The Best Peony Flower Tips and Tricks

LAST UPDATED: May 20, 2021 | PUBLISHED: Feb 23, 2020 | By:

Peonies…. their season is so short, but so very beautiful and sweet. If the fabulously fragrant peony flower is close to your heart, you’ll want to keep reading. Learn about the classic pink peony and the wide variety of peony colors, where to buy, how to extend their vase life in a peony bouquet, and so much more!

Today I’m sharing tips to extend the life of your peony stems for days, weeks, even months!

A stove top with a blue and white vase of pink peony flowers to the side.

This post was originally published May 2018, updated April 2021 with new details and content.

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for years, but peony season is so short, I never seem to get to it before it’s over. But, it doesn’t have to be quite so short… you won’t believe one of the tricks I’m about to show you!

That’s right… next time you think your fresh peony bouquet is starting to wilt, this little trick will save you!

I love sharing my favorite floral tips with you! I’ve shown you how to be your own florist, how to revive wilted hydrangea, and even how to create a centerpiece of hydrangea or ranunculus.

This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I receive a small commission at no cost to you!

A blue and white porcelain vase of pink peonies by the kitchen sink.

“A rose is a rose, but a peony is a friend forever.”

-unknown

Peony Flower History and Fun Facts

Peony flowers are lush, romantic, fragrant and dramatic and they make excellent cutting flowers. Their brief season makes them even sweeter to behold!

  • Scholars know that they originated in Asia thousands of years ago. Documentation dates them in Japan eight centuries back! 
  • There is an incredible variety of peony colors! And while there are varietals with “blue” in the name… blue is actually the one peony color that doesn’t exist.
  • They can live for years… and years! It’s believed that the plants can live for over 100 years.
  • These gorgeous flowers are easy to grow. In fact, they thrive on neglect. There’s a reason they live for so long, often found alongside vintage farmsteads throughout the Midwest. Have full sun? Have soil that drains relatively well? Plant this hardy perennial and enjoy them for years to come!
  • They are considered to be an ideal wedding flower because they symbolize good fortune and a happy marriage. 
A fresh floral arrangement of herbs and more in a clear glass vase.

What Time of Year do Peonies Bloom? 

This depends entirely on your location and the variety of peony you’re discussing. Here in the Midwest, they begin blooming anywhere from late April through early June. 

While we all wish they last longer on the bush in our gardens, that’s part of the reason that the peony flower season is such a treasure! The more fleeting their lives, the more we can appreciate those brief moments of joy.

They bloom just once a season, but don’t fret. You can enjoy them indoors and out! When cutting from a peony bush, select those low to the ground that likely won’t be a focal point if they were to remain on the bush.

Also, note if there are additional tiny buds on the stem you wish to cut. Unless it’s a large bud that I intend to save for later, I leave tiny buds on the bush to enjoy {and potentially cut} later.

A stove top with a blue and white vase of pink peony flowers to the side.

Where to Buy Peonies

Peony bushes can be found at your local nursery or hardware stores. If you want well established flowers with abundant blooms, see if someone has a mature bush you can transplant for maximum blooms.

I prefer to work with an established plant over bulbs in Missouri. If you’re considering purchasing plants for your yard, consider that they prefer full sun and good air circulation.

If you want cut peony flower stems for a peony bouquet, you can often locate them at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s in addition to your local florist. Psst… have you read my detailed post about how to shop for Trader Joe’s flowers

A fresh floral arrangement of white hydrangea and more, on a rattan textured coffee table.

Are Peonies Expensive? 

A short answer? Sometimes. Maybe even most of the time! While you can find these fresh blooms affordably at your local farmer’s markets in their brief local growing season, flower shops charge significant mark-ups.

Keep in mind, the most common growing season is late April through June. This will always be the most affordable time of the year to purchase for peony bouquets.

Quick Tip: Florists can often source peony flowers throughout the year, but you’ll pay quite a premium. Because the growing season varies all over the world, they can be flown and shipped everywhere as a cut bloom! If you want them for a wedding or upcoming event, the best months in the US are May and June.

Pink peony flowers in a blue and white vase by a kitchen farm sink.

How to Get Rid of Ants on Peonies

Hold the stems just below the buds and gently shake with the bloom facing down. Then dip blooms into a bucket of cold water with two drops of dish detergent for 20 seconds and remove.

Quick Tip: I like to do this outside with the garden hose, if at all possible. Most commercially grown versions will not have ants, but locally grown stems will because they are truly garden-fresh! Any fresh cut peony bouquets you pick up from your farmer’s market or your own backyard are likely to have them. Nobody needs an ant invasion so proceed with caution!

White and pink peony colors, draped over the front of a farm sink in a white kitchen.

How to Get Peonies to Open

While you can’t force them, you can definitely give them a little nudge in the right direction!

  1. Cut the stem at an angle.
  2. Place stems in lukewarm water.
  3. Place flowers in a warm, sunlit room.
  4. Repeat.
  5. If they still don’t open, you can place buds in lukewarm water for 15 seconds to encourage them.
White peonies in a vase on an antique gold accent table.

How to Make Peony Flowers Last Longer

  1. Add ice to their water.
  2. Place them in a dark, cool space or refrigerator.

Looking for this pretty blue and white ginger jar? This one is very similar to mine, at a great price point! 

A pink peony bouquet inside a refrigerator to extend their life.

Quick Tip: How to Refresh Peonies

If you take anything away from this post, let it be this little secret!

  1. Cut stems at an angle.
  2. Place in cool, fresh water.
  3. Refrigerate until they’re perky!

Yes, this really works! If your formerly fluffy blooms are just a little wilted and droopy, but not fully down, you can refresh them and get another day or two of enjoyment from those beauties!

Check out the photos below for an example of this process. It’s a game-changer!

Pink peony flowers in a bucket.
BEFORE {looking sad}
A blue and white vase full of pink peony bouquet inside a refrigerator.
STARTING TO LOOK BETTER
A blue and white vase inside a refrigerator, filled with a pink peony bouquet.
DURING

I mean… maybe I am easily excited, but isn’t that an amazing transformation? I will do anything to extend the life of these precious blooms, but this was no work at all! Be sure to give this little secret a try next time your petals droop!

Peony Colors

This spectacular bloom comes in a wide range of colors. From the traditional old-fashioned pink peony bush in your grandmother’s backyard to the highly specialized and rare peony tree colors, you can find something for every peony bouquet!

  • All shades of pink peony, of course
  • coral
  • peach
  • red
  • magenta
  • deep purple
  • white
  • cream
  • yellow

How to Store Peonies for Later

This simple trick will allow you to enjoy peonies from now until August!

  1. Choose stems in a soft bud stage. The best tip? They should feel like a marshmallow – that’s how you’ll know they are perfect for saving.
  2. Remove leaves from the stem.
  3. Wrap in clear plastic wrap, sealing both ends or in damp newspaper. Place horizontally in a refrigerator. You’ll wrap them completely from base of stem to top of buds – tie with twine or tape together like a package.
  4. Remove, trim stem and place in lukewarm water.
A fresh floral arrangement of herbs and a variety of yellow and white peony colors.

More Questions and Answers

What are the three types of peonies?

There are three peony flower groups: herbaceous, tree peonies, and North American. Herbaceous are the most common perennials, growing to a height of approximately three feet.

Are yellow peonies rare?

While this peony color is becoming more common in landscapes, it is certainly much less common than the ubiquitous pink peony we all know and love! Yellow can now be found in each each of the three peony groups: garden, tree peony, and intersectional hybrids.

What do pink peonies symbolize?

The pink peony is a classic addition to a bridal bouquet because it is believed to symbolize good luck and prosperity.

Do peonies bloom more than once?

Peony plants can bloom for over 100 years. While they only bloom once a year in late spring to early summer, each plant will give multiple blooms during every blooming season.

An individual peony flower will last approximately seven days on the bush or as a cut flower.

How to Arrange Peonies

You can learn how to arrange them here and here with my easy step-by-step tutorials!

Find all my floral guides right here… it’s a great place to start if you’re looking to add floral design skills to your life!

I hope these tips help you maximize the joy of peony season.

I’d love to hear from you! Do you love this iconic bloom as much as I do? Are you excited for spring to arrive so you can buy them, or perhaps pick from your own cutting garden? 

Join the club! You can find daily updates on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and see my latest YouTube videos here!

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