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Peony Tubers – Identify Viability, When To Divide & More

Peony Tubers – Identify Viability, When To Divide & More

Peonies, native to North America, Europe, and Asia, are a diverse group of flowering plants with over 33 species to choose from when creating a garden. You will have no trouble finding the ideal type for your garden.

The hardy plants grow back easily since they store a lot of energy in their tubers. These stored resources give them a good head start in the spring.

Will broken peony tubers grow? A peony tuber can grow into a whole plant as long as the growing points (eyes) on the neck of the tuber are intact and it has a few roots on it. Unless the tuber is severely damaged or the neck is missing, there’s a good chance that it will grow when you plant it in the soil and water it. 

It takes some experience to tell the difference between a healthy peony tuber and one that is too damaged or rotten.

Read more to find out how to identify and save a broken peony tuber and nurture it back to life.

Understanding Peony Tubers

Peony tubers are practically the most important part of the plant.

Even if the foliage is damaged or the whole crown is mangled badly, as long as you have fully developed tubers in the soil, you can start a new plant or more whenever you like.

The key is to store those tubers properly and plant them at the right time.

Do You Have To Dig Up Peonies for Winter?

Peonies enjoy and thrive in cold weather, so you don’t have to dig them up for the winter. If anything, the cold winter is essential for their survival.

In general, peonies need up to 1,000 hours of cold temperatures ranging from 32 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit every year.

If you’re worried about frigid winter conditions, cover the peonies with burlap and mulch the soil.

Signs of a Healthy Peony Tuber

A healthy peony tuber has a neck with 3 to 5 eyes (growing points) and a few roots on the other end. The average tuber is about 6 inches long and 1 inch thick.

It shouldn’t have cuts or scars on the surface that could lead to fungal infections. It has dark yellow skin and feels firm in your hand.

If the tuber is brown, looks withered, or has a soft texture, it’s not healthy, and you should get rid of it.

How Many Eyes Per Tuber

The peony tuber only needs one eye to grow a stem and develop into a full plant. However, the more eyes the tuber has, the better the chances of success.

A good peony tuber should have between 3 and 5 eyes on the neck. If the eyes are missing or not developed yet, then the tuber will not grow.

What if Roots Are Broken or Damaged?

The roots on the peony tuber are not crucial for the plant’s growth. As long as you have at least one eye on the tuber, you can grow a whole new peony plant even from a tuber fragment.

The only difference is that without roots hanging on the tuber, it will take longer for the tuber to develop new roots. A tuber with roots will grow faster.

Do You Have To Divide Peony Clumps When Transplanting?

You don’t need to divide peony clumps when transplanting them unless you want to grow new plants. In that case, you can divide the clump and plant each bud in its own pot.

Make sure the bud has the eyes intact and a few roots on the other end to speed up its growth. 

How Long Can You Keep Peony Tubers Before Planting?

It is recommended to plant peony tubers as soon as you dig them out of the soil or once they arrive in their package.

However, if you’re not ready to plant them yet, keep them in their package for up to 5 days. 

How Long Can Peony Tubers Be Stored?

If you need to store peony tubers, place them in the fridge in their original package. They will stay viable for up to three weeks. 

How Long Do Peony Tubers Take To Sprout?

Peony tubers are slow to sprout. They may take about a year to sprout and another year to develop full foliage and to flower. By the third year, the plants will establish.

Peony Planting Depth

Peony tubers should be planted close to the surface. The neck of the tuber should point up and shouldn’t be more than 1 inch below the surface of the soil.

If planted deeper than 1 inch, the tuber might not sprout properly.

Transplanting Peonies in Fall

If you want to transplant peonies, then you should do so in the fall. September is the ideal month for transplanting peonies.

Wait for the flowers to fade and the leaves to fall before transplanting the established plant. 

Transplanting Peonies in Summer

Summer is not the best time to transplant peonies. The plants will continue to grow throughout the summer, and transplanting them might disturb their growth cycle.

Transplanting Peonies in the Spring

If you want to transplant peonies in the spring, you should do so before the first growth signs emerge.

The plant is dormant throughout the winter and will come back to life in the spring. Time your transplanting before the spring growth.

When To Divide Peonies

If you want to divide peonies, then fall is the right time. By that time, the plant will have stored enough energy in the tubers, and you can safely dig them up and divide the clumps of tubers.

In general, peonies can be left in the soil for 50 years without dividing them.

How To Divide Peonies

After the flowers fade, the plant will redirect its resources to the tubers, which act as storage tanks. When the tubers are well developed and thick in the fall, you can divide your peonies. Here’s how to do it in easy steps.

  1. Start by cutting back the plant to about 1 inch above the ground. 
  2. Use a spade to dig around the drop line of the plant (the outer edge where the leaves fall to the ground).
  3. Loosen up the soil, and avoid nicking the tubers.
  4. With the spade, dig under the roots.
  5. Hold the stems, and try to loosen the peony out of the hole. If it doesn’t come out easily, do more digging and loosening of the soil under the roots.
  6. Wash the dirt off the clumps of tubers with a hose.
  7. Identify the growing buds. They look like pink eyes.
  8. Use a sharp and sterilized knife to cut through the clump separating the sections. Leave 4 to 5 eyes on each section.
  9. Spread the cut tubers on a paper towel in a cool and dry place for a few days. The cuts will form calluses, which will protect them against mold when you plant them.

Related Questions:

Should Peony Eyes Be Above Ground?

The eyes on the peony tuber should be 1 inch under the soil. If planted deeper than 1 inch, they might not sprout.

When To Transplant Peonies in Zone 7?

In Growing Zone 7, you should transplant peonies when they go dormant. This could be in late September or early October.


Peony tubers will sprout as long as they have 3 to 5 eyes and the body of the tuber is healthy and firm. If the tuber is too damaged or missing the eyes, it will not grow.