How to Care for Peonies

These blooms hit their peak in May and June. Here’s how to make your lush arrangement last longer.

There’s nothing prettier than a bouquet of big peony blooms. “Peonies are planted in early April and the harvest usually starts around the beginning of May,” says Callie Bladow, production director at BloomThat. “We get to see these beauties until mid to end of June.” To take advantage of peony season and incorporate them into your floral arrangements this summer, Bladow shares everything you need to know about choosing, arranging, and caring for the flowers.


Start With the Right Blooms

Photo by Bloom That

“Buy peonies fresh cut from a grower or at your local flower mart when they are still very closed—about the size of a golf ball,” says Bladow. “Green petals will still be visible on the peony bulbs.” As for the color choices, pick whichever ones speak to you—blooms come in every hue from pink, peach, yellow, red, and white.


Prep the Flowers

Once you bring your peonies home, you’ll want to prep them as soon as possible. “Cut the stems about ½-inch on a diagonal and remove all leaves from the stem that will touch the water,” she says. If the peonies look a bit closed, you can massage the tops of the flowers, which will encourage them to open. “Push back the outer green covering and outer petals to help the peony start to open,” she says. “Use your thumbs and apply the same amount of pressure that you would when you’re giving a shoulder rub. Just be careful not to break the bud off of the stem.”

If you’re planning to arrange later, Bladow suggests wrapping the peonies in newspaper and storing them in the refrigerator (preferably at about 37 degrees F). Another option is to wrap them in a floral cellophane bag (or if they already came in a similar bag, you can leave them there)—then put the stems in a tall vase filled with water and refrigerate.


Arrange Carefully

Be mindful that peonies have heavy flower heads. “They have sturdy stems, so you can make a grid with the stems that will support more peonies in one vase without all of them falling out,” says Bladow. “To make a grid with the stems, simply crisscross them over each other when you’re placing them in the vase.” When arranging, be careful not to pull the bottom petals off, since they provide much of the support for the heavy flower head.

Peonies look good on their own, but you can also add other flowers to your arrangement—just avoid anything sharp, like thistle, because it might damage the petals.


Keep Them Hydrated

Fill the vase with room temperature water and make sure it covers three-quarters of the stem. “Change the water about every other day and add a little extra flower food at the same time,” she says (if you don’t have any, a half-teaspoon of cane sugar will do the trick). “Each time you change the water, you should re-cut the stems on an angle to maximize vase life.”


Offer Some TLC

Place the arrangement in a cool place—the hotter the climate, the faster your flowers will wilt. Bladow suggests placing them on a front porch, or somewhere covered that still has natural light.