Dear Lee | On Peonies


To kick things off for my advice column, our very own Olivia asked me a question about her peonies:


Dear Lee,

Do you have any peony tips? The ones I got last Friday are still mostly closed, and I'm worried they're going to die before they blossom.

Best, Olivia


Dear Olivia,


Thank you for writing. First of all, yes.  I have a lot of peony tips but before I get to my general tips on peonies, let me address your main concern.


Peonies that have yet to fully blossom can be encouraged to bloom by massaging the bud.  Take special care here as you do not want to separate the bloom from the stem.  Peonies have sturdy stems but given the heft of the bloom it can be easy to decapitate them.  Gently touch the closed bloom, and your peony should respond within the day.  If not, continue to encourage it.  Try to encourage the blooms to open within two to three days or else you'll have a dying peony on your hands without the loveliness of seeing it fully bloomed.  Warm water and a warm room will also help them open up.  I hope that helps!




Buying peonies while still closed, like Olivia did, is the best way to enjoy peonies.  They are beautiful while closed, and you will enjoy them for a longer period of time than if you had purchased them fully bloomed.  It is tempting to buy them while fully bloomed, as they are gorgeous but do your best to resist.

When you bring them home place the cut flowers in cool water IMMEDIATELY.

Cut stems diagonally and remove any leaves away from the water.  Your enemy is debris in the water. Be mindful of this, especially as you trim the stems over the course of the week, or however long yours will last you.

Change the water daily, or at least keep a watchful eye on it. Never let the water dry out, this is the quickest way to kill them as they drink quite a lot.

Flower food is included for a reason.  If you love cut flowers, like I do, it's best to buy a large container of flower food so you don't have to rely on the little packets you may or may not get with your flowers.

Direct sunlight and heat will hasten their dying (unless you want to open them up quickly).  Do your best to keep them in a comfortable spot away from windows and doorways (often sunny and drafty places).  I find my dining room table or my sofa console work best.  Find a good floral spot in your house (or make one) and stick to it.

Every two to three days, you'll want to trim the stems, wash your vase, and then refill with water and remember the flower food.  This will help you extend your enjoyment of them as long as possible.

Happy Peony Season!