Peonies are perennials that come back every year…much to our delight. They are insanely beautiful from Spring to Summer and have been known to survive 100 years!
There are many types of peony blooming varieties; early, mid-season and late blooming…making it possible to stretch out the season over several weeks. There are six flower types to choose from: anemone, single, Japanese, semi-double, double, and bomb. There are also different fragrances, some plants such as ‘Festiva Maxima’ and ‘Duchesse de Nemours’ have rose-like scents while others are lemony or have no scent at all.
In most of the US, it is fairly easy to grow peonies, the recipe is simple full sun and well-drained soil. Peonies even like cold winters, because they need chilling for bud formation.
When To Plant Peonies
Peony plants require little maintenance as long as they are planted properly and establish themselves, but they do not respond well to transplanting. Plant peonies in the fall, late September and October in most of the country, and even later in the South. Peonies should be settled into place about six weeks before the ground freezes. Spring-planted peonies just don’t do as well, they generally lag about a year behind those planted in the fall.
We planted our peonies last Fall and are starting to see the lovely blooms appear now in mid May on the east coast.
They were planted as part of our home landscape project we started last year, you can check out Front of Home “Landscape Reveal”.
When they were planted last Fall, they were very small in size, I am surprised to see how big they grew this spring. Over the Winter they weren’t looking too hot, but they really shot up when the weather got warmer.
Nine peonies were planted in total in our front yard, they are the double variety.
They are producing big beautiful pink blooms!
When to Cut Peonies
Peonies make the most wonderful cut flowers! They can last more than a week in a vase. To ensure you get longevity from your flowers, cut long stems in the morning when the buds are still fairly tight. If you cut them when they have opened up and are already in full bloom, they will not last as long indoors. The best time to cut peonies is when the bud is soft like a marshmallow, do not cut the flower if the bud is still hard.
Storing Peonies for Later Use
Peonies can be stored for several weeks even months depending on the variety. The key to storing peonies in the refrigerator and having them bloom at a much later date is knowing when to cut them and how to properly store them.
The timing needs to be precise. As I mentioned above, to store a peony for proper bloom and achieve a vase life of five to ten days, you need to cut the flowers when the buds are showing some color and are soft like a marshmallow. During the bloom time of peonies, you must check them several times a day to make sure you are cutting at the proper developmental stage.
Once the peonies are cut, you should store them dry, stripping the leaves off the stem to reduce water loss. The next thing you need to do is wrap the peonies completely, stem to bud, in clear plastic wrap, sealing both ends of the wrap.
Sealing the wrap helps to ensure minimal moisture loss from the flowers themselves. A good tight seal is imperative if storing them in a frost-free refrigerator.
Store them horizontally for up to three months. When removing them from their cold storage, cut the stem and place in tepid water in a cool area. Once the peony is hydrated, it should bloom for about a week.
If you are thinking you would like a bouquet of peonies at Thanksgiving, Byczynski’s book, “The Flower Farmer, An Organic Grower’s Guide to Raising and Selling Cut Flowers,” lists several varieties of peonies and their vase life. Even if you do not know the variety of peonies growing in your garden, experiment with the ones you have and see how long you can have fresh peonies to enjoy, maybe for months.
Peonies are such a beautiful flower, they are worth the time and investment in caring and experimentation so they can be enjoyed indoors and out for many years to come.
Do you have Peonies in your yard, do you bring them indoors?
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