Stunning Peonies: The Ultimate Guide To The Most Beautiful Flower In The World
The peony flower is feminine and fluffy and while trends come and go, peonies never go out of style. Featuring large, beautiful blooms that abundantly burst forth in spring, they traditionally symbolise good fortune and a happy marriage.
Welcome to our guide to sourcing, growing, caring for & making beautiful things with this delicious floral delight.
Stem Count: 5 / bunch
Vase life: 7-10 days
Colour range: Pinks, white, port wine and coral.
One of the most popular blooms for weddings, this plant features a large, divine flower with one head per stem, usually of a similar size to a hydrangea. Many ruffled petals form the large round bloom. Peonies are great for wedding bouquets and arrangements. Short season only. (Spring: best in November but can also be available in September and October.)
Examples of use
Peonies: The Most Popular Kid In School
You remember the prettiest girl in high school? The one all the boys went gooey-eyed for and all the girls wished they could be? Well, in the flower world, that's the peony: Pretty in pink and voted queen of the prom every year!
The thing about this flower is that they are so undeniably gorgeous and know how to keep everybody wanting more by only coming into season briefly in Spring. Starting out in a tight bud they loosen up to reveal a fluffy lushness that looks simply divine and drives brides wild with flower-lust.
Coming on colours ranging from white to pinks to deep port wine, this flower will dazzle your guests should your wedding or event fall in the hallowed season of late-October, November and maybe if you're lucky, early December.
Wikipedia says that the peony is popular in tattoos and were at one time so popular in China - where they are the national flower no less - they sold for thousands of dollars per bloom! The flowers can get to be as big as ten inches across and also have a vibrant and sweet scent. The bush can bloom for up to a century and are also prized in Asia for their medicinal properties.
But let's face it, you're probably here because it is their beauty that you care about, and there's no denying that - when they can be found - they are a many-coloured splendour and a winning combination in a floral design piece.
The Eternal Aesthetic Appeal of Peonies
While other flowers come and go, the peony just never seems to go out of style. Some say that their beauty lies in their outsized dimensions: huge, round, petals abundant, spilling out of the vase. Gardeners love the longevity of the plant. The range of colours could be part of the near-eternal appeal of this flower - everything from white to deep port wine. Event and wedding designers love the showy, flamboyant nature of this bloom; it speaks of abundance and wealth and glamour and verve, but also to ladylike genteel sensibilities; soft and delicate and feminine.
Everything You've Ever Wanted To Know About Peonies
How Many Varieties Do They Come In?
Peonies come in three types: the deciduous tree pony, the herbaceous perennial (which is what most florists use in bouquets and arrangements) and the intersectional which is a hybrid of the other two. Inside of these three categories, there are over 3,000 varieties!
What colors do Peonies come in?
They come in a wide range of colours, perhaps the most popular being soft and hot pinks as well as whites, cream and bright and deep reds. You can also get port wine and, as well, yellow peonies (often a creamy kind of yellow). You can source purple and lavender varieties also.
How to make Peony Bouquets
Obviously this is a very short summary of a skill that professional florists take years to master, but at its core, the basic written instructions are pretty simple. To create an hand-tied peony bouquet begin by deciding on your preferred colour-pallette. Then you need to choose your flowers and foliage to complement the peonies. Next up, once you got your flowers home, you need to clean the stems, perhaps removing all the leaves depending on the look you’ve got in mind. Next create the centre of your hand-tie using a few of the stems of your choice. Placing your flower combinations at a 45 degree angle, begin to create a spiral around and around. Remember to mix up the flower type as you go, creating something that speaks to your own personal style. Once you are happy with your design, carefully wrap the stems with floral tape at the centre to keep them in place. Then cut the stems a few centimetres below where the bride would hold it. Now wrap the stems with ribbon, turning the bouquet rather than the ribbon. Fold it to finish off and take a pin and secure it into the stems.
Peonies in Wedding Flowers
When peony season hits its peak, the wedding season in Australia is under way. The appeal of these flowers for use in weddings is unrelentingly perennial. Pink peonies are the favourites but not the be all and end all as other colours come and go with fashion palette trends. The peony flower traditionally represented a happy marriage, splendid health, financial riches and good luck in general. Besides, they are just so profoundly beautiful that they just seem to be everybody’s favourite. The petals that unfurl are so feathery and divinely soft, reminiscent of classical Victorian and Edwardian frills and lace, soft light playing through the willow branches by the river bank and who knows, perhaps even a cheeky Cadbury Flake under a parasol?
Depending on the season, and whether you are ok with purchasing imported products, the flower goes just as well in a winter bouquet -- perhaps paired with some lamb’s ear or gum leaves -- as it does the traditional spring and summer fair. When it comes to the price, a bouquet chock-full of this luxurious bloom is going to be expensive. But, as they are a bossy kind of flower, it makes sense from both a budget and a design viewpoint to mix them with some complementary flowers (roses play nicely with our star) and foliages of differing types.
Do peonies have a fragrance?
Not all of them have a strong scent but some have a smell that will take your breath away, finding you across the other side of a garden or room. 'Festiva Maxima', 'Eden’s Perfume' and 'Raspberry Sundae' are renowned for a lovely fragrance. Some have a ‘rosey’ smell; others give off spices, citrus or sweet aromas to delight the nose. (Depending on the nose in questions of course. Some may be too strong for those with sensitivities or allergies.)
How long do peonies last as cut flowers?
Peonies will last longer in water than most examples of the ubiquitous rose. Some varieties are fragile when cut (quick to fall apart or die) and better left in the ground however others are far more robust (Sarah Bernhard or Coral Charms, for example). If you just stick your fresh blooms in a vase and leave it at that, you might expect 6 to 10 days at best, but there are ways and means to extend the life of your cut flowers. One trick is to cut your flower as it is just starting to open (but still isn’t open). This is called the ‘marshmallow stage’ as the bud is soft and spongy like the candy. From there you can place the buds in the fridge to slow the opening time down. Obviously, the more open the flower is when you cut or receive it, the less vase life you can expect. Similarly, the more heat and the less water the flowers are exposed to, the sooner they will die. See below for more details.
Extending the Vase Life of Peonies
In order to enjoy them for the longest possible time, it is best to buy your cut peonies for vase display while they are still a fairly tight bud. While the instant gratification of already opened blooms is all very well and good, you will not enjoy the beauty of the flowers for as long as they are obviously already along the way to their inevitable and unfortunate demise.
The first thing is always to get them in some water. If they look a little the worse for wear around the leaves, this will soon perk them up again. Room temperature is best and of course, discard any paper wrapping they may arrive in. Using florist scissors, cut the stems 2 or 3 centimetres up the stem at a diagonal angle. Remove any foliage that would otherwise sit in the vase water. Please be aware that the warmer the room in which they are kept, the faster the blooms will open. If they are opening too fast, put them in a fridge or cool room. If you put them in a fridge that is too small for the vase as well, be sure to dry them stems and leaves off. Obviously you must be careful not to freeze the plants.
Want them to hurry up and open? The reverse is needed: warmth. You can replace the cold water with warm (not hot) and/or keep them in a very warm room. Again, extremes of temperature will not bode well for your precious flowers and direct sunlight will shorten their lifespan.
The vase, water and tools such as scissors should all be clean. What you’re trying to avoid is bacteria which will speed up the decomposition process, causing your flowers to die more quickly. This is why you want to keep the leaves out of the water: in water the foliage begins to break down fast, encouraging bacterial growth, which again shortens flower vase life.
How many years will it take a new peony plant to start blooming?
It depends on the variety and on planting conditions but generally it takes from 3 to 5 years before you will see any blooms in your garden.
How long do peonies last once they start blooming?
Peonies will usually be reported as lasting from seven to ten days once they bloom. The bloom time will be longer when it is cooler but abundant when it is hot, even if the profusion lasts for less time. If you are a gardener and want to see these beauties brightening up your yard for longer then there is hope. The thing to do is to plant an array of different varieties because they will not all bloom at the same time.
Why are my peonies not blooming?
There are many other factors that can affect bloom life in the garden: insects and other pests (like any passing flower obsessive who is perhaps lacking in scruples!), soil factors, not enough sunshine, not enough space (peonies need a bit of elbow room), excessive heat or cold, lack of water, too much rain during bloom time. Also peonies are notoriously unimpressed if planted too deeply in the soil.
Peonies and Ants
Growers will notice that as the flowers bloom, ants will materialise seemingly from nowhere only to run about all over the plant and the buds. No need for alarm; this is a good thing. The ants are simply there to snack on the yummy nectar that the flowers secrete. They do not harm the plant, in fact they help it. No, they are not needed to open the blooms by licking them (that’s an old wives tale) but they do help by eating other small insects that they find on or near the plant, many of which are problematic for the plant. So it’s a feast for the ants and win for the peonies!
How to Buy Quality Peonies at Wholesale Prices
The peony is loved by brides and floral designers alike. It is often on the wedding flowers wish-list but is only available at certain times of the year. Specifically local-grown product is only available during spring and is most abundantly found in November.
Here at Tesselaars we supply quality wholesale peonies (and many other flowers) to florists, wedding specialists and private customers alike. You can shop online, seeing prices as delivered to you by logging in. You will need an account to login, but this is not a difficult process. Please click here to register for either a business account (if you intend to buy regularly for business purposes) or a personal account.