Peony flowers have been favorites for many years. The Chinese preferred the full double blooms as a sign of position and wealth. Japanese people favored the simplicity of the single flower. In Europe, it was the fragrance of the blooms that attracted people to the flower.

Although nurseries and the box stores offer potted peony plants it is better follow the advice of the commercial peony growers and plant peony roots in September. For the first two years, a peony plant will work on building roots and foliage with very little flower display. By the third season, look for the blossoms. It will be worth the wait!

There are two divisions of peony plants. The garden peony is the standard herbaceous peony with foliage dieback in the winter. The showy tree peony has a woody structure which remains through the winter. The new itoh hybrid has both a stronger stem and earlier blooms.

Peony Arranging Tips

  • Harvest peonies in early morning or evening
  • Buds should show color and feel soft (like a marshmallow) to the touch
  • Cut stems at an angle and place into cool water for 4-6 hours in a cool, dark place
  • Peonies do best in fresh water that can be changed daily (See tip below)
  • Peony heads are heavy and need support from a wire or tape grid or vase edge
  • Save peony buds as they will open after bloom is spent
  • Make sure clippers are clean before cutting stems. Wipe with alcohol cloth.

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Garden flowers, variegated weigela and azalea with dark and pale pink peonies work together to make a monochromatic bouquet.

A favorite way to display peonies is to place kenzans (Japanese pin holders) in a low vase and highlight just a few beautiful blossoms.

Mixing peonies with other flowers can be challenging because they are so spectacular by themselves. Here ranunculus, peonies, pink floxglove, and snowball viburnum, combine to create a voluptuous display.