature full size after about six years, and have been recorded to live over 100 years old.
UPON RECEIPT OF YOUR PEONIES, if they appear dry, soak roots in water for up to 6 hours. They can be repacked in the packing material and stored in a cool, dark place for a week or two, if necessary. If planting is delayed, temporarily heel them in a trench.