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Cutting Peony Flowers

Peonies: When to Pick and How To Preserve

The Peony Flower Guide

A common question we get all the time is: What is the best time to pick my peonies and how do I make them last? Peony flowers are typically one of the first bloomers here on our farm. Their little red beaks poke through the soil, turn into red shoots, green bushes, balled tips and then gorgeous flowers. But they come at a quick rush, and we have built some techniques over the years to keep them. around the house for the longest period possible.

When do I cut peonies?

I would say that most gardeners cut their peonies a little too late, after they have almost fully opened. To get the longest vase life and enjoy the anticipation as the flower slowly opens, it is best to pick them as they transition from a hard ball to a soft “marshmallow” type firmness. If you put them out in a vase at this time, they will continue to open and bloom into the beautiful, large flower.

When you cut, take the longest possible stem to the base of the flower. This will encourage root growth and energy storage for the next season.

When to cut peony flowers
Cut peonies when the buds are at the “marshmallow” phase

How can I save flowers and have a supply for an extended period?

The problem with peonies is that they all come at once, and then they are gone. So a few tips to extend the season and your enjoyment.

  • Planting Peonies – we have a rotation scheme here at Celtic that includes varying varieties, exposure and age. Different varieties of peony will bloom at slightly different times. So adding a bunch to your garden and landscape will result in an extended bloom season. As you grow your collection, we find that older plants typically bloom faster and earlier than the newer ones. Dividing the parent plant also adds a little difference in bloom times. Finally, varying exposure with different plantings will adjust the bloom schedule. Full 8 hour sun exposure vs a bit of shade in the morning or afternoon can shift the plant to a later bloom cycle. Using a combo of all 3 will give some great results.
  • Refrigerator – we have found that blooms that spend time right away in the fridge last much longer. In addition, putting your cuttings in damp paper or wrapping them in plastic can provide weeks of storage, even months for some varieties. When you remove them, cut the stems and put them in lukewarm water to initiate the bloom.

How long will peonies last in a vase?

Standard time for cut peonies is 5-10 days. If you cut them just at the right time, refrigerate for a bit and add floral preservative to the water, you can easily exceed that number and approach 2 weeks of peony bliss

Just a short post on lasting enjoyment of our favorite flower. How do you preserve yours?

Some other great links on cutting and preserving peonies:

Michigan State Peony Flower Cutting Article

American Peony Society Storage Guide

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