About Good Scents

The cut flower business ended in 2011 but I continue to post other items about gardening.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Cutting Peonies

Peony season is coming up - in fact I cut my first peonies yesterday! I have a couple very early single peonies that sometime open as early as the first of May. One is a dark red called 'Early Scout' and the other is a creamy yellow, kind of a beige, called 'Rushlight' (pictured below). 'Early Scout' is a hybrid with the fern leaf peony and is quite short - maybe 18 inches tall. 'Rushlight' is also some kind of hybrid but is about 3 feet tall.

I bought a bunch of very early and late peonies when I started growing cut flowers because I wanted to ensure a full season of bloom. Then I learned that you can store peonies in the fridge for weeks so there is not much point in growing the late ones.

When to Cut
Peonies are supposed to be cut while still in the bud. This is sometimes called the "marshmallow stage" because the bud should feel soft but firm like a marshmallow. This usually is when the color is showing but the petals have not started to open. This phase does not last very long so you need to check every few hours if you want to catch it just right.

There are two advantages to cutting at this time. First, if you put the flowers directly into a vase they will last the longest time because they will be in the vase when they open. If you cut at the right time they usually open the next day.

The second advantage is that you can wrap the the flowers in plastic wrap or a plastic bag and store them in the refridgerator and then bring them out to bloom later. I have held them for more than a month this way. They should be tightly wrapped, but leave a couple inches of the stems exposed. when you want to use the stored peonies, unwrap them and cut a half inch off the stem, place them in water and they should open in a few hours.

How Much to Cut
When cutting peonies, you can either cut about one third of the flowers on the bush and take most of the stem, or you can cut all the flowers if you only take about a 10-12 inch stem. I usually do a few of each. The point is you need to leave enough foliage on the plant to not set it back for the following year.


Sara said...

Do you stake your peonies? I did and then they drooped to the point where the stem was breaking off. Then I had to cut some off. Now I have a tomato cage in place. I bought it from Lowes with 6 buds and now I will be down to a couple.

Where I had to cut the flowers off, will the stem regenerate itself and growm more flowers? I have plenty of foilage left.

Kirk said...

Sara, I do stake them but mine are in beds, so I stretch plastic mesh over the entire bed. The beds are about 4x25 and the mesh is about 6"x6". I try to cut mine before hey are fully open so they don't usually get weighed down too much with rain but it always happens some.

Peonies will only bloom once per year no matter what you do to them, so unfortunately you'll have to wait until next year for more flowers.

Anonymous said...

Does cutting blooms stimulate further blooming or will it not continue to produce?

Kirk said...

Sorry, have not been checking this for comments. Peonies bloom only once per year so cutting them will not stimulate them to bloom again.

Anonymous said...

When and how far down on the stem do you cut faded peony blossoms?