Enjoy these gorgeous flowers longer with our tips and tricks for keeping them as fresh as possible once they're picked.

By BH&G Garden Editors
Updated January 07, 2020
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A bouquet of big, beautiful, spring-blooming peonies always brightens up a room. We love to place a vase of them where we can admire the flowers' ruffly textures and vibrant colors up close. Whether harvested from your own cutting garden or purchased at a favorite florist's shop, peonies can last a surprisingly long time—provided they're given the proper care. Here's how to choose the best flowers and keep them fresh so you can enjoy them for as long as possible. Plus, we've got some bonus advice for encouraging the buds to open faster.

Blaine Moats

1. Buy Peony Buds

Peonies will last longest when bought or harvested while they're still in bud form. Don't be afraid to gently touch the buds before buying—if they're soft (think the texture of a marshmallow), that means they're close to opening. Avoid ones that feel hard like a marble because they may not be developed enough to open once picked. Buds aren't always pretty, and slight deformities—like little brown spots—are normal. And if you're picking your own backyard peonies, head out in the morning to look for buds. If you wait until later in the day, there's a better chance that the flowers will have opened up by then.

2. DIY Flower Food

If you lost track of that little food packet that came with your flowers, don't fret. You can make your own by adding a spoonful of regular granulated sugar to the water to make your cut flowers last longer. This will mimic the sugar rush that occurs during photosynthesis, helping to keep the flowers fresh. Just be sure to replace the water every two days, because mixing in sugar can encourage bacteria to grow.

3. Keep Peonies Cold

Like many fresh flowers, stashing peonies in the fridge at night is a guaranteed way to help them last longer. But you can take the trick a step further. Try cutting fresh peony buds while they're soft, wrapping them in newspaper, and storing them in the refrigerator until you're ready to use them. They won't open up in the fridge, but you can preserve them for an extra day or two if you need them to last for a garden party or get-together.

4. Avoiding Ants on Peonies

If you're collecting peonies from a garden, beware of unwanted pests that might make a home on your blooms. Ants and peonies have an especially notorious relationship. The insects are attracted to nectar that the buds release as they open. Place the cut peony stems in water and leave them outside for 20-30 minutes before bringing them inside to give the ants plenty of time to migrate off the flowers.

5. Cut Stems at an Angle

For maximum water absorption, cut your peony stems at an angle. This trick increases the surface area of the cut, helping the blooms absorb more water and nutrients. Do this every other day to help remove any clogs at the base of the stems.

Anthony Masterson

Bonus: How to Open Peonies Up Faster

You're throwing a dinner party and bought or cut a batch of peonies, still in bud form. It's the day before your party, and the buds have yet to bloom—what do you do? To speed up the process, trim the stems and put them directly into warm water. Put the flowers, vase and all, in a warm place in direct sunlight and check on them periodically. Once they start opening, you can move them to wherever you'd like them to be.

With our advice, you can hold off droopy flowers for as long as possible. Each of these five tips should extend the lives of your cut peonies by at least a few days. And if you want them to last even longer, make sure you plant peonies in your garden this year so you can enjoy them for an entire season!

Comments (2)

Anonymous
May 3, 2020
I have 44 rose bushes, numerous bulb plants (summer and spring blooming), several perennials , and 3 different colors of peonies. The peonies are the delight of my spring garden. Thank you for tips on making them last longer!!
Anonymous
January 20, 2020
I love peonies. In fact, I have ten shrubs. But I never have them for an "entire season." They bloom in early Summer, and bloom for a few weeks, maybe a month. I'd love to know how to keep them blooming longer.