Peony Care and Handling

Peony Care and Handling


Peony season is here and if you follow us on Instagram, you can see that we’ve been all about these exquisite blooms! There is just something so special about peonies that they make people swoon!  It’s no wonder that it’s a favorite flower for gifts and weddings. We share our updated peony care and handling tips so you can maximize your enjoyment of these gorgeous blooms!

Peony Care and Handling - Bloomed Peonies

For those familiar with peonies, you’ll know that the best way to get them is when they are fresh cut and still in bud stage. The cut stage will vary by variety, so some peonies may arrive very closed, whereas others may be in a slightly open stage. Bud stage is how we ship all our peonies and it’s the best way to get them as it allows you to enjoy the full blooming process. If you get peonies that are already fully open, they will look gorgeous but will only last a few days at most.

Peony Care and Handling - Peonies in bud form

Do not be alarmed that our peonies ship with no water or moisture or ice pack. This is the BEST way to pack and ship peonies. Any moisture to the stems could mean that they’ll start to bloom while in transit and that is NOT what you want to happen. If they start blooming they’ll be more susceptible to damage and you don’t get to watch the process!

Wrapped Peonies - Just Arrived

Peony Care and Handling Tips:

So, if you’re lucky enough to get a bunch of these beauties, here are the steps to help you take the best possible care of your blooms:

  1. When peonies arrive, don’t be alarmed at how they look. They can sometimes be a bit ugly with closed buds and limp leaves, but don’t worry, they just need a little time and water and they’ll perk right up, so you’ll want to follow the rest of these steps ASAP! Peony Care and Handling - Bud Form
  2. Peonies will usually arrive wrapped in paper. Carefully remove and put the paper wrap aside. Peony Care and Handling - Unwrap Peonies
  3. Fill up a clean container or vase with at least 4” to 5” of room temperature water. Peony Care and Handling - Vase of clean water
  4. With sharp floral shears, cut at least 1½” to 2” (or more) off each stem at a diagonal and quickly place it in water. You’ll want to make sure you remove any foliage that falls below the water line. Don’t be afraid to cut down the stems so they fit the size of vase you’re using. Peony Care and Handling - Cut stems at angle
  5. After you’ve cut each stem, we recommend loosely re-wrapping the paper around the peonies. Depending on your container, you can wrap around the whole vase. This is not necessary, but wrapping around the peonies keeps them upright and enables them to hydrate better. Peony Care and Handling - Wrap and support stems
  6. You can remove the paper wrap after 3-4 hours.
  7. The rate at which the blooms open will vary and depend on a variety of factors. Some peony varieties (e.g., coral charm) open quickly, while others may take a few days to start. The temperature of the room they are kept in will also affect how quickly they open: warmer room = faster open rate.
  8. You’ll want to keep an eye on the water levels as peonies can drink quite a bit of water so you may have to re-fill the vase often. Also, you’ll want to clean and refill the vase and re-cut the stems at least every 2-3 days to maximize vase life and be sure to keep the peonies in a cool place away from direct sunlight and heat.

Peony Care and Handling Tips

Biggest Peony Care Mistakes

We get A LOT of questions about peonies all the time and these some of the biggest mistakes we see:

1. Not cutting the peonies

You MUST, MUST, MUST cut the peony stem before putting it into water. If you don’t, the peonies will not hydrate well which means they won’t bloom. They’ll just droop and die which no one wants to happen! Giving the stems a fresh cut removes the dried out end of the stem and the new freshly exposed end (cut at a diagonal) will be able to drink up water to start getting those blooms open. For best vase life, give them another fresh cut every 2-3 days to make sure those stems can easily drink up water.

Peony Care and Handling - Cut Stems

2. Not checking water levels

So, you’ve cut and put your peonies in water. Great! But you need to keep an eye out on the water level. Some peonies can drink up A LOT of water, especially in the first day of hydrating. Make sure you check how much water is in your vase and ensure the peonies are in at least 4-5 inches of water.

 Peony Care Biggest Mistakes - Low Water Levels

3. Leaving the stems too long

This is one mistake we see all the time! Since we’re sending the best of the best, the stem lengths of our peonies can be quite long sometimes (since longer stems typically mean a larger bloom size). Most people do not have super tall vases and so sticking long peonies in a short vase makes it harder for them to hydrate because the stems are not supported and water also has to travel a lot farther to reach the bud. Don’t be afraid to cut the stems down to a size appropriate to your vase. It’ll not only look better, but the stems will get the support they need to help the flowers bloom.

Peony Care Biggest Mistakes - Stem Length

4. Not removing leaves that fall under the water line

If you want to enjoy your peonies for as long as possible, then remove any leaves that fall under the water line. This helps keep the water clean and clean water = healthy peonies! If you let the leaves sit in water, they’ll start to degrade which means bacteria in your water, and bacteria in your water means you’re going to shorten the vase life of your peonies.

Peony Care Biggest Mistakes - Remove Foliage

5. Jamming too many peonies into a small vase

Peonies (really all flowers) like to have a little room to breath. Since peonies arrive in bud form, they need enough space for the blooms to open. It’s like a growing kid…you don’t want to stuff their feet into shoes that are too small! Make sure the buds have some space and this also allows air to circulate around the foliage so you don’t get any premature molding. (Think of how a wet swimsuit smells after being stuffed into a bag and not allowed to dry…gross right?!). Don’t be afraid to split up your bunch of peonies into multiple vases if you have to. It means more spaces you can decorate with peonies!

Peony Care and Handling - Don't crowd them

6. Keeping the peonies too warm

That sunny spot on your windowsill is the perfect place for flowers right? Well, putting peonies in warm direct sunlight is a surefire way to shorten its vase life! So, if you only want your peonies to last a day, then go right ahead. Those blooms will pop open fast and then age too quickly. But if you want to enjoy your peonies for as long as possible, keep them in a cool spot away from heat and direct sun.

Getting Peonies to Open Faster

So, what if you need your peonies to open faster?  This is a question we get asked a lot from people using peonies for a wedding, event or even a dinner party. Our tips:

Peony Care = Speed up process by removing all foliage

  • Pull off as much foliage as possible. We know some of you like to leave a little bit on for some greenery, but if you don’t need it, pull off all foliage. This will divert all of the plant’s energy to opening up that bloom.
  • Fill up your vase or container with at least 6” of slightly warm (not hot) water. (The deeper the water, the faster the blooms will open).
  • Re-cut each stem as short as possible for the vase you’re using and quickly place them in the water
  • Put the vase in a warm, but not hot room. The warmth will help speed up the bloom process, but you don’t want to cook the peonies, so make sure that you also keep it away from direct sunlight and heating vents.
  • If buds have started to open up and you really need them to open up more, you can help them along by VERY carefully and gently opening up the bloom with your fingers. Slightly push back the calyx (the outer green petal-like covering) and outer petals to help it start to open up more.

Peony Care and Handling - Speed up Blooming

We recommend these steps ONLY if you need your peonies to open quickly. Otherwise, the best way is to just let them go at their own pace!

Slowing Down the Blooming Process

So, another question we get asked is what if you want to slow down the blooming process?  Sometimes an event gets delayed, so you need your peonies to hold out for a bit. Our tip is to get them into a cold environment which will slow down blooming process.

Peony Care - Slowing down blooming process

  • If you have not yet processed your peonies, just leave them as they have arrived wrapped in paper and put them in a dry spot in a refrigerator. Make sure to keep the blooms away from moisture and also fruits and vegetables. These naturally give off ethylene gas which will speed up the aging of your blooms which you don’t want.  You can keep peonies out of water in a refrigerator for up to a week. Once you’re ready to use them, just follow the same steps to hydrate them.
  • If you’ve already cut and put the stems in water, don’t worry you can still slow down the process. If you have a fridge big enough, just place the whole vase inside (making sure to keep them away from fruits and vegetables).
  • If your fridge is not big enough, then you can remove the blooms, gently dry off the stems with a clean cloth. Make sure there is no moisture on the leaves or blooms and re-wrap them in paper before putting them into the fridge.
  • If you don’t have a fridge available, then the next best thing is to keep them in the coldest and dimmest room possible. That could be a closet, bathroom or even a garage. Just make sure it’s not SO cold that they freeze!

We hope that these peony care and handling tips help and you can always write us (info@flowermuse.com) if you have any other questions. We’re always happy to help and want to make sure you’re enjoying your flowers to the fullest! It’ll be peak US peony season soon, so be sure to treat yourself to some peonies!

Cheers!

Ellie

27 Comments

Add yours
  1. 2
    Jessica C.

    Hi Ellie,
    I want to use peonies for an event. Since they take time to open up, how many days in advance would I need to have the peonies on hand before I arrange them since I cannot make an arrangement with peonies buds (although they do carry a certain charm ;))?

    • 3
      Ellie H.

      Hi Jessica! Great question that we get all the time. We typically recommend getting peonies 2-3 days before your event date. For coral peonies and some red peony varieties, we recommend 1-2 days before because these tend to open much faster. I hope that helps and if you have any other questions just let us know or drop us a line (info@flowermuse.com).

      Thanks!
      Ellie

  2. 7
    Lea

    Hi! I remember to overheard that if I cut Peony stems, before Peony has started to blooming, and put these stems in a fridge (in water?) then I have cut flower Peonies in December,in vase in Christmastime..If that´s true, which I believe it is, so shall I keep the stems in the water or just wrap them in paper?

    • 8
      Ellie H.

      Hi Lea! Yes, you can keep peonies in the fridge, but it’s not something we recommend doing at home for a prolonged period of time because if it’s not done correctly and kept in the right environment, then the peonies won’t do well. If you’ve just cut the peonies from the plant, they can be wrapped and placed in the fridge, but we only recommend this for at most a few days. Also some varieties will keep better than others, so more sensitive ones (like coral charm) won’t hold well at all like this, especially in a standard (non-floral) refrigerator. I hope this helps answer your question!

  3. 9
    Joanne

    Hi
    I know nothing about flowers but would like to decorate the tables at my daughter christening with peonies. I am ordering some 650ml jars to use as vases. Obviously thT is not very tall, is that ok? When my peonies arrive should I just trim ends until the day of the christening? Or is it ok to cut the stems short straight away? And I should have them arrive 2-3 days before to ensure they have opened?

    • 10
      Ellie H.

      Hi Joanne! Thanks for stopping by! Regarding your question, I would recommend having the peonies arrive 2 days before the event date (so delivery on Thurs if the event is on Saturday). On arrival, just follow our care and handling tips. I would cut about 2″ off each stem on the first day and let the peonies drink up and hydrate like this in buckets or larger vases until you’re ready to arrange them into the jars (assuming that it’s the day before or morning of the event). At that point, I would then cut them down to fit the jars. You can certainly cut them down right away, but the peonies will bloom much faster and speed through their life cycle more quickly. I hope this helps and let us know if you have any other questions. Thanks!

  4. 11
    Alexey

    Thank you for your blog!
    You’re talking about the refrigerator to keep the flowers. And what is the optimal temperature should be in the refrigerator?

    • 12
      Ellie H.

      Hi Alexey,

      Thanks for stopping by! We only recommend that peonies be refrigerated to temporarily slow down the blooming process or as a temporary storage for a day or two. For cases like this, anywhere around 40 degrees (Fahrenheit) is good. Most household refrigerators are set to somewhere around 35-38ºF and that range is fine. You don’t want it any lower or else you may freeze and damage the blooms. Also, you’ll want to make sure humidity is not too high since excess moisture could cause premature molding. I hope this helps and let us know if you have any other questions!

  5. 14
    Daniella

    Question..
    Planning on ordering peonies for outdoor graduation party. Is that wise? I only ask because I know that peonies harbor ants. Should I only display these flowers indoors? If I do display outdoors, is there a way to keep them ant free?

    Thanks for your time.

    • 15
      Ellie H.

      Hi Daniella,

      Thanks for stopping by! Peonies can definitely be used for an outdoor event! We have plenty of customers using them for outdoor parties and wedding receptions. Peonies can certainly harbor ants and it’s a problem people face growing them in their own garden. However, when you buy peonies from us, they are ant free!

      Since our peonies arrive in a bud form, we would recommend that you get them delivered at least 2 days before your party. That will give them some time to hydrate and open up more. You can keep them indoors and arrange them before the party and then I would wait until the last possible minute to place them outside for your party (and try to keep them in a shaded cool spot if you want them to last beyond the party). The bloomed peonies shouldn’t attract ants and honestly any food you might have on the table is probably going to attract ants more than the flowers! I hope this helps answer your question and let us know if you have any others!

  6. 17
    Tracy

    Advice, please. The wedding is June 12th. My peonies are just buds. Forecast is for weather in the 60s for the next week or so.

    Any chance I can cut and store the buds at 40 degrees wrapped in paper in the fridge to keep until the wedding??? Remove them two days prior???

    Thank you!

    • 18
      Ellie H.

      Hi Tracy, thanks for stopping by! Given that the wedding is still several weeks away, we don’t recommend keeping cut peonies stored in a refrigerator for that long. We know peonies have been kept for a month after being cut, but these are in very specialized coolers that control for temperature, humidity and many other factors. Also, some peony varieties just do not hold well at all for extended periods of time like this (even in specialized coolers). You can certainly try, but the blooms may not open or they may not look great if they do. If you do try, you should make sure you have a backup plan so you’re not without flowers for the wedding.

    • 20
      Ellie H.

      Hi Kourtney! We never recommend adding ice cubes to the water. If you do need to prolong the vase life, your best bet would be to keep them in a cool spot away from any direct heat and sunlight. You can also put them in a fridge for a little bit but once peonies are fully bloomed, they typically have a vase life of at most 3-5 days. It can be shorter or longer depending on the peony variety.

  7. 21
    Flower Gardiner

    Hi. How hardy are peonies for wedding bouquets? How long can they be out of water before wilting when not in foam?

    • 22
      Ellie H.

      Hi! Peonies can definitely be used in wedding bouquets. They should last at least a couple hours out of water and even longer if they are not in direct sunlight and heat. We recommend that they are fully hydrated before they are arranged into a bouquet. That means that they have been given a fresh cut and placed in water for at least 6-8 hours. Also some varieties will hold better than others and a general rule of thumb is pinks will last longer than colors like coral. Hope this helps!

    • 24
      Ellie H.

      Hi Allison,

      Thanks for stopping by! To answer your question, there really isn’t a specific height of vase that we recommend. It depends on how you want to display the peonies. Some people prefer to showcase the stems longer and so a taller vase, around 10″ in height, would be great. If you prefer to showcase the peonies in a shorter arrangement, then a vase around 5-6″ tall would work. One thing we do recommend is not getting a vase that is too wide (unless you’re arranging more than 20 stems). A 10 stem bunch of peonies will look best in a vase that has an opening around 3.5-4.5″ across. For a looser arrangement, you could go wider, but I would recommend no wider than 5″ across.

      Regardless of vase height, we do recommend that you cut down the stems so they fit the vase. One of the biggest mistakes we see are peonies that are way too long inside a short vase. The peonies need support and they’ll hydrate much better if they are cut to an appropriate height. Peonies stems should extend no more than 6″ above the top of the vase.

      I hope this information helps and if you have any more questions, feel free to send us an email (info@flowermuse.com)

  8. 25
    Sharlene Crawford

    I have many peonie plants in many colors. This year our weather has been warmer than usual. As a result, my plants are already budding. If I pinch these off, will they rebud?

    • 26
      Ellie H.

      Hi Sharlene, thanks for stopping by! Sounds like you have a beautiful garden! Our specialty is care of cut peonies that have been commercially grown, so I would try asking a gardening forum or blog as they could give much better advice on this topic!

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