Harmony in the Garden Blog

Refrigerate Peony Buds for Months of Blooms

Today I’m sharing something I tried for the first time ever – how to refrigerate peony buds for months of blooms.  

And, as a bonus, at the end of this post I’ll share some amazing varieties with you that you may or may not have heard of before!

What prompted me to try refrigerating peony buds was the fact that my mother’s peonies were in full bloom just as we were scrambling to get her packed up and moved.

I knew we were SO busy and overwhelmed with moving that there was no way we could fully enjoy their fleeting beauty. 

 

deer resistant perennial

I’ve read about this technique before, as a way to temporarily hold them in limbo for up to 8 weeks, so we picked loads to take with us and experimented away.

I was thrilled with the results! 

Here are just a few of the peonies six weeks after refrigerating them in April.

In this bouquet, I intentionally added other summer-blooming flowers (agapanthus and phlox) to prove that they did, indeed, last until July!

Once the dust settled from the big move, it was so meaningful to have one last bouquet of my mother’s favorite peonies.

So if you have peonies right now, I highly recommend trying this easy technique to enjoy them over the next few months.

As you’ll see below, the process is quite simple.

1)  First and foremost, it’s all about timing and the stage in which you pick the peony buds.

You don’t want to use fully open flowers (like the one, left) as they won’t survive the weeks of chilling, having already spent their energy fully opening up.

You don’t want to use tight buds, either (like the ones below) as they’ll never open once refrigerated.  

Just like Goldilocks, you want to pick the opening buds when they’re ‘just right’.  

deer resistant perennial

What’s ‘just right‘?

I’ve heard some describe the ideal firmness of the bud to a marshmallow. Which, honestly, is surprisingly accurate.

What I do is take the bud between two fingers and lightly press down with your thumb to see just how dense it feels (left.)

Here’s the exception:  When refrigerating a double-flowered variety (like my ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ left), choose buds that are a little more open than single petal varieties.

Also, cut the stem as long as you can, as you’ll need to trim them again when you remove them from the refrigerator.

deer resistant perennial

2)  Strip away the leaves and loosely roll the flowers in a layer of paper towels.

I’ll leave one or two leaves at the top, but basically you don’t want the foliage to rob the flower of its precious energy.

The paper towels should be dry to absorb any and all moisture.

Moisture is the ENEMY of this process, resulting in a most unfortunate surprise when you pull them out (ie: mushy, rotting flowers!)

refrigerate peony buds

3)  Gently cover the flower heads & stems with two plastic bags.

Carefully tie both of the bags closed.  Again, the goal is to prevent moisture from getting inside and ruining the flowers.

I placed my flowers in my refrigerator’s vegetable bin, and they were perfect when I pulled them out 6-weeks later.

When it’s time to remove them, trim the stems at least 2-3 inches before placing in a vase.

Sit back, and enjoy!   

Here are some of my favorite varieties that do well in my zone-9 garden

refrigerate peony bulbs

If you live in a hot and dry area, like my zone-9 garden, it can be a little trickier to grow peonies.

Peonies like a fair amount of moisture and don’t want full afternoon sun or they’ll burn. 

And on top of these requirements, they require a bit of winter chill.  Something my winters usually can’t provide.

However, it can be done! 

My peonies are on the same irrigation schedule as the rest of my garden, receiving water twice a week (or sometimes three times a week during the hottest months.)

If it’s super hot for weeks on end, I might give them an extra bit of water, but honestly I usually forget and they’ve fared just fine. 

refrigerate peony buds

‘Felix Crousse’

My all-time favorite peony is ‘Felix Crousse’, which was a division from my mother’s garden. 

As you can see, it’s a prolific bloomer with pillowy-soft, vibrant, dark magenta blooms. 

refrigerate peony buds

In fact, several years ago, I posted this photo on Facebook (left) and polled people about whether they liked the pink/orange combination or not?

I received SO MANY comments that were split down the middle between the lovers and the haters. 

There’s something about pink and orange that seems to send some people over the edge!

Personally, I love this color combo and don’t think it clashes at all. 

If you look at the color wheel (left) you can see the purple/pink color is adjacent to the reddish-orange colors (aka: analogous.) 

Analogous colors typically include groups of three that are next to one another on the color wheel.  The result is a harmoniously pleasing combination. 

Even so, people still seem to have a strong reaction combining pink and orange!

refrigerate peony buds

Peony ‘Sarah Bernhardt’

My second favorite peony is ‘Sarah Bernhardt.’

Quite honestly, she’d tie for 1st place except in my garden she’s taken her sweet time to get established. 

Apparently this is common when dividing peonies (sometimes taking up to 5 years!) but since Felix didn’t waste a moment giving me tons of blooms, he wins 1st place. 

The huge, full, double-form flowers are the softest pink imaginable and are the epitome of elegance.

When I cup a bloom in my hand, it’s like holding a little bird – it’s that light and soft.

In my garden, I particularly like surrounding the dark green leaves with the soft, velvety foliage of senecio ‘Silver Gleam’ (left.) 

refrigerate peony buds

There’s so many ways to echo or contrast ‘Sarah Bernhardt’s’ soft colors.   

For example, in my mother’s garden, she created a vibrant, contrasting pink color echo by placing a towering weigela ‘French Lace’ behind the peony.

Peony

In the example (left) both ‘Felix Crousse’ and ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ are planted near the chartreuse foliage and bright pink flowers of a spirea ‘Goldflame.’

The result is a long-lasting, eye-popping spring combination.

In another part of the garden, a much softer color echo is created by combining the creamy white blooms of a climbing ‘Sally Holmes’ rose with the ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ (below.)

Peony
peonies

Itoh Peonies ‘Creme a l’orange’

Over the past few years, I’ve fallen in love with Itoh peonies (named for the man who bred them,  Dr. Toichi Itoh.)

In a nutshell, Itoh peonies (also called intersectionals) share qualities of both the tree and herbaceous peony varieties.

They’re vigorous growers with profuse and oversized flowers (sometimes blooming twice!) with lush, deeply-lobed foliage. 

Their stems also seem more substantial than other peonies and don’t require as much staking as other peonies do (a plus in heavy rain!)

‘Crème a l’orange’ (left) has thrived under the oak trees in my garden.

Its flower has the most exceptional colors, in shades of soft apricot and orange.  A heavy bloomer, the flowers last for three to four weeks, beginning  mid-April.

refrigerate peonies

My Itoh peonies bloom much earlier than regular peonies, starting in early April and lasting through May.

You can see how I’ve created an orange color echo between the peony blooms and the sterile variety of berberis ‘Orange Rocket’ in the distance.

refrigerate peony buds

Itoh Peonies ‘Canary Brilliants’

This is a newer Itoh peony addition to my garden and is one with a very unusual flower. 

When it first opens, the double-form flower is in soft shades of peach and apricot – for about a week. 

But then (seemingly overnight) it turns into a buttery yellow color with no hints of peach at all. 

Take a look below at the same plant, one week apart – it looks like an entirely different flower, doesn’t it?

I guess the word ‘canary’ should’ve tipped me off! 

I’ve planted ‘Canary Brilliants’ near a drift of carex ‘Everillo’ to echo its bright chartreuse colors.

refrigerate peony buds
refrigerate peony buds
peonies

As most peonies can easily become top-heavy when laden with blooms, I place these plant supports (from Gardener’s Supply) over the top of the newly-emerging plants.  

While there’s less-expensive versions available elsewhere, they’re not nearly as sturdy, easily bending when trying to stick them in the ground.  

Within just a few weeks the foliage quickly hides the rings, providing a summer’s worth of support. 

I also use these supports with lots of other perennials in my garden, too, such as verbena bonariensis, solidago ‘Firecracker, amsonnia, coreopsis, etc.   

peonies

Peony ‘Chinese Dragon’

Be still my heart!

I recently spotted this tree peony at the Bellevue Botanical Garden, and just about passed out when I saw it also had chocolate-colored foliage.  

Covered with giant dark crimson blooms, this peony was the star of the garden.

If you’d like to read a great article from the New York Botanic Garden about how to grow tree peonies (which aren’t actually trees, but large shrubs) click here.

Alas, tree peonies don’t do well in my zone-9 garden as they want more shade and more water (not to mention cooler winter temps.)  

peonies

Paeonia suffruticosa ‘Age of Gold’

 

Also spotted at the Bellevue Botanical Garden was this ‘Age of Gold’ tree peony.

It’s cheery yellow blooms and bright green, oversized foliage are the perfect thing to brighten up a shady garden.

 

deer resistant perennial

Even when those amazing peony flowers are a thing of the past, I appreciate the oversized, dark green foliage that remains intact throughout my long, hot summers. 

The plants rarely wilt in the heat and provide a lush atmosphere.

AND, did I mention they’re deer-resistant, too?

peony fall foliage

And once the cooler temps of fall finally arrive, many varieties reward you all over again with another burst of color.

For more information about peonies, click here for Margaret Roach’s informative interview with peony expert, Jeff Jabco.

And if you love ball-shaped flowers as much as I do, click here to see more of my favorites.

 

bulbs

BONUS:  Peony TULIPS

And finally, here’s a bouquet of flowers that look like peonies, but they’re not!

They’re peony tulips and are probably the most gorgeous tulips I’ve ever seen.

They not only lasted for 2 weeks in a vase, but take a peek below to see how they dried.

Yes, dried!

bulbs

Isn’t this incredible?

After the 3rd week or so, I noticed the tulips were drying in place, with absolutely stunning variations in color.

The pink color migrated to the edges of each petal, where it’s remained, drying in place for an eye-stopping arrangement.

People can’t believe what they’re seeing when I tell them these are dried tulips!

I’ve never tried this with other varieties, but you can bet I’m going to next spring!

 

Gorgeous blooms, reliable foliage, and fall color?  What’s not to love about peonies! 

I realize I’ve only touched upon the vast topic of peonies, so please feel free to share with us your favorites and any tips you might have!

Enjoyed this article?  Please share it with others: 

Please leave a comment below

28 Comments

  • Rebecca, your garden of peonies was spectacular. I gave up my garden 25 year’s ago when we moved to a gated Senior community( ( The Villages ) in San Jose. Had I known what a loss that would became, I would never have lived anywhere without a garden, no matter how small. To add “insult to injury” the sweet peas called
    “ April in Pars” that I babied since December produced 5 miserable wee white ones in a long planter pot. So, I will continue to enjoy other persons gardens, and continue to look forward to your beautiful blooms, and maybe next year try drying some. Thank you for a super article. Jean

    Reply
    • Jean, how nice to hear from you! I had the absolutely worst luck with sweet peas this year. I special ordered several packets of gorgeous heirloom colors, ammended the soil with lots of worm castings, planted the seeds in the fall (which usually results in armloads of gorgeous blooms) and not a SINGLE one came up!!! So you’re not along there – at least you got 5 sad little flowers (that’s 5 more than I did!) Sending you big hugs! xoxo

      Reply
  • Three years ago I planted Canary Brilliants in my garden. This year they are really coming into their own! I didn’t expect the yellow but I just love it. They are stunning.

    Reply
    • Hi Becky, mine has also take a couple of years to finally get going. I love how the flower’s color changes over just a few days, stunning indeed!

      Reply
  • Hi Rebecca!
    I gotta agree! Pink and orange together work! I’ve got Tiger Lilies throughout my property. They pair quite nicely with any pink flower they grow next to.
    My house came with a beautiful peony of a very deep red-violet. I have no idea what the name of it is (it looks like your ‘ Felix Crousse’). I love the color! It has never needed any staking/peony hoop. Whoever had originally planted it put it in a place that would make it crowded out by a shrub. (It was growing under the arching branches of a Spirea). Rather than disfigure the shrub with excessive pruning, I decided to risk moving the peony this last fall. There were like six foot-long taproots that I had a heck of a time digging a hole big enough for and then the foliage flopped so I cut that to the ground and mulched it all in, and……It came back! And, it bloomed! It’s about half its usual size this year and the blooms were fewer and more fleeting. But success! Despite my amateur gardening skills.
    I bought a “Sara Bernhardt” several years ago. Still waiting…..

    Reply
    • Hi Gayle, hooray for successfully moving your peony! They can definitely take a few years to recover form being transplanted so if next year’s flowers are fewer still, don’t lose hope. It’ll be worth the wait, for sure! Sara also takes her sweet time getting established but once she does – look out!

      Reply
  • I love this article! I can’t grow peonies in Tucson, but just reading about them brings back the joy of my childhood when our elderly neighbor, Mr. Powell, would bring armfuls of peonies to my mom to brighten up our little house as long as his many plants were in bloom. We would all grin ear to ear and our home smelled heavenly! To have been able to keep the joy and fragrance in our home for longer periods of time would have been fabulous. Thank you

    Reply
    • What a wonderful memory you have, Sheila. My mother would give armloads of the ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ away to her neighbors (and me, of course!) and what a gift!!! Hope all is well with you and your family! 🙂

      Reply
  • Hi!
    This is my first time commenting and wanted to share my thoughts on the pink/orange combo. I love those colors together but mostly only if one of the two colors is tinted, ex. bright pink with apricot or bright orange with pale pink. Otherwise I think a third color needs to be added to either “marry” the two colors together, such as pale yellow or pale blue, or if there is a contrasting color, such as cobalt blue. And I must admit I really have trouble with the pink/orange combo if the shade of pink is a light purply pink, like tulbaghia, or putting bubble gum pink with “schoolbus” yellow/orange. I’ve obviously put a lot of thought into this!
    Thank you for your articles, I enjoy them immensely!
    Lesley

    Reply
    • Hi Lesley, I really appreciate your thoughts on the pink/orange combo and you’ve made some great points about adding a third color to help blend the two together. There’s just so much to color theory, isn’t there? I’m glad you’re enjoying my blog, thank you!

      Reply
  • Inspired by you, I just mixed some peony plants in with my Japanese maples, gardenia and pittosporum. They look beautiful and offer a different texture and height along with beautiful flowers. Looking forward to trying my hand at the refrigeration process next year! I hope you had fun at you nieces wedding in Seattle. I know how much you adore her and her mother.

    Reply
    • hahahaha – yes, I do adore that sweet neice but her mother is a piece of work. 😉 I’m so glad you now have a beautiful bouquet – the Japanese maples are a fantastic idea, mixing wispy textures with the big, fluffy balls of flowers. (btw: her flowers are drying nicely, as are the citrus slices. can’t wait until a few more weeks when I can take them out of the press!)

      Reply
  • I knew that peony blooms could be refrigerated but was unaware they could be held for as long as 6 – 8 weeks. Growers always pick peonies in bud for easier shipment.
    Many years ago I read an article by a lady who was frustrated because her peony buds would never open. Finally one day she decided to make an arrangement using just the buds. To her amazement the buds eventually opened. I don’t remember what zone she lived in. Also, if you live in warmer zones (like my zone 9), be careful to cover the “eyes” with no more than 1″ of soil or they will never produce blooms. Thank you for the informative article!

    Reply
    • Hi Sharon, In the video I attached I believe the lady said she’s kept then longer than 8 weeks – if I ever grew enough I might experiment with the timing (but I’m usually so frugal with the blooms I have, I’d hate to ruin them by refrigerating them too long!) Great tip about not covering the ‘eyes’, thank you.

      Reply
  • I love pink and orange together! Can’t wait to try refrigerating some peonies next spring. I would never have guessed this was possible. Great article, thank you Rebecca!

    Reply
    • Hi Cathy – I couldn’t believe it either, but yes it definitely works! Pink and orange is winning in the polls, btw. 😉

      Reply
  • I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE peonies but I’ve just moved to Palm Desert — can I grow them here or is it just too hot and dry for them to survive?

    Reply
    • Hi Joan, I did a quick google search and while I thought you couldn’t grow them in Palm Desert, it seems you might be able to. I’m shocked! You should definitely pursue it a bit to see if that’s true, and if so I’d love to hear about any success you have! Fingers crossed for you! 🙂

      Reply
  • Rebecca, you delight your readers with the most wonderful gardening articles over and over. Thank you for what you take the time to do! I always am happy to see your name in my emails!

    Reply
    • What a lovely comment, Marilee, thank you for making my day. I’m so happy you enjoy my blog. It’s a labor of love, to be sure, I only wish I had more time to write as I have so much to share! Happy Gardening – Rebecca

      Reply
  • Great info on peonies. I just read the Jeff Jabco article too. Are the peonies you describe in your article tree peonies? I know nothing about peonies and when I get some I want things to be done right. I live in zone 9 too.
    thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Chris, The first two I mentioned are regular peonies (the ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ and ‘Felix Crousse’) but the Itoh peonies are the ‘intersectionals’ which are a blend of regular and tree peonies. I’ve never planted a tree peony and am thinking I might need to try that next! Not all varieties will bloom in warmer zone 9 climates, but the ones I mentioned worked really well. You might try googling warmer climate varieties to make sure you don’t buy some that really want that winter chill. Best of luck! 🙂

      Reply
  • Thank you for this timely email! The peony buds in my zone 5b garden are just beginning to open. I will definitely try refrigerating some of the blossoms for later enjoyment. Love it!

    Reply
    • I’m so glad the timing was right, Dorothy – I meant to share this a few weeks ago but just couldn’t find the time. I was afraid I was too late! Good luck refrigerating yours – I hope they turn out as nice as mine did 🙂

      Reply
  • I love the color combo! And I love reading this blog!
    How interesting about refrigerating peonies! Thank you for sharing!
    N

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

28 Comments

  • Rebecca, your garden of peonies was spectacular. I gave up my garden 25 year’s ago when we moved to a gated Senior community( ( The Villages ) in San Jose. Had I known what a loss that would became, I would never have lived anywhere without a garden, no matter how small. To add “insult to injury” the sweet peas called
    “ April in Pars” that I babied since December produced 5 miserable wee white ones in a long planter pot. So, I will continue to enjoy other persons gardens, and continue to look forward to your beautiful blooms, and maybe next year try drying some. Thank you for a super article. Jean

    Reply
    • Jean, how nice to hear from you! I had the absolutely worst luck with sweet peas this year. I special ordered several packets of gorgeous heirloom colors, ammended the soil with lots of worm castings, planted the seeds in the fall (which usually results in armloads of gorgeous blooms) and not a SINGLE one came up!!! So you’re not along there – at least you got 5 sad little flowers (that’s 5 more than I did!) Sending you big hugs! xoxo

      Reply
  • Three years ago I planted Canary Brilliants in my garden. This year they are really coming into their own! I didn’t expect the yellow but I just love it. They are stunning.

    Reply
    • Hi Becky, mine has also take a couple of years to finally get going. I love how the flower’s color changes over just a few days, stunning indeed!

      Reply
  • Hi Rebecca!
    I gotta agree! Pink and orange together work! I’ve got Tiger Lilies throughout my property. They pair quite nicely with any pink flower they grow next to.
    My house came with a beautiful peony of a very deep red-violet. I have no idea what the name of it is (it looks like your ‘ Felix Crousse’). I love the color! It has never needed any staking/peony hoop. Whoever had originally planted it put it in a place that would make it crowded out by a shrub. (It was growing under the arching branches of a Spirea). Rather than disfigure the shrub with excessive pruning, I decided to risk moving the peony this last fall. There were like six foot-long taproots that I had a heck of a time digging a hole big enough for and then the foliage flopped so I cut that to the ground and mulched it all in, and……It came back! And, it bloomed! It’s about half its usual size this year and the blooms were fewer and more fleeting. But success! Despite my amateur gardening skills.
    I bought a “Sara Bernhardt” several years ago. Still waiting…..

    Reply
    • Hi Gayle, hooray for successfully moving your peony! They can definitely take a few years to recover form being transplanted so if next year’s flowers are fewer still, don’t lose hope. It’ll be worth the wait, for sure! Sara also takes her sweet time getting established but once she does – look out!

      Reply
  • I love this article! I can’t grow peonies in Tucson, but just reading about them brings back the joy of my childhood when our elderly neighbor, Mr. Powell, would bring armfuls of peonies to my mom to brighten up our little house as long as his many plants were in bloom. We would all grin ear to ear and our home smelled heavenly! To have been able to keep the joy and fragrance in our home for longer periods of time would have been fabulous. Thank you

    Reply
    • What a wonderful memory you have, Sheila. My mother would give armloads of the ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ away to her neighbors (and me, of course!) and what a gift!!! Hope all is well with you and your family! 🙂

      Reply
  • Hi!
    This is my first time commenting and wanted to share my thoughts on the pink/orange combo. I love those colors together but mostly only if one of the two colors is tinted, ex. bright pink with apricot or bright orange with pale pink. Otherwise I think a third color needs to be added to either “marry” the two colors together, such as pale yellow or pale blue, or if there is a contrasting color, such as cobalt blue. And I must admit I really have trouble with the pink/orange combo if the shade of pink is a light purply pink, like tulbaghia, or putting bubble gum pink with “schoolbus” yellow/orange. I’ve obviously put a lot of thought into this!
    Thank you for your articles, I enjoy them immensely!
    Lesley

    Reply
    • Hi Lesley, I really appreciate your thoughts on the pink/orange combo and you’ve made some great points about adding a third color to help blend the two together. There’s just so much to color theory, isn’t there? I’m glad you’re enjoying my blog, thank you!

      Reply
  • Inspired by you, I just mixed some peony plants in with my Japanese maples, gardenia and pittosporum. They look beautiful and offer a different texture and height along with beautiful flowers. Looking forward to trying my hand at the refrigeration process next year! I hope you had fun at you nieces wedding in Seattle. I know how much you adore her and her mother.

    Reply
    • hahahaha – yes, I do adore that sweet neice but her mother is a piece of work. 😉 I’m so glad you now have a beautiful bouquet – the Japanese maples are a fantastic idea, mixing wispy textures with the big, fluffy balls of flowers. (btw: her flowers are drying nicely, as are the citrus slices. can’t wait until a few more weeks when I can take them out of the press!)

      Reply
  • I knew that peony blooms could be refrigerated but was unaware they could be held for as long as 6 – 8 weeks. Growers always pick peonies in bud for easier shipment.
    Many years ago I read an article by a lady who was frustrated because her peony buds would never open. Finally one day she decided to make an arrangement using just the buds. To her amazement the buds eventually opened. I don’t remember what zone she lived in. Also, if you live in warmer zones (like my zone 9), be careful to cover the “eyes” with no more than 1″ of soil or they will never produce blooms. Thank you for the informative article!

    Reply
    • Hi Sharon, In the video I attached I believe the lady said she’s kept then longer than 8 weeks – if I ever grew enough I might experiment with the timing (but I’m usually so frugal with the blooms I have, I’d hate to ruin them by refrigerating them too long!) Great tip about not covering the ‘eyes’, thank you.

      Reply
  • I love pink and orange together! Can’t wait to try refrigerating some peonies next spring. I would never have guessed this was possible. Great article, thank you Rebecca!

    Reply
    • Hi Cathy – I couldn’t believe it either, but yes it definitely works! Pink and orange is winning in the polls, btw. 😉

      Reply
  • I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE peonies but I’ve just moved to Palm Desert — can I grow them here or is it just too hot and dry for them to survive?

    Reply
    • Hi Joan, I did a quick google search and while I thought you couldn’t grow them in Palm Desert, it seems you might be able to. I’m shocked! You should definitely pursue it a bit to see if that’s true, and if so I’d love to hear about any success you have! Fingers crossed for you! 🙂

      Reply
  • Rebecca, you delight your readers with the most wonderful gardening articles over and over. Thank you for what you take the time to do! I always am happy to see your name in my emails!

    Reply
    • What a lovely comment, Marilee, thank you for making my day. I’m so happy you enjoy my blog. It’s a labor of love, to be sure, I only wish I had more time to write as I have so much to share! Happy Gardening – Rebecca

      Reply
  • Great info on peonies. I just read the Jeff Jabco article too. Are the peonies you describe in your article tree peonies? I know nothing about peonies and when I get some I want things to be done right. I live in zone 9 too.
    thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Chris, The first two I mentioned are regular peonies (the ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ and ‘Felix Crousse’) but the Itoh peonies are the ‘intersectionals’ which are a blend of regular and tree peonies. I’ve never planted a tree peony and am thinking I might need to try that next! Not all varieties will bloom in warmer zone 9 climates, but the ones I mentioned worked really well. You might try googling warmer climate varieties to make sure you don’t buy some that really want that winter chill. Best of luck! 🙂

      Reply
  • Thank you for this timely email! The peony buds in my zone 5b garden are just beginning to open. I will definitely try refrigerating some of the blossoms for later enjoyment. Love it!

    Reply
    • I’m so glad the timing was right, Dorothy – I meant to share this a few weeks ago but just couldn’t find the time. I was afraid I was too late! Good luck refrigerating yours – I hope they turn out as nice as mine did 🙂

      Reply
  • I love the color combo! And I love reading this blog!
    How interesting about refrigerating peonies! Thank you for sharing!
    N

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

28 Comments

  • Rebecca, your garden of peonies was spectacular. I gave up my garden 25 year’s ago when we moved to a gated Senior community( ( The Villages ) in San Jose. Had I known what a loss that would became, I would never have lived anywhere without a garden, no matter how small. To add “insult to injury” the sweet peas called
    “ April in Pars” that I babied since December produced 5 miserable wee white ones in a long planter pot. So, I will continue to enjoy other persons gardens, and continue to look forward to your beautiful blooms, and maybe next year try drying some. Thank you for a super article. Jean

    Reply
    • Jean, how nice to hear from you! I had the absolutely worst luck with sweet peas this year. I special ordered several packets of gorgeous heirloom colors, ammended the soil with lots of worm castings, planted the seeds in the fall (which usually results in armloads of gorgeous blooms) and not a SINGLE one came up!!! So you’re not along there – at least you got 5 sad little flowers (that’s 5 more than I did!) Sending you big hugs! xoxo

      Reply
  • Three years ago I planted Canary Brilliants in my garden. This year they are really coming into their own! I didn’t expect the yellow but I just love it. They are stunning.

    Reply
    • Hi Becky, mine has also take a couple of years to finally get going. I love how the flower’s color changes over just a few days, stunning indeed!

      Reply
  • Hi Rebecca!
    I gotta agree! Pink and orange together work! I’ve got Tiger Lilies throughout my property. They pair quite nicely with any pink flower they grow next to.
    My house came with a beautiful peony of a very deep red-violet. I have no idea what the name of it is (it looks like your ‘ Felix Crousse’). I love the color! It has never needed any staking/peony hoop. Whoever had originally planted it put it in a place that would make it crowded out by a shrub. (It was growing under the arching branches of a Spirea). Rather than disfigure the shrub with excessive pruning, I decided to risk moving the peony this last fall. There were like six foot-long taproots that I had a heck of a time digging a hole big enough for and then the foliage flopped so I cut that to the ground and mulched it all in, and……It came back! And, it bloomed! It’s about half its usual size this year and the blooms were fewer and more fleeting. But success! Despite my amateur gardening skills.
    I bought a “Sara Bernhardt” several years ago. Still waiting…..

    Reply
    • Hi Gayle, hooray for successfully moving your peony! They can definitely take a few years to recover form being transplanted so if next year’s flowers are fewer still, don’t lose hope. It’ll be worth the wait, for sure! Sara also takes her sweet time getting established but once she does – look out!

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  • I love this article! I can’t grow peonies in Tucson, but just reading about them brings back the joy of my childhood when our elderly neighbor, Mr. Powell, would bring armfuls of peonies to my mom to brighten up our little house as long as his many plants were in bloom. We would all grin ear to ear and our home smelled heavenly! To have been able to keep the joy and fragrance in our home for longer periods of time would have been fabulous. Thank you

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    • What a wonderful memory you have, Sheila. My mother would give armloads of the ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ away to her neighbors (and me, of course!) and what a gift!!! Hope all is well with you and your family! 🙂

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  • Hi!
    This is my first time commenting and wanted to share my thoughts on the pink/orange combo. I love those colors together but mostly only if one of the two colors is tinted, ex. bright pink with apricot or bright orange with pale pink. Otherwise I think a third color needs to be added to either “marry” the two colors together, such as pale yellow or pale blue, or if there is a contrasting color, such as cobalt blue. And I must admit I really have trouble with the pink/orange combo if the shade of pink is a light purply pink, like tulbaghia, or putting bubble gum pink with “schoolbus” yellow/orange. I’ve obviously put a lot of thought into this!
    Thank you for your articles, I enjoy them immensely!
    Lesley

    Reply
    • Hi Lesley, I really appreciate your thoughts on the pink/orange combo and you’ve made some great points about adding a third color to help blend the two together. There’s just so much to color theory, isn’t there? I’m glad you’re enjoying my blog, thank you!

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  • Inspired by you, I just mixed some peony plants in with my Japanese maples, gardenia and pittosporum. They look beautiful and offer a different texture and height along with beautiful flowers. Looking forward to trying my hand at the refrigeration process next year! I hope you had fun at you nieces wedding in Seattle. I know how much you adore her and her mother.

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    • hahahaha – yes, I do adore that sweet neice but her mother is a piece of work. 😉 I’m so glad you now have a beautiful bouquet – the Japanese maples are a fantastic idea, mixing wispy textures with the big, fluffy balls of flowers. (btw: her flowers are drying nicely, as are the citrus slices. can’t wait until a few more weeks when I can take them out of the press!)

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  • I knew that peony blooms could be refrigerated but was unaware they could be held for as long as 6 – 8 weeks. Growers always pick peonies in bud for easier shipment.
    Many years ago I read an article by a lady who was frustrated because her peony buds would never open. Finally one day she decided to make an arrangement using just the buds. To her amazement the buds eventually opened. I don’t remember what zone she lived in. Also, if you live in warmer zones (like my zone 9), be careful to cover the “eyes” with no more than 1″ of soil or they will never produce blooms. Thank you for the informative article!

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    • Hi Sharon, In the video I attached I believe the lady said she’s kept then longer than 8 weeks – if I ever grew enough I might experiment with the timing (but I’m usually so frugal with the blooms I have, I’d hate to ruin them by refrigerating them too long!) Great tip about not covering the ‘eyes’, thank you.

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  • I love pink and orange together! Can’t wait to try refrigerating some peonies next spring. I would never have guessed this was possible. Great article, thank you Rebecca!

    Reply
    • Hi Cathy – I couldn’t believe it either, but yes it definitely works! Pink and orange is winning in the polls, btw. 😉

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  • I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE peonies but I’ve just moved to Palm Desert — can I grow them here or is it just too hot and dry for them to survive?

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    • Hi Joan, I did a quick google search and while I thought you couldn’t grow them in Palm Desert, it seems you might be able to. I’m shocked! You should definitely pursue it a bit to see if that’s true, and if so I’d love to hear about any success you have! Fingers crossed for you! 🙂

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  • Rebecca, you delight your readers with the most wonderful gardening articles over and over. Thank you for what you take the time to do! I always am happy to see your name in my emails!

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    • What a lovely comment, Marilee, thank you for making my day. I’m so happy you enjoy my blog. It’s a labor of love, to be sure, I only wish I had more time to write as I have so much to share! Happy Gardening – Rebecca

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  • Great info on peonies. I just read the Jeff Jabco article too. Are the peonies you describe in your article tree peonies? I know nothing about peonies and when I get some I want things to be done right. I live in zone 9 too.
    thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Chris, The first two I mentioned are regular peonies (the ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ and ‘Felix Crousse’) but the Itoh peonies are the ‘intersectionals’ which are a blend of regular and tree peonies. I’ve never planted a tree peony and am thinking I might need to try that next! Not all varieties will bloom in warmer zone 9 climates, but the ones I mentioned worked really well. You might try googling warmer climate varieties to make sure you don’t buy some that really want that winter chill. Best of luck! 🙂

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  • Thank you for this timely email! The peony buds in my zone 5b garden are just beginning to open. I will definitely try refrigerating some of the blossoms for later enjoyment. Love it!

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    • I’m so glad the timing was right, Dorothy – I meant to share this a few weeks ago but just couldn’t find the time. I was afraid I was too late! Good luck refrigerating yours – I hope they turn out as nice as mine did 🙂

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  • I love the color combo! And I love reading this blog!
    How interesting about refrigerating peonies! Thank you for sharing!
    N

    Reply

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