Why grow your own peony cutting garden?
Isn’t it easier to just order a bunch of blooms whenever you need one? Arranged perfectly and ready to go?
But we think it’s more fun to grow your own, as well as these other compelling reasons:
- You’ll have access to a wider variety of peonies.
- You can choose the peonies you especially like and get the look you want.
- You’ll learn more about your garden and your peonies in the process.
- You’ll have a regular supply of peonies in season which can be more affordable in the long run.
Here’s how to get started on growing your own peonies.
Which Peonies are Best
Blooms from most herbaceous cultivars perform well in both the vase and garden.
These are some of the best peonies for cutting (some pictured right):
- ‘Sarah Bernhardt’
- 'Boule de Neige'
- ‘Madame Calot’
- ‘Honey Gold’
- ‘Claire de Lune’
- ‘Victoire de la Marne’
If your peonies are young (less than 3 years old) it’s unlikely you will be seeing flowers just yet.
Peonies mature relatively slowly and they will need time to establish well to be sturdy enough for flower picking.
However, they are worth the wait. Being perennials, peonies are a great choice for a cutting garden as they will come back every year to knock your gardening gloves off with their beautiful blooms.
In cooler climates, peonies can be planted in either spring or autumn so you could get started now. Here’s how:
- Plant in a sunny spot in well-draining soil with less frequent, longer watering to encourage deeper, stronger rooting.
- Don’t plant them too deeply. The eyes should be no more than 2.5-5cm below the surface.
- Make sure there is enough space between plants – at least 60cm – as peonies benefit from good air circulation. This also makes them easier to pick.
- Keep the area weed-free so your peonies aren’t competing for nutrients.
- Provide staking/supports if needed.
- Include peonies of different bloom times in the same bed to avoid empty patches
It’s more cutting than picking you’ll be doing as it’s best to use secateurs rather than the hand to get a good clean edge so they can draw the water up well.
The best time of day to pick/cut them is on a cool day or in the morning.
You’ll want to:
- Make sure your secateurs or scissors are really sharp.
- Cut peonies when the bud is quite soft but not yet opened. A gentle pinch between your forefinger and thumb should reveal that the bud is as soft as a marshmallow.
- Pick them with a bucket of water in hand and put the stems straight in (the ends start to seal over as soon as they’re picked so if you put them straight in the water they will drink up the water more readily than later).
When in the Vase
If picked at the marshmallow stage, within a day or two the flowers will have opened and you should have beautiful peonies in a vase for at least a week.
Make sure to:
- Take off the leaves that will be under the water and put a little Milton in the water. This will stop the fungal moulds from growing and prolong the life of your cut peonies.
- Every few days, trim the stems and change the water to keep them fresh.