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Dividing Your Herbaceous Peonies

You may choose to divide your herbaceous peonies if they are no longer thriving, if the site has become shady, if you want more, and (best of all) if you want to share with friends and family. There are two methods to divide a peony: 'pie-slice' and 'whole-plant'. This work should be done in the fall while or after the plant goes into dormancy for the winter. Herbaceous peonies will survive dividing if done in late winter, but they may perform poorly for years thereafter.
 
Note: It’s best to leave the foliage ON when digging up your plant.  This gives you something to hold on to.
 

Pie-slice Method

  • Using a spade, loosen a triangular section of your peony - just like a slice of pie. You want to have good roots going down, so dig down at least 8", preferably deeper than that. 
  • Gently continue to loosen and lift the pie-division out of the ground.  
  • Shake roots then spray with hose to remove any excess soil.
  • Remove foliage.
  • Divide the root into 3-5 eyed sections
  • Remove stringy or broken roots leaving only large, healthy roots about 6-8 inches long.

 

Whole-plant Method

  • Using a spade, dig a circular trench several inches deep around your plant and about 6-12" away from the stems.
  • Go around the plant again and now dig under the plant: have your spade at about a 45 angle.
  • Gently begin to lift the plant out of the soil.  If the peony is still stuck in the ground, go back and dig even further under the plant with spade angled in.  You want to dig up as much of the root as possible.
  • The plant will come out in one or more pieces (sometimes many). Once all the plant has been removed from the ground, spray the roots with a hose to remove excess dirt. 
  • Remove and dispose of any remaining root fragments from the hole as these will resprout in the coming years.
  • Divide the roots into 3-5 eyed sections.  If you have a large plant, you may end up with a lot of divisions. Gift your friends!
  • Remove stringy or broken roots leaving only large, healthy roots about 6-8 inches long.