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Botanical Brouhaha Expert Discussion Panel: No. 64

Jun 10, 2015

The Question:

How do you condition the peonies you use in your floral designs?



We have the good fortune of growing all our own peonies so our process is no doubt a bit different than if you are ordering them from a wholesaler. We harvest peonies several times a day while they are in high season so we can get them cut at just the right stage, which is a plump soft bud that hasn’t unfurled any petals yet. We then put them straight into buckets of cool water and store them in the cooler until we need to use them. They’ll hold in the cooler for ages, which is great so we can extend the window of time we can use them.

Jennie Love (Love ‘n Fresh Flowers)


I condition peonies like many other flowers. I strip off all leaves, give them a good cut with a sharp knife and then I place them in cold water.

Emelie Ekborg (Svenska Blomsterbloggar and Flora Inspiro)


Nothing special. I strip all the foliage and cut stem at an angle before putting into water. If the peonies come in very tight/closed then they go into a warm room for 2-3 days so that they open perfectly in time for the wedding.

Nick Priestly (Mood Flowers)


My peonies are cut and put into warm water with FloraLife preservative. If I am concerned about quality of product I use Quick Dip to revitalize them. This studio also harvests peonies from our personal gardens and we dry pack the blooms so that they may be used at a later date.

Holly Chapple (Holly Heider Chapple Flowers)


First of all, I do buy my peonies at the market, and I choose them carefully. At Paris’ flower market there is a wide range of vendors and always many varieties and level of “openness” that one can choose from. I usually buy my flowers on Thursday mornings for Saturday weddings, so I choose flowers that are already starting to open. Once back in my studio, I recut the stems and place them in fresh clean water in a room full of light at normal room temperature (about 22°C to 25°C) for them to open. I keep an eye on them and as soon as they are opened, I place them in another room, which is kept at max 18°C and in the dark. That way they stabilize and stay just right until the wedding. On very hot days (which seldom happens as the peony season ends in June here), I sometimes have to place the opened ones in the fridge at 10°C to stabilize them, which works really well. But I try to keep that technique for emergency days, when I cannot keep my dark room at a temperature below 18° C.

It always happens that a couple of stems are not as opened as the others when I buy them. In that case, I clean the sticky film on the closed blossom, remove the sepals and place the flowers in direct sunlight until they start to open. Then i treat them just like the others.

In terms of arranging with them, i always choose techniques where the peonies will be able to drink water directly. I never use Oasis foam when working with flowers such as peonies or garden roses. I prefer to have them drink freely and prefer to hand tie bouquets using kenzans or chicken wire.

When I need only a few stems, I usually cut them in my garden. In that case, I cut them opened just right and I put them in fresh water and keep them in the dark as much as possible until delivery (usually not more than 48h after cutting them). These are always the most beautiful ones that attract all the attention of my customers as when cut opened they get much bigger and leave a very lasting impression.

Laetitia Mayor (Floresie)


I don’t do much to condition peonies, just a fresh cut and place them in clean water while giving them enough room and air in the bucket to open fully. I don’t refrigerate until they are nice and open, if at all. An exception is with ‘Coral Charm’ peonies– I place them in the cooler right away as they tend to blow open quickly and their color begins to fade in the warmth. Try to steer clear of peony buds that are too tight, chances are they won’t open in time for your event.

Elisabeth Zemetis (Blush)


I only get them from local growers (so they were picked the day before) and I simply re-cut the stems and put them in lukewarm water.

Francoise Weeks (Francoise Weeks)





A special thank you today to Tulipina for all the amazing peony images!

  1. Dominique Houle

    June 10th, 2015 at 6:13 pm

    Peonies are my favorite. I cut the open ones, place them in cold water after removing all the leaves and place them in a simple vase to decorate my house, studio and my office. Like Holley Chapple, after dipping the stem in Quick Dip, I keep them in the fridge until I need them for events and weddings. They do keep very well. A few years ago, on a hot summer day, I kept the coral color in the fridge at the stage of a plump soft bud for en entire week until the wedding day production. I used them in water tubes in a long and narrow table runner. They opened up like pop corn exactly like I wanted. They were amazing, very showy and lush. They add tot the table of honour a very theatrical and romantic effect. When I follow your instinct and a few rules, sky is the limit !


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