Peonies are my favourite flower - they're so fluffy and gorgeous! After 5 years of growing them, I thought I'd share my favourite peony growing, picking & storing tricks with you today.
How to Grow Peonies
Peonies grow from zones 3 to 8; I successfully grow them in zone 3 here in Alberta, Canada. My experience is with herbaceous peonies (the bushier, no-tree kind!), and they love full sun. Mine are on the South side of my house in full sun and they grow well there. You can find lots of peony plants at most gardening centers, and places like Walmart and Home Depot. Plant them in late Spring, and make sure you follow the directions that come with your plant to ensure you plant them at the right depth and distance apart. Just a little warning: It does take quite a while for peony plants to mature and produce giant, luscious blooms - mine took about 4 years. However, after they mature, you can enjoy your peonies for many, many years to come! The varieties I have and love are Alexander Fleming (full and bright pink) and Sarah Bernhardt (full and blush pink). For my more mature, larger plants I like to put a ring with stakes around the plant in early spring so that when the plant is large with heavy blossoms it doesn't droop.
How to Store Peonies to Bloom Later
Peonies only bloom for a couple of weeks here in late June, but one way to prolong them is by picking them at just the right time and storing them in the refrigerator. Wait until your peony bud has all its colour and is squishy to the touch, like a marshmallow. Then, cut the stem, remove all of the leaves, and wrap it gently in some plastic cling wrap. Store it horizontally in your fridge for a few weeks, and then pull it out later, place it in a vase with water, and watch its petals unfurl.
How to Get Ants Off Peonies
The best way to keep ants off of peonies you want to cut and use inside is to pick them at this same "marshmallow" bud stage and let them open up in a vase with water inside. The ants actually eat the nectar off of the peony buds to help them open, so it's important not to pick them too early if you want the petals to unfurl inside.
Another method to remove ants is to pick your peonies at their fully opened stage and then simply hang them upside down and give them a good shake. Flick any extra bugs off of the petals before bringing inside, or soak the flowers in a bucket of water outside to remove any more ants.
Watch this video to see these peony growing & storing tips in action:
I hope these tips have helped you today! Do you grow peonies or do you want to grow them? Let me know in the comments below!