Care of Peonies - 101
Every so often florists will send out polls to their Customers and ask “what’s your favourite flower”. 92% of the time, the answer is peonies! And, we couldn’t agree more!
Peonies in Canada have a short growing season. Typically, they are available (and pretty affordable) from early May to the end of June. For you economic geeks, peonies cause a true supply & demand situation. It’s a short season and the crop only goes so far. So, the price reflects the demand. There are other places around the world where the peony growing season is different from ours (Alaska for example) where peonies can be available through to Aug or Sept. Advance notice would be required to get these and of course, there would be an added layer of courier costs. Peonies are beauties but you really have to want them! You don’t need to stand on your left leg and turn around 3 times, but it might feel like that.
These favourite blooms a feast for the eyes and the nose, but they do require extra tender, loving care.
Fresh Cut Peonies
Start your peonies off on the right foot with a quick trim! (Even if you just picked them up from your florist and they cut them for you.) Find a pair of scissors, kitchen shears or even a sharp kitchen knife and trim at least 1/2" off each stem.
Pro Tip: aim for a 45° angle. This provides more surface area for the flowers to drink from and prevents the stems from sitting flush to the bottom of the vase (where bacteria can build up). Daily stem trims (or as often as you can remember) will also help to ensure your stems can get a fresh drink as they age!
Don’t forget! When cleaning the stems of peonies, remember to remove and leaves that will fall below the water line. Remove those leaves to prevent bacteria growth in the water.
Water, Water and more Water!
As previously mentioned, your peonies are going to be thirsty after you get them home, so fill a large vase with room temperature water (use enough water so that ¾ of the de-leafed stems will be submerged) and pop in your peonies! Once you get them in the vase, change the vase water daily (or as often as you can possibly remember!) This helps reduce the growth of bacteria in the vase water which will help you to get more bloom life from your bouquet. Extra care is required to get the most out of these petal packet stems!
Care of Peonies - 201
What if I purchase peonies and they are direct shipped to my home? It’s normal for peonies to be shipped without a water source. This really is normal, we promise! You will get the full (brief, but oh so beautiful!) bloom life of your peonies and if they are shipped without water. If they were shipped with a water source they would likely open up (in the warm comfy box!) on their way to you. Shipping peonies without water doesn’t damage the bloom in any way, but it does mean your peonies will need a tall drink of water after their long trip!
Lollipop, lollipop! It’s also not unusual for peonies to be shipped in bud form (we like to call them lollipops!) so that you’ll get to witness every minute of their blooming magic!
Pro tip! Peony buds may often be accompanied by brown spots. As they bloom the spots should not be noticeable. However, if a few petals don’t look so great, gently remove them!
Peony foliage often arrives looking wilted. This is totally normal since the stem has been out of water! While leaving the leaves on for transit is important for flower health, it’s best to remove most of the foliage once you receive your peonies because thirsty leaves can rob the blossoms of water. As always, remove any leaves, etc that will be below the waterline in your vase. It’s ok to leave any leaves near the top of the flower to help feed and support the heavy heads of the peonies!...as long as these leaves are not in water! Sorry, can’t say this part enough.
Of all the flowers we work with, we get the most care questions about peonies like, “what can I do to make my peonies last longer?” or “I’ve had my peonies for two days and they still haven’t opened.” We will try to answer all your burning questions about these finicky flowers.
Peonies have notoriously short bloom lives, typically between 3-5 days. To enjoy these blooming beauties ALAP (that’s as long as possible), we have a few recommendations:
· Make sure to refresh your vase water daily to prevent bacterial growth.
· Peonies are extremely sensitive to temperature! This attribute can be used to your advantage when trying to speed up (warm water) or slow down (cold water) the blooming process.
· To help your flowers live their best (and longest) life, keep your blooms in a cool place, VERY far from any heat source or window. You can even add ice to the water to slow down the blooming process!
· If you have ordered your peonies ahead of an event and want to slow down their blooming process, store them in cold water and even in a refrigerator. (Most professional florists store there flowers in coolers so this is a recommended practice).
· Keep the water healthy! Make sure to add the packet of flower food (or home hack! Try a splash of Sprite or sugar) to the vase water to enjoy them longer!
Need your Blooms to Open Faster?
If you’re eager to get your buds blooming (or need to encourage any stubborn buds to get going!) here are a few tried and true tips:
· Gently peel away any tough, outer green leaves on the buds to help encourage the bud to bloom!
· Gently massage the bud on the palm of your hand or underneath your chin. It sounds silly, and may make you giggle, but it does encourage the buds to bloom!
· If the massage doesn’t help, give the stems a fresh trim and place them in a vase of warm water in a sunny place in your home for an hour or two. Since peonies are extremely heat-sensitive make sure you don’t overdo it!
· When ordering for a special event, keep in mind that it may take a few days for the flowers to open up so plan ahead!
· Lastly, it has been suggested that a firm “tap” of the bloom bud on a table or other hard surface, may loosen up a tight bud and encourage it to stretch and subsequently open.