Everything you need to know about these delightfully fragrant,
huge-headed harbingers of spring.
cut two ways
the 33 species in the Paeonia (peony) genus, two are most commonly grown
for cut flowers: P. officinalis (common peony, wild peony, European wild
peony), which is of European origin, and P. lactiflora (Chinese peony),
which is of Asian origin. The Paeonia genus is a member of the small
Paeoniaceae family, the only other member of which is Glaucidium, a
addition to emanating delightful scents, peonies are available in a huge
range of colors and forms; approximately 2,600 varieties exist. Colors
include a multitude of pink and red hues as well as purple, salmon,
apricot, white, ivory/cream, yellow and bicolors.
Flower forms include single, double, semidouble, Japanese (single, with
large yellow centers), and anemone (single, with powder-puff centers).
Double-flowered varieties are the most common as cut flowers in the
United States while single-flowered varieties are widely sold in Europe
Still truly seasonal flowers, peonies are available from both domestic
and foreign growers from about March through August, with peak season
being April, May and June. Most white varieties bloom early in the
season, so remember this when selling white peonies for weddings,
parties and other orders.
peonies in the “puffy” stage, when the buds are about to open. Growers
cut each variety at a different stage of bud development to ensure
flower opening, but most varieties are cut in a tight bud stage, with
only a trace of color visible. This keeps the blooms from getting
damaged in transit and allows for the longest possible vase life. Watch
out for overly tight buds; they will never open.
Once your peonies arrive, immediately remove them from the shipping
boxes. Peonies are susceptible to Botrytis (gray mold), which will rot
the entire flower heads. Botrytis loves dark, moist environments, such
as inside shipping boxes, and thrives with changes in shipping
temperature. It is more prevalent during wet growing seasons and on
double flower varieties. Remove any flowers contaminated with Botrytis
from the bunch(es), and notify your supplier.
6 on the
checking the quality of the flowers, recut the stems with a sharp knife
or pruner, removing at least 1 inch of stem. Immediately after cutting,
dip or place the stem ends into a hydration solution, then place them
into containers half filled with warm (100 F to 110 F) properly
proportioned flower-food solution. The hydration solution will help the
flowers absorb water after being shipped or stored dry.
If peonies appear wilted or otherwise water stressed when they arrive,
submerge the stems up to the blooms in room-temperature water for 20
minutes before processing them.
7 cool their
After processing peonies, place them into a floral cooler at 33 F to 35
F, and allow them to hydrate for at least two hours before using or
selling them. Peonies are heavy drinkers, so check their water supply
often. Depending on variety, peonies can begin opening almost
immediately after being placed into water, but immediate refrigeration
can slow that process.
8 facts of
If properly cared for from farm to florist, peonies will give consumers
two to seven days of vase life, depending on variety.
9 cut and
If you don’t need peonies immediately, you can store bud-stage peonies
dry (out of water) in a floral cooler at 33 F to 35 F for up to three
weeks. Opening blooms, however, must be placed into flower-food solution
10 big heads
Peony blooms can open to 6 inches in diameter or larger. In designs,
leave enough space for the flowers to open fully. If any flower heads
are too heavy to be supported upright by the stems, wire them to prevent
them from flopping.
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