Quick Tip :
While there are many different varieties of peony's to choose from, here in North Texas it's recommended to go with an early blooming variety so as to not risk the peonies blooming cycle to be affected by our quick to rise summer temperatures.
Tip 1: Peony roots can come in many shapes and sizes.
The size of the root doesn't necessarily correlate with total plant potential, however the more nodes a root contains the more shoots it'll send up and therefore have a bit of a jump start over roots with just a singular node. You usually have no choice of how many nodes your roots will have when they come in, the roots featured below came out of the same bag. The photos below also show the difference between a root with a singular node and one that has 4-5. The ideal planting time for these roots is late fall or early winter here in North Texas.
Tip 2: Location is key
Just to be clear in this article we're talking about herbaceous garden peonies (hardy in zones 3-8) that prefer full sun and not tree peonies (hardy in zones 5-9) that prefer dappled shade. When choosing the spot for your peonies keep in mind that they don't appreciate the hot western sun that we have in Texas but at the same time need at least 6 hours of direct sun. There are multiple solutions for this. Planting them on the eastern side of your home for example or in my case planting taller annuals on the western side of the peonies. The annuals will act as shade as the afternoon wears on.
Tip 3: Proper Preparation
The first thing to remember when unpacking your peonies is to go ahead and set them into a clean bucket with room temperature water. This will re hydrate the roots if they've been sent in dry packaging material. I usually do this for 2-4 hours but a little more or less won't hurt them. While they're soaking you can go ahead and prep the spot that you're going to plant your peonies in. First thing is to dig a hole 12-18 inches deep and about the same width. Next you'll want to back fill your hole with compost/manure, any soil amendments you might want to add and the native soil. This gives your new peony root lots of loose soil and nutrients to thrive on in it's first year.
Tip 4: Don't Plant too Deep
A very underrated but important thing to remember when planting your peony roots is that the nodes/buds need to be exposed to cold weather, the way that we're going to accomplish that is by having them only about 1 inch under the surface of the soil. This will ensure that they're still getting those chilly nighttime temps. It'll feel odd but trust the process. Once planted, water your roots in thoroughly and feel proud that you've started the process of growing one of the most gorgeous plants that this world has to offer.