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When to Pick and How to Preserve Your Gorgeous Peonies

April 21, 2023

We grow a ton of peonies on our flower farm, and love these spring beauties. Here are some tips to make peonies last.

Peonies are a popular and beautiful flowering plant that can grace any garden with their lush, full blooms. These perennial flowers are not only stunning, but they also have a lovely fragrance and make excellent cut flowers for your home or as gifts. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the best time to pick peonies and how to preserve them, ensuring they last as long as possible and retain their captivating beauty.

When to Pick Peonies

Timing is everything

To enjoy the longest vase life for your peonies, it’s crucial to harvest them at the right stage of development. The ideal time to pick peonies is when the buds are still somewhat tight but have started to show color and are slightly soft to the touch. This ensures that the flowers will open fully once they are cut and brought indoors.

Master Gardener Tip: Use the marshmallow rule: take the bud between you thumb and forefinger, and when it has the softness of a marshmallow, it’s time to pick.

Morning magic

The best time of day to harvest your peonies is in the morning, after the dew has dried but before the heat of the day. This is when the flowers are most hydrated and will be less susceptible to wilting.

How to Preserve Peonies

Clean cut

Using clean, sharp pruning shears or scissors, cut the peony stems at an angle, approximately 12-18 inches in length. Cutting at an angle increases the surface area for water uptake and helps prevent the stems from sitting flat at the bottom of the vase, which can inhibit water absorption.

Remove excess foliage

Gently remove any leaves that will be submerged in water to prevent bacterial growth and water contamination. Keep some foliage intact for aesthetic purposes, but be cautious not to overcrowd the vase.

Master Gardener Tip: After cutting your stems, you can store extras in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Wrap the ends with a wet paper towel, and wrap them in plastic to maintain moisture, leaving the top open for air flow. Law them flat on a shelf, and remoisten the towel every few days.

Water temperature matters

Place the freshly cut peony stems in a vase or container filled with lukewarm water. Warm water is better for initial uptake, as it helps to dissolve any air bubbles that may be blocking the stem’s water-conducting cells.

Flower food

Add a commercial flower preservative to the vase water, following the package instructions. This will provide essential nutrients to the flowers, as well as help to maintain a lower pH level in the water, which is beneficial for water uptake.

Keep it cool

To extend the vase life of your peonies, store the arrangement in a cool location, away from direct sunlight, heat sources, and drafts. This will help to slow down the aging process and maintain their vibrant colors.

Refresh the water

Change the water in the vase every two to three days or when it appears cloudy. This will help to minimize bacterial growth and keep your peonies looking fresh.

Recut stems

When changing the water, it’s a good idea to recut the stems at an angle under running water. This will prevent air from entering the stem and blocking water uptake.

By following these tips on when to pick and how to preserve your peonies, you’ll be able to enjoy their delightful blooms for a longer period of time. Remember that timing is crucial, and taking proper care of your cut peonies will ensure their beauty and fragrance can be cherished for days to come.

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