A Peony Experiment

Peonies are stunning in floral arrangements, and I love the gorgeous peonies that grow in our garden.

But I always hesitate to bring the cut flowers inside because invariably there will be an insect or two hiding among the petals and, once inside, crawling across the dinner table. And this happens even if I cut a blossom when it’s just starting to unfold.

Tips from the Experts

While reading an article on peonies in the May issue of Better Homes and Gardens, something caught my attention:

It said I could cut the flowers while they are still closed buds that are just starting to show  color.

Great, I thought, no bug could penetrate a tightly closed bud without leaving a telltale hole.  Finally I could enjoy insect-free peonies indoors.

Allsop Home & Garden

But even more interesting, the article went on to say that these buds could be put in water and refrigerated.  Then when desired, they could be brought out and put in lukewarm water and they would bloom within a day – a great way to “time” a peony arrangement to have it blooming for a special occasion.

So I decided to give all this a try and share my findings.

The Experiment Begins

I cut three buds from my Flame peony.  They were all tightly closed but already showing a fair amount of that deep neon pink that makes the flowers so striking.

Forcing Peonies to Bloom Indoors

One bud that I clipped was rejected because it was showing signs that an insect had penetrated it.  But the hole was easy to spot.

Then I clipped three buds from the Golden Treasure peony.  This peony is a real stunner when it blooms.

I pushed the envelope by clipping one bud that was showing substantial color, one bud that was showing just a scant amount of color, and one with no color showing.

Forcing Peonies to Bloom Indoors

I placed the buds in water and into the fridge they all went.

Three days later, the day before Mother’s Day, I took them out of the fridge, trimmed the ends, and placed them in lukewarm water.  My goal was to have them blooming by the time I hosted cake and coffee on Mother’s Day.

Did it work?

With the Flame peonies, it worked beautifully.  Within a day, they were blooming like champs.

Forcing Peonies to Bloom Indoors

So going from the cold fridge to lukewarm water must speed up the bloom time.

The Golden Treasure bud that had the most color when I cut it was also blooming gorgeously within a day.

The one with just a hint of color also bloomed, but it took a few days.  The one with no color has not budged.  So it’s better to start with buds that have more color.

Forcing Peonies to Bloom Indoors

I would rate this experiment a success.  And from now on, this is how I will always handle bringing peonies indoors.

Of course another way to avoid insects in peonies is to use artificial flowers.  Any why not when they look so beautiful and realistic – and they never wilt.

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6 Replies to “A Peony Experiment”

  1. Such fun and interesting info! I knew that you could pick the buds and they would still bloom, but had no idea about the refrigerator trick. Thanks for sharing with SYC.

    1. Anny, I used to feel the same way until I found out how to bring them inside without the bugs coming along. I learned recently that sometimes you can even dry them indoors. I’m going to try that next. They are so beautiful.

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