Peonies are one of the most beloved perennials, but they always seem to come on quickly and end quickly. They’re also often victims of early summer storms which, despite our best efforts to stake and support our graceful plants, can do major damage.
Our readers have shared some of their favorite tips for for extending the life of their blooms and we hope you’ll find them helpful too!
For immediate bouquets . . .
Rachel in Pittsburgh, PA tells us that when cutting flowers for bouquets, it’s best to cut them in the morning when they’ve had the benefit of the nighttime dew and their stems are carrying the maximum amount of water.
For long lasting bouquets, pick your peonies when they feel like a marshmallow and are just beginning to show a bit of color. If you need to pick them later, do it when the bud covers are loose and the flower is beginning to burst open.
Storing for later use . . .
One of the wonderful things about peonies is that they can be cut at the bud stage and then stored for several weeks (or longer) for use later in the season. this method just requires a little extra space in your refrigerator. Our readers sent us a few different suggestion as to how to best do this, and all are relatively simple. In all cases, peonies should be cut before they’re open, when they feel as soft and squishy as a marshmallow with a bit of color showing.
Charlotte Lyons, a crafter whose creative repertoire includes a happy mix of design, crafts and art also has a love for peonies. She’s suggested that for short-term storage, place your stems in a jar or vase containing a few inches of water and store in your refrigerator until you’re ready to display them.
For longer term storage, the dry storage method works best and there are several ways to do this. Regardless of the method, remove all the leaves first.
- Bunch the stems together place in a 2-gallon Ziploc bag and lay them flat on the refrigerator shelf. Check them periodically to make certain there’s no moisture build up in the bag (if so, they’ll get moldy). If you notice an excess of moisture, open the bag and either leave it open to vent a bit, or place paper towels in under the stems and change regularly if they continue to get wet.
- If you only have a few stems, rather than bagging them, you can wrap them entirely in plastic wrap, from the bud to the bottom of the stem, sealing both ends.
- Many seasoned gardeners also swear by the simple method of wrapping them “head to toe” in damp newspapers and storing them horizontally in the refrigerator.
Plan ahead . . .
Peonies take at least 24 hours to open – more so if they’ve been stored for any length of time, so plan a bit ahead if you plan on using them to add a bit of graceful beauty to a special event.
Sandy in Michigan reminds us that it’s important to cut the stem with sharp pruners or a knife (not scissors which tend to crimp the stem) and place in warm water which travels up the stem more quickly than cold.
And finally, Barbara in Vermont sent this helpful hint: when she expects a heavy rain during the time when her peonies are in full bloom and are particularly heavy, she places umbrellas on stakes and uses them to protect the peonies from damaging rain!
For more in depth information on growing peonies, check out the The Old Farmer’s Almanac’s peony post.