How to Care for Peonies
Peonies hit their peak in May and June, but these peony care tips will help your peony bouquet or arrangement live long into summer.
In spring and summer, pretty flowers seem to pop up on every street corner, but peonies have a special allure. A peony paper flower might look nice, but few things are as pretty as a real peony bouquet or peonies in a vase, and even amateurs just learning how to make flower arrangements can put peonies to good use in their centerpieces and vases. (Learning how to keep cut flowers fresh can help them survive a few spring soirees and summer cookouts.) Peonies aren’t year-round flowers, which makes their beauty even more special: “Peonies are planted in early April and the harvest usually starts around the beginning of May,” says Callie Bladow, production director at BloomThat. “We get to see these beauties until mid- to end-of-June.” To practice responsible peony care, scroll on for Bladow’s tips on everything you need to know about choosing, arranging, and caring for peonies.
Start With the Right Blooms
“Buy peonies fresh cut from a grower or at your local flower mart when they are still very closed—about the size of a golf ball,” Bladow says. “Green petals will still be visible on the peony bulbs.” As for the color choices, pick whichever ones speak to you—peonies come in every hue, including pink, peach, yellow, red, and white.
Prep the Flowers
Once you bring your peonies home, you’ll want to prep them as soon as possible. “Cut the stems about ½-inch on a diagonal and remove all leaves from the stem that will touch the water,” Bladow says. If the peonies look a bit closed, you can massage the tops of the flowers, which will encourage them to open. “Push back the outer green covering and outer petals to help the peony start to open,” she says. “Use your thumbs and apply the same amount of pressure that you would when you’re giving a shoulder rub. Just be careful not to break the bud off of the stem.”
If you’re planning to arrange later, Bladow suggests wrapping the peonies in newspaper and storing them in the refrigerator (preferably at about 37 degrees F). Another option is to wrap them in a floral cellophane bag (or if they already came in a similar bag, you can leave them there), put the stems in a tall vase filled with water, and refrigerate.
Be mindful that peonies have heavy flower heads. “They have sturdy stems, so you can make a grid with the stems that will support more peonies in one vase without all of them falling out,” Bladow says. “To make a grid with the stems, simply crisscross them over each other when you’re placing them in the vase.” When arranging, be careful not to pull the bottom petals off, since they provide much of the support for the heavy flower head.
Peonies look good on their own, but you can also add other flowers to your arrangement. Just avoid anything sharp, like thistle, because it might damage the peony petals.
Keep Them Hydrated
Fill the vase with room temperature water and make sure it covers three-quarters of the stem. “Change the water about every other day and add a little extra flower food at the same time,” Bladow says. (If you don’t have flower food, a half-teaspoon of cane sugar will do the trick). “Each time you change the water, you should re-cut the stems on an angle to maximize vase life.”