Garden bouquet tips
Peonies are great cut flowers, and the classic varieties were selected especially for this purpose. Some varieties are well known. Certainly worthy of mention are Sarah Bernhardt and Duchesse de Nemours. If you are looking for a more exotic look to entertain your guests or indulge yourself, Coral Sunset and Red Grace are certainly worth considering.
Cutting peonies implies removing leaves from your plant, and less leaves mean less growth next year. Hence, it is wise to cut no more than 30% of the stems.
Timing is essential. The best time to cut a flower bud is linked to the shape of the flower. The rule is: more petals imply more patience. Single flowers should have a somewhat firm bud when cut. Double flowers should feel like a marshmallow, and bombs may reveal a hint of colour. This, however, is not an exact science!
Remove all excess leaves, cut the stems and place the stems in a very clean vase filled with water at room temperature. Flower food helps extend their vase life, as does changing the water daily. Place the vase in a draught-free location, not exposed to direct sunlight. If possible, place the cut flowers in a cool place overnight.
Delay or rush flowering
If in a hurry for flowers, use slightly warmer water, and place the flowers in a somewhat warmer room.
To delay flowering, cut the flowers in bud in the morning and keep them dry. Cut off the lower leaves. Place the flower buds in paper towels, in a large plastic container. Place the container in the coldest part of your refrigerator, Oº C if possible. It is important that the container is airtight. Ethylene gasses produced by fruits speed up the development of flowers. The flower buds can remain in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks. This can be extended to six weeks, depending on the variety. Take the flowers out of the refrigerator a day before you need them, and treat them as described above. This is the procedure I used, but it is not foolproof. Nothing beats a peony freshly picked from your garden of the field early in the morning.
If you want grow your own "field" of flowers, feel free to browse our online selection of peonies for a daring garden bouquet.