Moving my Tree Peony ‘Kaoukamon Maroon’

When I spotted tree peonies for $24 at a small local plant shop in 2014, I snapped up one of each variety they had (they had two). I planted both in the potager and they started growing, slowly (they are a shrub after all, not an herbaceous peony). After a few years, I noticed the ‘Kaoukamon Maroon’ was struggling, the soil where it was planted just wasn’t good enough. It also needed a bit more afternoon shade.

‘Kaoukamon Maroon’ tree peony emerging in spring, the red foliage is a bright spot in spring!

I didn’t quite know what to expect from a tree peony in my cold climate, so I wasn’t sure if it was the climate or the location that was causing this plant to struggle a bit. I had always heard that tree peonies were difficult to move, so that thought didn’t really cross my mind until 6 years later when it was still very small. It was struggling so much that I figured I had nothing to lose and I may end up gaining a gorgeous plant!

I always try to take photos of new plants, including the tag and placement in the garden so I can remember what/where things are.
This tree peony bloomed, but sparsely and didn’t grow much in the few years I had in planted in the potager, likely it received too much sun and the soil wasn’t rich enough.

In its old location in the potager, this poor plant only produced one bloom each spring and it struggled to grow any taller than 18″ or so. Last spring I decided to move it up front under the old apple tree. This spot is much more sheltered and the soil is deep and rich. It’s also much shadier, although it has morning shade and afternoon sun (tree peonies like morning sun and afternoon shade). I don’t have a lot of shade in my garden, so this would have to be good enough.

Last year it slowly settled in and this year it’s THRIVING! Look at all those blooms!

I was a bit nervous about moving it, tree peonies are technically shrubs and they have large tap roots. I dug as deeply as I could in early spring before the leaves emerged. Last spring I cut off any buds that formed so the plant could put all its energy into developing a strong root system. I watered it well all summer and it rewarded me with a flush of blooms this spring (more than it’e ever produced before), I think 9-10 total. It is now thriving and loving the new location. I can’t wait to see what it looks like in a few more years!

I’m not really one for red flowers, but the flowers on this shrub are more of a maroon/purple.

I have another tree peony that may need moved as well, when we build out new house the potager will be oriented a bit differently. Hopefully that one will move with as much grace as this one did.

Do you have any tree peonies? Do you ever move plants around the garden? Any great tips?

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