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!
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.
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!
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:
- 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!
- Peonies will usually arrive wrapped in paper. Carefully remove and put the paper wrap aside.
- Fill up a clean container or vase with at least 4” to 5” of room temperature water.
- 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.
- 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.
- You can remove the paper wrap after 3-4 hours.
- 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.
- 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.
Biggest Peony Care Mistakes
We get A LOT of questions about peonies all the time and these are 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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:
- 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.
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.
- 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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!