Peonies in October

Yes, I'm doing further research on the subject of my last post.  In the meantime, please enjoy this post.


October is the month for peonies. If you want those beautiful flowers in May, this is the time for planting, or moving, them.

I wrote about peonies in another post, when they were blooming in the spring. They are my absolute favorite  flowers, but my peonies did not do well, this year.

Truth is, they had not been doing well for several years, and I was hesitant to move them.  The spot had become quite shady. That happens over 20 years, but  the peonies are much older than that.  They were old when we moved  here.

The peonies were one of the reasons we wanted this house. It's an unassuming  brick bungalow, a working class house, like the bungalows you can find all over Chicago or Berwyn. The proximity to the Blue Line, and the built-in bookcases on either side of the  (nonworking) fireplace  were really appealing  features, but it was the peonies that decided it for us. Yes, we said, yes.

There wasn't much in the back yard, then. The people who had lived there before the current owners had planted a  lilac bush under the bedroom window and some  dogwoods by the alley. There were no trees. But I could see along the fence on the south side, the ruby shoots of peonies.

The  peonies were blooming when we moved in over Memorial Day weekend, fat pink ones and one  bush with double-white flowers--Festiva Maxima, it's called.

Peonies can live a very long time.  These were at least 30 years old, then, so they must be over 50, now.  That seems to be the age people think about moving peonies. It can be a daunting project.

I knew I had to move the peonies, though. They were not thriving by the fence, where the neighbor's trees were shading them. Peonies need lots of sun!  Following the advice of the Peony Society and the Farmers' Almanac, I prepared  a new place for them.

Saturday, October 12,  I dug up the peonies. It was ideal weather, mild and overcast, which is good for yardwork and transplanting things.  There were  many clumps with healthy "eyes" which promise new growth in the Spring. The eyes should be covered  with no more than  2 inches of soil--planting depth is crucial.

Today, they look so happy in the sun. I know I did the right thing to move them.

So, I am watering them well, and  hope for the best. I will cover the bed with fallen leaves, to protect  the transplants over the winter. They may not bloom next spring, or  for several springs,  but I hope at least some of them come back.

The garden has changed over the years. My husband Harry and I added our own plants, too. Not all of them were successful, but there's a flowering almond bush, and  a hickory tree. There are sunflowers, chicory and beebalm, orange daylilies, ornamental autumn grasses.

Many things have changed. Where are the  leaves of past Octobers?  The ornamental grasses (his favorites) are blooming, again. It was a good day to move the peonies .



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Filed under: seasons, weather

Tags: October, peonies


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  • I've been thinking about what to plant now for spring! Hope your peony move works out well!

  • Dear Rachel--Thank you for reading, and your comments. By all means-- if you have a sunny spot, plant some peonies! You should plant them before the ground freezes, give them time to settle in. This weekend should be warmer. Do check out the Farmers' Almanac link, too. It's very helpful.

  • My father could never figure out why the peonies would not bloom. Apparently "planting depth is crucial" was not known then.

    On the weather beat, I wonder if your other observations are because it was Summer until Monday, when it suddenly became late November?

  • Dear Jack--Thanks for reading and your comments. Yes, planting peonies too deep is the main reason they don't bloom. Peonies also need lots of sun.

    Since I wrote this on Oct. 14, there's been quite a change in the weather. It may be a bit late for planting, now. Frost warnings overnight, even sightings of snow! But it's supposed to warm up some this weekend.....

  • Peonies are indeed strikingly beautiful. But they never seem to last long enough to really savor. I like them too when they first pop out of the soil; those early ruby sprouts are a welcome sight each Spring. Nice post, WG.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    AW, thank you for reading. Yes, those peony blooms don't last long, maybe that's what makes them so special. But it's those red shoots that I'm hoping to see come Spring!

  • Thanks, Weather Girl, for helping us remember that planning and dreaming can be part of the weather beat. I appreciate your positive attitude, even when it does take me a while to catch up on posts!

  • In reply to MargaretSerious:

    Dear MargaretSerious, many thanks for reading, and your encouraging words. Always appreciated....

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