A guide created from our time with our very own Kansas City local peony farmer, Julie of Julie Pal Peonies.
First of all, everyone, we’d like to Introduce you to Julie! Julie is a peony farmer as well as an OT- specifically a certified hand therapist. We had the honor of visiting her parent’s property this past week, where she gave us a “How to” when it comes to storing peonies (among so much more… read more here)!
Let’s begin with cutting the peony from the plant:
Julie shared with us that you’ll know when a bloom is ready by the bud feeling soft, which is commonly known as the marshmallow stage. At this stage, the peony bloom hasn't fully opened but you’ll see just enough of the petals starting to poke out of the bud and it will be soft like a marshmallow!
For stem length, she recommends taking your arm along the side of the stem and lining up the bud to be just above your elbow. Julie has found, especially when selling to florists, this is the most ideal length. We love the intuitive nature of this!
Now that we’ve covered harvesting your peonies, let’s dive into the storing process!
First begin by stripping each stem, allowing all the energy to be put into protecting the bloom. It is best to strip each stem's leaves outside of the garden due to the potential of the leaves carrying disease. Julie strips each stem into a wheelbarrow and then throws the remains in the trash. So helpful to know!
Next, grab some paper and either tape or a stapler to wrap and cover the budding blooms. You will only need to cover the tops of the peonies, not the bottom of the stem! This allows for the moisture to be locked into the heads of the blooms. Energy distribution is key!
We found it interesting to learn that it is best to store your peonies without a water source in the refrigerator! This is because once you hydrate the peony, it begins its blooming process, ultimately leading to the end of its blooming cycle.
Did you know? You can store peonies in the fridge after cutting for up to 6 weeks!
What questions do you have about storing your peonies?
Extra tips from Julie:
-If you see splits in your stems or curves, this means the plant was affected by a late frost. While we can’t control mother nature, we can take proper steps to protect our plants! If you see a late frost coming, do your best to cover those babies up and protect them! You’ll be glad you did.
-Cut off those side buds. They weigh the stem down and zap the resources. Cutting the side buds off allows the stem to put the energy into 1 bigger, stronger stem.