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peony, Common garden peony (P. lactiflora)
Common peony, Wild peony, European wild peony (P. officinalis)
blooms are large, frequently up to 6 inches in diameter, and
have tissuelike petals. Flower forms include single; double;
semidouble; Japanese (single, with large yellow centers); and
anemone (single, with powder-puff centers). Many peony varieties
emanate delightful scents.
include a multitude of pinks and reds as well as purple, salmon,
apricot, white, ivory/cream, yellow and bicolors.
properly cared for from farm to florist, peonies will give
consumers two to seven days of vase life, depending on variety
and stage of development when harvested (see Purchasing
are available from both domestic and foreign growers from March
through August, with peak season being April, May and June. Many
white varieties bloom early in the season—something to remember
when selling white peonies for special events.
Immediately remove peonies from the shipping boxes. These
flowers are susceptible to Botrytis (gray mold), which
can rot the entire flower heads. Botrytis loves dark,
moist environments, such as inside shipping boxes, and thrives
with changes in shipping temperature. Remove any flowers
contaminated with Botrytis from the bunch(es), and notify
After checking flower quality, recut the stems with a sharp
knife or pruner, removing at least 1 inch of stem. Immediately
after cutting, dip or place the stem ends into a hydration
solution, then place them into containers half filled with warm
(100 F to 110 F) properly proportioned flower-food solution. The
hydration solution will help the flowers absorb flower-food
solution after being shipped or stored dry.
After processing, place peonies into a floral cooler at 33 F to
35 F, and allow them to hydrate for at least two hours before
using or selling them. Depending on variety, peonies can begin
opening almost immediately after being placed into flower-food
solution, but immediate refrigeration can slow that process.
Peonies are heavy drinkers, so check their nutrient solution
If peonies appear wilted or otherwise water stressed, submerge
the stems, up to the blooms, in room-temperature water for 20
minutes before processing them.
Peonies do not appear to be affected by ethylene gas.
If you don’t need peonies immediately, you can store bud-stage
blooms dry (out of water) in a floral cooler at 33 F to 35 F for
up to three weeks. Opening blooms, however, must be placed into
flower-food solution immediately.
WHAT’S IN A NAME
The genus Paeonia is said to have been named for
Paeon, a physician to the Greek gods and reputed discoverer
of the flowers’ legendary medicinal properties, which were
known to cure “21 ills.”
Peonies are members of the small Paeoniaceae family,
the only other member of which is Glaucidium, a
poppylike flower. There are about 33 species of peonies (the
two most commonly grown as cut flowers are P. lactiflora
and P. officinalis), and there are approximately
HOME SWEET HOME
Peonies are native to Europe, Asia and the west coast of
North America. Today, as cut flowers, the double-flowered
varieties are the most common in the United States while the
single-flowered varieties are widely sold in Europe and
Purchase peonies in the "puffy"
stage, when the buds are about to open. Growers cut
each variety at a different stage of bud development to
ensure flower opening, but most varieties are cut in a tight
bud stage, with only a trace of color visible. This
keeps the blooms from getting damaged in transit and allows
for the longest possible vase life. Avoid opening or
fully open blossoms, but watch out for overly tight buds as
well because they will never open. Also check
carefully for signs of bruising, rot or Botrytis
Some information provided by:
The American Peony Society,
Botanica, by R.G. Turner Jr. and Ernie Wasson
Chain of Life Network® ,
Dictionary of Plant Names, by Allen J. Coombes
Hortus Third, by Liberty Hyde Bailey and Ethel Zoe Bailey
Stearn’s Dictionary of Plant Names for Gardeners, by William