Is there a flower more majestic and commanding in presence than the peony? Surely not! These things are absolutely gorgeous. I first discovered them a few weeks after I discovered the lilac when I nannied for that amazing family after college! They had these plants that produced the biggest and most fragrant flowers. I had no idea what they were called but I knew that I was in love! I waited a few days to cut a few and propped them up by my bedside table. 98,000 giant ants and a few days later, they lost all of their petals at the same time and fell on the carpet! It was a bummer. I had no idea that years later, I’d learn that I could put peonies in the fridge to enjoy them in summer.
Last year, around this time, I was speaking with one of my clients and she told me that her friend had saved loads of peonies for her daughter’s wedding in August by refrigerating them and they turned out beautifully! What?! Why did I not know of this? My mind immediately went back to all those times the rain came and weighed down all of my peonies to the point of no return. I went home, did some research and was able to save some peonies until I took them out in July! Here’s how you can save peonies to enjoy later in the summer.
There are 2 kinds of peonies. Double peonies are the ones that are most full. They have at least 2 rows of petals. Singles are the ones that are like anemones. They only have 1 row of petals. Because of this, they will respond differently to this method. You want to pick the flower when they are still in the bud stage but at different stages for each of the kinds.
Step 1: Pick the right bud stage
Single peonies are not as full and so they can be picked at what is called the hard bud stage. This means that you can pick them when the green sepal has just separated and a little line of the petals are showing. Doubles should be picked at a later time. They should be picked at the soft bud stage. Some people call this the marshmallow stage. At this point, you want to press lightly on the bud and see if it is squishy or feels kind of like a marshmallow. At this stage, the sepal is completely separated and the petals are starting to loosen up. See the pictures below for a bud in the soft bud stage. This will require a bit of experimentation because some flowers can be picked at too hard of a stage and never open. Some others can be picked at too soft of a stage and they open too quickly. The goal is to pick them at the perfect stage so that you get the maximum amount of storage life from them. If you can find that stage, you can store flowers for up to 4 weeks in your home refrigerator and if you have a special refrigerator where you can ensure that the temperature stays at 32 degrees fahrenheit, then you can save them for up to 4 or 5 months.
Step 2. Cut them when there is no dew on them.
Early morning is not the right time to pick them because of the dew. Pick them right before the evening dew starts. This will keep them from being moist when they go in the refrigerator. The moistness can turn into frost.
Step 3. Store dry or in water.
At this point, you have options. You can store them in a little bit of water, making sure that no leaves are in the water and place them in the fridge and wait. The other option is to wrap them in newspaper, secure with a rubber band and lay flat on the fridge shelf. I have only done the first method but both should work
Step 4. Take them out and enjoy
Hopefully, if you picked them at the right stage, you can pull them out exactly when you need them. I would recommend starting with 3 weeks to a month and then see if you can go longer. In other words, if you know that 3 to 4 weeks from now, you have an event that you would like to host and you’d love to have peonies, try this method and see if they last for you. If you are successful, try to go for longer. At the moment, I am in the process of trying to collect enough for a conference 4 1/2 months from now! Wish me luck.
The internet sure does have a way of leading trends, right? Just as everyone now loves shiplap, everyone’s favorite flower is the peony! Trend or not, how can you not love peonies? Have you seen them? Have you smelled them? Of course, it does not help that they are only around for like 2 weeks out of the year. They are like girls scout cookies. We all go crazy for them because they are so limited. Are there other cookies just as good or perhaps better than girl scout cookies? Who cares!? The point is that they are around for a limited time once a year and we all lose our minds! I hope that this tutorial helps you to enjoy these beauties a few weeks longer than you would have!
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