Tricks to Long-lasting Peonies
Known for their beautiful and fragrant heavy blooms, peonies have traditionally been associated with Memorial Day (known as Decoration Day in the 1800's). Some cemeteries even have them scattered throughout the graveyard to adorn the graves of fallen soldiers and loved ones when they bloom. Unfortunately, they're not here for very long! These beloved flowers have one of the shortest bloom times of the flowers we grow. I think this adds to their appeal though, making us appreciate them a little more in the short time they are here. We pick peonies for around 2-3 weeks during the month of May, checking them daily to get them at just the right stage for picking.
I do have a secret though: we have found a trick on how to have peonies longer than for just those few short weeks and I'll share my secret with you! If you have your own peonies blooming in the yard, here are a few tips to help keep them looking their best.
1. Peonies are top heavy. Especially older varieties like Sarah Bernhardt. It's too late for this season but in late April as the buds begin to form I pinch out those side buds. This allows one larger flower to develop and helps to keep the plant upright once blooms open.
2. Pick them early! You can pick peonies just as the buds begin to feel slightly squishy like a marshmallow. This allows them to open in the vase, providing a longer lasting flower. (Yes, even though they are pretty in your landscape you should pick a few!)
3. Have lots of blooms and want to enjoy some later? You can cut blooms in the marshmallow stage and store them dry (no water needed) in your refrigerator for up to a month. Just wrap a tighter bud up in some newspaper and when you are ready to enjoy them again recut the ends of the stems and put them in a vase of water. That's it!
Here's to a longer peony season!