It’s peony season—time to add a brilliant splash of color to your home.  Peonies are beautiful flowering plants which bloom in late spring and early summer.  They are popular every year, but this year they are trendier than ever.  There are dozens of species (scientists aren’t sure exactly how many—it could be as many as 40!), and peonies come in numerous different colors: white, orange, yellow, red, pink, and even lavender.  Many peonies even have more than one color of petal.  Peonies season doesn’t last long, so take advantage!
Pink Peonies
Whether you are cutting peonies from your own backyard or ordering a beautiful bouquet from a florist online, you need to know how to care for cut peonies to make them last as long as possible.  Here’s what to do!

When to Buy Your Peonies

It is best to purchase or cut your peonies when they are still in the bud stage.  Why?  If you purchase peonies that are already in full bloom, they will look great right from the start, but they will wilt within a few days or less.  This may work fine if you have to grab a bouquet fast for a dinner party tomorrow night, but if you aren’t in a rush, it is better to start with the buds.

After You Buy Your Peonies …

  1. Immediately after your peonies are delivered, get them and remove the paper they are likely wrapped in.
  2. Get a vase or similar container and fill it with 3-4 inches of water at room temperature (unless it is quite warm where you are; then make sure the water is at least slightly cool).
  3. Add a packet of flower food to the water if you have one.  Otherwise, you will have to change the water every few days to keep it fresh.
  4. Take a look at your stems.  Cut half an inch or an inch off of each with floral sheers.  Keep the stems on the long side.  Make sure you do this at a diagonal angle.  This angle maximizes the surface area of the stem which is exposed to water, making it easy for the plant to take in as much as it needs.  If you find any leaves on the stems which will be under the water level, remove them so they don’t rot.  Note that it is best to do this step in the morning or evening when it isn’t too hot.
  5. You want the peonies to stand upright in your vase.  If you have trouble managing this, you can wrap the paper back around them again for a few hours.  This will help them draw in more water during this crucial period.  After that, the upright position is not as important, and you can take the wrapping back off.
  6. Place the vase with the peonies somewhere they will be out of direct sunlight or drafts.
  7. The blooms will begin to open over the next few days.  Some species open quickly, while others may take several days.  The warmer the temperature of the room, the faster the blooms will open.  In fact, if you want to delay cut peonies from opening, you can store them in the fridge for a while (I will explain that shortly).
  8. Peonies drink a lot of water.  As a result, you will need to regularly replenish the water.  Plus, you want to keep it fresh.  Every two to three days, empty out what is in there and add fresh water.  You can continue to trim half an inch off the bases of the stems with each new watering.  This will help the peonies to live longer.  Cleaning the vase when you do this can help as well.  If you have a chance, go out and buy that plant food now.  It will really help to keep the peonies nourished.


Refrigerating Cut Peonies

If you do not want your peonies to bloom right away (maybe you want to save them for a while for a special occasion), you can put them in a dry spot in your fridge.  Keep them wrapped in the paper they came in, and away from fruits and veggies, which produce ethylene gas.  This gas will age your blooms.  Peonies can be stored out of water this way for up to a week if they are still in the bud stage.
What if you have already cut the stems and put them in the vase, and realize you need to slow things down?  You can put the vase in the fridge as it is.  Again, avoid fruits and vegetables.  If necessary (for space reasons), you can take them out of the vase again, dry them off, and wrap them back up and store them in the fridge that way.  Make sure they are completely dry, or they will rot.  You can then take them out and put them back in the vase when you are ready.

Speeding Up the Bloom Process

If you need your blooms to open fast, you can do that too!  Take off as many of the leaves as you can get away with, then fill the vase with six inches of warm water (not hot water).  Cut the stems and place them inside, then put the vase in a warm room (again, not hot).  If you need to, when the blossoms start to open, you can gently help them by hand.  Only touch the calyx and outer petals.
Now you know exactly what to do to keep your peonies beautiful and blossoming as long as possible!  Not sure where to buy peonies?  The best place to look for peonies for sale is online (hint, hint!).  There you will find access to the largest selection, with peonies of every species and color!  You can also order fast delivery.  The peonies will arrive right on your doorstep.  It doesn’t get easier or more convenient than that!  Have fun, and enjoy your spring and summer peonies for as long as they last!
May 26, 2015 — Mark Kubala