How To Know if You Planted Your Peonies Too Deep

Peonies are absolutely stunning and a great addition to any garden. Gardeners and plant fanatics everywhere should make sure they’re planted correctly so they can thrive in their environment. 

Here are 5 signs that indicate you planted your peonies too deep:

  1. The bud is more than 1½ inches (3.81 cm) below the surface. 
  2. Your peonies aren’t blooming at the right time. 
  3. Your peonies aren’t progressively growing. 
  4. Your peonies aren’t budding or blooming at all.
  5. Your peonies are showing signs of decay.

In this article on peonies, I will discuss the above reasons in-depth of how individuals can determine if they have planted their peonies too deep. 

1. The Bud Is More Than 1½ Inches (3.81 cm) Below the Surface

Peonies are incredible, but they’re also very sensitive. Their sensitivities lead to specific requirements that gardeners must follow for a successful blooming season. Luckily, if success occurs once, it will continue to occur for many years. 

For a peony to bloom, it must be planted 1½ inches (3.81 cm) below the soil surface at most. It’s best to keep the peony eye bud close to the surface. Sometimes, only having ½ of an inch (1.27 cm) of soil on top of the bud is what works best. 

Peonies can grow if they’re planted two inches (5.08 cm) below the soil as well, but this is unlikely. Individuals should focus on this aspect when gardening so their peonies can thrive. 

Therefore, peonies don’t thrive when buried deep under the soil. In fact, they may not bud, even in positive conditions at times, because the soil can easily suffocate their roots and ability to rise. 

When planting a peony, individuals should take the following steps:

  1. Dig a hole 12-18 inches (30-46 cm) deep. Having room to plant your peony is valuable. Peonies do well with soft and loose soil. Additionally, owners can use this space to decide how deep their peony plant needs to go so the eye bud is close to the surface. 
  2. Make sure to measure accordingly. Before planting and covering up your peony with soil, make sure the measurements are correct. If not, re-planting may need to occur in the future, and this can push the budding process out. Remember, accuracy is key. 
  3. Confirm that the eye bud is close to the surface. This is the most important part of planting a peony. Peonies must be relatively close to the surface. If not, they will struggle to grow, even if they do end up budding.

2. Your Peonies Aren’t Blooming at the Right Time 

Gardening is a fun process, but it can also be a tedious one. Individuals may not know if they have planted their peony correctly until it buds and blooms. 

When it comes to planting flowers, timing is of the essence. Due to this, you should keep a watchful eye on your peonies to make sure everything is occurring in the right timing. 

As we know, peonies are sensitive plants and patience is a key factor in the gardening process of this flower. Peonies will not flower in the first year after gardeners plant them, so you shouldn’t worry if you don’t see any growth. However, it’s possible for peonies to bud within the first three years and sometimes flower. 

The main reason why it takes so long for peonies to bloom after planting is because they’re young and new to the soil. Therefore, they have to establish their roots first. This is also why planting shallowly is so significant. 

Nevertheless, you shouldn’t count anything out. Sometimes, peonies can surprise gardeners and they can bloom before their expected date. 

Gardeners can expect for their peonies to begin budding and flowering after three years of growth. Once they begin flowering, they will continue to flower for many years after. This makes the gardening process of this plant very rewarding for plant lovers. 

If your peonies aren’t blooming by the three year mark, you may have planted them too deeply. You can consult with an expert to help assist with this (if needed), or you can replant.  

3. Your Peonies Aren’t Progressively Growing 

When peonies begin to bloom, it’s a fantastic experience. Many gardeners love watching the growth process of peonies. However, sometimes one peony’s growth may appear different from another. 

Like most flowers, peonies grow at a slow pace and rapidly incline and bloom. The help of fertilizer is a great addition to this as well. But, gardeners should observe how their plant is growing. 

Sometimes there are signs that signal unhealthy roots in peonies. Most likely, this is from planting your peony too deep. 

When observing the growth of your peonies, it’s important to watch over the following: 

  • Make sure your peony’s roots are strong and vibrant. With any plant, it’s important to observe the roots and to make sure the foundation of the plant is strong. Without a great root system, your flowers may not grow properly. 
  • Confirm that your peony’s bud is vibrant in color and standing tall. Everyone loves to see peonies blooming, but budding comes first and is most important. If your flower’s buds look droopy or have a discoloration, something might be off with the soil. This is common if there is a lack of nutrients or suffocation from the soil. 
  • Make sure your plant’s growth is moving forward. Peonies are fun to observe, especially when they begin to bud and flower. However, sometimes this plant may start to grow and then halt due to a lack of nutrients, water, or compact soil. It’s important that individuals keep an eye on their peonies to confirm that this does not happen. 

4. Your Peonies Aren’t Budding or Blooming at All

Although peonies take a long while to bud and bloom, it’s still significant for owners to observe them as we now know. The initial planting process is essential for your peony’s potential. 

If your peony has been planted too deep, it may not bud or bloom at all. This can be very unfortunate for gardeners because the process for a peony to grow takes a long while to begin with. And, if peonies have been planted too deeply, the growth process may take up to six years for flowering to occur. 

Individuals should ensure that the measurements are correct before planting their peonies, and consistently watch over them. The smallest growth is important and valuable. 

Here are a few things to check on throughout each season: 

  • Check the condition of your peony’s soil. This is especially helpful in the beginning growth stages. The condition of your peony’s soil is important. Having nourished and moisturized soil is a positive sign.
  • Confirm that there is forward movement and growth. Even though it takes long to see growth in peonies, individuals should watch over their plants often and still care for them. Any bit of change and movement is important. 
  • Confirm that there is budding with your peonies, even if small. As mentioned above, any change and movement is positive. If budding occurs, even in the slightest amount, this is a positive sign.  
  • Compare one peony plant to another. Individuals can compare one peony to another to make sure there is positive growth. 

5. Your Peonies Are Showing Signs of Decay

Sometimes, planting your peonies too deep might not seem like a huge issue, especially if they’re growing and blooming as they should. But, symptoms can occur later on, which is why individuals should pay extra attention during the planting process. 

Planting your peonies too deep can lead to an unhealthy root system, and nutrients may not help your plants thrive. It’s common for soil to suffocate the overall health of peonies, and budding blast [“Why Did Your Peony Dry Up?”] can occur. 

As your plants are growing, look for the following signs for decay: 

  • Symptoms of a potential fungal disease. This is not very common, but it can happen. When the root system of a plant is not strong, it is easy for plants to attract fungal diseases and negative symptoms. Red, purple, or brown discoloration may occur in the leaves, stems, and buds of your plant. 
  • Your plant stops growing before or after blooming. This is a common symptom with bud blast. Additionally, the buds of your plant may turn brown and wilt. 
  • Your peonies have a discoloration or they’re blooming too fast. Sometimes peonies will grow quickly and they are smaller or a different color than they should be. This may be a clear sign that they were planted too deep. 

Key Takeaways 

Peonies are beautiful and grow fantastically when gardeners have planted and nourished them correctly. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Luckily, with the right knowledge and skill, individuals can give their peonies the proper care they need to thrive.

Here are a few things to remember: 

  • Consult with an expert before planting. 
  • Double-check your measurements.
  • Plant with loose soil near the surface.  
  • Hydrate and fertilize correctly. 
  • Have patience. 

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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