How To Cut Peony Buds For Flower Vase Arrangements (With Pictures)

Learn how to properly cut and care for peony buds for a beautiful vase floral arrangement in your home.

After a long cold winter that seemed to never end, we find ourselves at the cusp of peony season. The buds have survived the late frosts, and now it’s time to celebrate this iconic flower!

Peonies are wonderful flowers, a fan favorite of gardeners and florists alike. They offer a full, billowy bloom in beautiful hues of pinks, whites, reds, and even yellows. Cut peonies make dreamy flower arrangements that you can use to add beauty to your own home.

a vase of freshly cut peonies

Peonies are a beautiful, romantic flower that offer bountiful joy to flower gardeners and are especially loved as cut flowers. But did you know there is a right time to harvest peonies for optimal bouquet bloom time?

And, if you cut the stems at the WRONG time, you may end up with no beautiful blooms opening at all! Today we are going to learn how to get the most out of your peony arrangement by cutting and caring for your peonies the right way.

Images copyright @Green Garden Cottage.

When Do Peonies Bloom?

First things first, when do peonies bloom? Peony bloom span ranges from late spring until early summer. The bloom time depends on species of peony and can range depending on zone, temperature, and weather.

Peonies bloom in Zones 3-8 and bloom for 7-10 days. Planting a variety of cultivars will allow you to have blooms emerging throughout your garden for the entire peony season.

When To Cut Peony Buds For Vase

As your peonies begin to bud, it’s important to wait to cut them in order to get the optimal bloom in your vase. You are looking for your peonies to feel soft but still firm, like a marshmallow.

A petal may have started to peel away from the bud, which indicates a good time for cutting. You do not want to cut peonies that are hard to the touch and feel like a walnut.

The Best Time To Harvest Peony Blooms For Flower Vase Arrangements:

  • Peony bud looks like and feels like a marshmallow, puffy, round and soft but slightly firm
  • A petal may be lifting away from the peony bud, indicating the bud is getting ready to bloom
  • The peony is no longer in a hard ball, like a walnut
  • Cut your peony flowers in the early morning, before any heat kicks in

For easy reference, here are photos in sequence of bloom:

This peony bud is still rock hard to the touch, and feels like a walnut. It is not yet ready to cut for a vase.

The peony bud above is hard and feels like a walnut. It is NOT ready to cut.

This peony bud feels like a marshmallow, it is soft on the outside but still a bit firm. One of the petals has separated from the bud.

The pink peony bloom above is at the perfect stage of bloom for cutting. You can visually see one petal has begun to peel away from the bud. The bloom is soft on the outside with slight firmness on the inside, the perfect firmness. It essentially feels just like a marshmallow… a bit soft but still firm.

This peony bud is just a day past prime for vase cutting. Peonies can open quickly once the first petal starts to open.

The above peony is just one day past prime for vase cutting. You can still cut peonies at this stage, they will just have a shorter vase life. You can also choose to just leave these blooms on the stem to enjoy in the garden!

For vase flower arrangements, cut peony buds when they are the texture of a marshmallow: soft on the outside with a bit of firmness on the inside. A flower petal may have started to separate from the bud, indicating the perfect time to harvest the bud for a vase. This will ensure your blooms open and you are also able to enjoy them for the longest period of time.

How To Cut Peony Buds For A Vase

Now that you know WHEN to cut your peony blooms, let’s jump into HOW to cut your peony blooms. The proper technique will protect your peony bush from infection and preserve the vase life of your bloom. Don’t worry, it’s easy!

Step by step instructions for cutting peony blooms for a vase arrangement:

  • Use a strong, rust free pair of scissors or pruners.
  • Dip your pruners in beach to disinfect them before cutting your blooms. This will prevent your peony bush from getting introduced to diseases from other plants.
  • Fill a vase half full and add flower food (see below), mixing gently
  • Identify your perfect blooms ready for cutting (see above)
  • Cut blooms, leaving enough stems and leaves on peony stalk to collect energy for the next year (see below)
  • Remove any stems that would be submerged in water. This is very important and will prevent your blooms from rotting quickly.
  • Immediately add your flowers to the vase.
Use a strong pair of scissors or pruners to cut your peony buds. Dip the pruners in bleach prior to using to prevent cross contamination with disease.

As pictured here, remove any leaves from the peony stalks that would be submerged have been removed.

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When you harvest and care for your peony blooms property, they will soon open up and yield full, gorgeous bouquets. Here is a photo of our harvested peony buds, and the open blooms we awoke to the next morning:

pink peony buds when cut for bouquets in a vase and opened up the next morning.

When harvested at the right stage, it takes about 8 to 24 hours for peonies to fully open.

Where To Cut Peony Flowers

It is important to leave enough foliage on your peony plant. Leave at least 2 to 3 sets of leaves on the stems, so that your plant can gather sunlight and store energy to put into next year’s blooms. On an established plant this should not be too difficult. Take care with younger plants not to cut too much of the stem and leaves.

How Long Do Peony Bouquets Last?

Peony bouquets last for 3-6 days, depending on environment and care. You can extend the bloom harvesting season by planting a variety of peony plants that bloom sequentially from late spring to early summer. Read this article on how to extend the time your peony garden blooms for more information.

You can also utilize a few tricks in order to extend the life of your home cut bouquet…

How To Care For Peony Arrangements And Make Them Last Longer

In order to make peonies last longer, purchase flower food and add to your vase, or easily make your own home made flower food (recipe here).

Tucking the flower vase in the fridge at night will slow down the decay of your blooms and extend the life of your bouquet! Make sure the flowers have plenty of water (fill the vase half full of water).

Avoid displaying your peony vase in direct sunlight. If possible, display your beautiful arrangement in a cool location out of direct heat or sun.

Keep your home at a moderate temperature, if possible. The warmer and more humid your home, the quicker your blooms will fade (which is why the overnight fridge trick works so well!).

Wondering what to do with spent daffodil leaves? Read this.

FAQ On How Cut Peony Buds For A Vase

Here are a few answers to frequently asked questions on cutting peonies!

What Kind Of Vase Should I Use For My Peony Arrangement?

You will need a strong, tall vase for peony arrangements. When opened, the peony flowers can become top heavy and may tip over a small or light weight vase.

I have used a simple mason jar and the beautiful peonies look elegant! It doesn’t take much, these flowers shine on their own. Make sure your vase is clean and disinfected from any prior flower arrangements.

What Flowers Go Well With Peonies?

Peonies are so beautiful and full they shine alone. If you’d like to compliment them, however, you can add taller flowers with stalks or a smaller budded flower to accent the fullness of the peony:

  • foxglove
  • lavender
  • delphinium
  • lupine
  • roses

How Do You Arrange Peonies?

With their incredibly full blooms, it is not hard to create a casual peony arrangement that looks absolutely stunning. To create the perfect bouquet, cut your stems at slightly different lengths, varying them by an inch or half of an inch. This allows your flowers to fall naturally together.

Leave foliage above the neck of the vase as an accent. Group peony stems in odd numbers (3, 5, or 7) for the most artistically pleasing presentation.

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  1. Thanks for sharing this information. I’ve been doing some research about growing flowers and this is a super helpful post—really detailed and lovely photos, too. I’m definitely be more confident about growing and cutting buds after your helpful instructions. : )

  2. Beautiful photos! Thank you for the tips, I recently brought in peonies for our kitchen table, but cut flowers that were already fully open. Excited to try bringing them in again as they have a wonderful fragrance.

  3. We are in a new house with zero landscape and I can’t wait to plant all the things, including peonies(my favorite). Thank you for the tips!

  4. One thing to be careful of before placing your peonies in a vase is to make sure the flowers are free of bugs. Ants and other insects love to hide in peonies , and yiu may carry them into your home. I have numerous peony bushes in my garden, so I have learned the hard way. I always rinse my cuttings gently under water and inspect for insects before displaying.

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