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Getting Your Peonies to Last Longer (In the Summer Heat)

By: Justin Lievano, UrbanStems Floral Designer

June 28, 2024

Obviously, we all love peonies! We do, and there’s no mistaking why – the abundant spilling petals, the delicate fragrance, the lacy blooms all make peonies as special as they are. But the one place where peonies lack is vase life. Where a rose might last 7-10 days in a vase with water changes and daily stem trimming, peonies typically top out at 5 days. And that’s a bummer! But I’m here to share all I know about keeping them looking fresh for as long as possible. 

Pink peonies arranged in a white vase on a table with cake

1. Proper hydration is key

Once your get your peonies, it’s important to cut and hydrate them properly. First, you must cut the stems with a sharp knife or floral shears. Kitchen scissors will crush the stems and prevent proper hydration.

  • If your stems have foliage, you’ll want to strip most of it, except for any leaves just below the bloom. This will help force water to the bloom.
  • Also, peonies are not lilies and do not look good displayed tall. If your peonies are sitting 6 or more inches above the lip of the vase, they probably look a little scant and wonky. Shorten your stems so that they sit closer to the vase; this will help accelerate the hydration process and help your arrangement look better. 
Pink peony bouquet by UrbanStems set on a dinner party table.

2. Patience is everything

Patience is everything when it comes to your peonies blooming. I realize that I’ve shared tips before about getting your peonies to open quickly (e.g. hydrating or bathing them in warm water), and they are effective! But forcing your peonies to bloom will shorten their vase life. You’d be better off trimming your peony stems and hydrating them in a mixture of cool water and flower food. Let them hydrate in their own time, and trim the stems every other day or so, and eventually even the most stubborn peonies can open.

  • Be sure to use your flower food! It has a mixture of preservatives that keep the water fresh and sugars to feed the stems. Some flowers, like tulips, are sensitive to flower food but peonies definitely benefit. 

3. Temperature is crucial for your peonies

Once they’re cut and in water, keep your flowers cool and keep the temperature consistent. Warmth will increase bacterial growth in the vase water (as it does with any flowers), but warm temperatures also encourage peonies to open and drop their petals more quickly. So keep these cuties out of the sun. 

  • On the note of consistency, some flowers tolerate being put into the fridge overnight (like a makeshift florist cooler), but peonies are not fans of changing temperatures! The shifts in temperature and humidity between your home and your fridge will age your peonies faster.

4. The Kitchen is no place for a peony

OK, this isn’t always true, but it applies if you have any ripening produce in your kitchen. Did you leave some avocados out? Are there bananas hanging nearby? Keep them away from peonies! All aging produce (including flowers) emit ethylene gas, which ripens produce and wilts flowers more quickly than normal. Bowls of fruit on the counter are lovely, but keep your peonies elsewhere in the house. 

Pink peony bouquet by UrbanStems set on a dinner party table.
Hand holding bouquet of white peony flowers.

5. Remember these are products of nature

Once in a while, you might have a peony or two that doesn’t bloom and in those moments it’s important to remember that very few of mother nature’s products are perfect. Peonies are special because of their incredible blooms, like I mentioned before, but they’re also special because they require more delicate care and focused labor than almost any other flower. They require a winter season to ensure a bloom the next year (and thus can’t be grown in greenhouses), they require direct sunlight to bloom well, and the first bloom of the season isn’t predictable from year to year. Farmers have to choose exactly the right moment to harvest, so that they don’t risk the bloom developing too much. All this is to say, give your peonies the grace to be the unique and special blooms they are.

Feeling inspired to surround yourself with some summer peonies? You can shop our entire Peony Collection and enjoy these delicate, lacy blooms.

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