Storing Peony Buds for weekS
The cold serves to slow development of the flower. The longest storage life is obtained with quick cooling and storage temperature of 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, a refrigerator is typically in the range of 36-40 degrees. At these "higher" temperatures the storage life is somewhat shortened, but this may be partly offset by cutting at a tighter bud stage.
The first thing you need to know is when to cut the peonies.
During the bloom time of peonies, you should check them several times a day to make sure you are cutting at the proper bud developmental stage. The timing needs to be exact.
To store a peony for proper bloom and achieve a vase life of five to 10 days, the general rule you will follow is to cut the flowers when the buds are showing some color and are soft like a marshmallow.
For more specific guidance based on the flow types here is some guidance:
Single, Japanese, and Anemone type flowers open more easily and should be cut firmer than the soft bud
The single style flowers are best cut when the buds are about to show a line of color, but still hard.
With the Bomb type (the largest and fullest form of a peony flower) the general rule is to cut when the bud covers are loosening and an edge of the true color showing
The preferred lengths for cutting the stems is 12 to 20 inches. Just remember that you will be re trimming the stem when you remove them from storage, so a bit longer is better.
Once the peonies are cut, you should strip the leaves off the stem. This procedure cuts down on bulk and greatly reduces the plants surface area giving off moisture in the bags.
Next dry them off before storing to prevent moisture standing on the petals and causing browning.
Next you need to wrap the peonies completely to protect them from drying out. Wrap them stem to bud in clear plastic wrap, sealing both ends of the wrap. The use of 2-gallon zip lock bags works well.
Sealing the wrap helps to ensure minimal moisture loss from the flowers themselves. A good tight seal is imperative if storing them in a frost-free refrigerator.
You will be storing the bag flat for up to three months depending on the type and stage of bloom, the refrigerator temperature, and other variables. Keep notes since you will need to wait until next year to apply your lessons learned for what worked best. Pictures of the buds when you cut them will help you insure you cut the buds at the right stage.
No fruit—such as apples—can be in the refrigerator with your peonies. The ethylene gas emitted by ripening fruit will cause flower petals to drop, and buds to wilt and fail to open.
When you are ready to remove the stored blooms to replace those that have faded in your vases you will remove the buds from the refrigerator. The flowers will be wilted, and the cut ends will have dried.
Re-cut the ends to expose fresh tissue so that it can properly absorb water and place in room temperature water.
Once the peony is hydrated, it should bloom for about a week