Peony Buying Guide for Floral Designers

At Mountain Flower Farm we specialize in shipping fresh cut peonies to discerning floral designers nationwide. Top designers from all over the country count on us, year after year, to provide the finest quality blooms. Our reputation has been founded on the quality of our peony crop and the way we deliver it to our customers. 

We’ve been growing peonies and serving the floral community since 1998, and over the  years, a method of buying, shipping, and receiving peonies has emerged that offers the best results for everyone involved in the process, from field to vase. 

Here I’ll outline some of the key points to consider when purchasing cut peonies grower direct. Follow this advice to save money, reduce losses, grow your business, and provide your customers with the best product possible. 

 

  1. Purchase by variety name. There are literally thousands of every color of peony. A bride may express interest in white peonies. Double white peonies are generally available fresh cut (from the Northern Hemisphere) from April - August. We can take it a step further than this generalization though, and guide customers to just what they are looking for.  Not all white peony are created equal. There are different forms, different tones of color, and different size blooms. Take the time to learn some of the top choices and their differences. Grow your body of knowledge to the point that you can recognize peony varieties from a customer’s pinterest board and match them to what is available from the grower who is in season at that time. As an example of varietal differences check out these different whites:  here.

 

  1. Follow the bloom season from south to north. In April you can find peonies from southern growers with warmer climates in places like South Carolina or Georgia. May through early-June is when the bulk of peonies are harvested worldwide, and you will find them from growers throughout the mid-latitudes.  From late-June to early-July sourcing fresh cut (not cold stored) peonies can be difficult. This is the time to look to Vermont and other cool climate northern growers.  As the season progresses from late-July through early-September look to Alaska to provide quality blooms. The American Peony Society is a valuable resource for locating experienced peony growers throughout the USA. 

 

Purchase for a range of events, not specifically for one date. This is at first counter intuitive, since we are often serving customers with a specific event date. The reasoning lies in the peonies themselves… We know that peonies have a long cold storage life (easily 3+ weeks), but did you know that the time at which they are shipped will play a major role in how long they maintain top quality appearance?  Simply put: peony buds shipped tight when freshly harvested will have a much longer vase life, a much longer cold storage window, and a much better appearance in the final design work. As growers, we best serve our customers when peonies are shipped immediately after harvest. They “can” be stored before shipping, but this does not yield the best results. What yields the best results is for the grower to ship immediately after harvest and then the designer can hold blooms in cold storage (in water) and ration them out over time. Up to 3 weeks of cold storage in water when receiving fresh cut blooms is a very conservative guideline. With a minimal amount of specialized effort (dry storage) this range can be extended up to 6 weeks. 

 

For the best quality blooms , purchase grower direct immediately after harvest and use these blooms over time. Peonies shipped after a long period of storage on the grower’s end do not have the same top quality appearance as blooms shipped fresh and tight and then used weeks later. Instead of purchasing for one single event, encourage customers to use peony blooms anytime from May - September. Maintain an inventory of peonies in your cooler, and use them as needed.  As long as you are purchasing fresh picked blooms, you will find this method to be very efficient. 

 

  1. Be prepared for your shipment. Reputable growers will provide shipment notifications and tracking numbers for your shipment. Pay attention to these details and verify your shipment details. Check the shipping company’s tracking information for an expected arrival time. Boxes of flowers left sitting in the sun outside the door will not fare well. Boxes of flowers with delayed shipment because the recipient was not available will not fare well. Boxes of flowers sent to the wrong address and returned to sender will not fare well. Boxes of flowers that travel from point A to point B overnight, as directly as possible, will arrive in excellent condition. At Mountain Flower Farm, we take the extra step of packing orders in insulated shipping boxes with ice packs.

 

  1. Properly receive shipment. For a full explanation you can visit our informational web page “Receiving Fresh Cut Peony” located in the “Resources” section of www.mountainflowerfarm.com . Here is a summary:

 

Upon arrival: cut stems 1” from bottom and remove any foliage that is damaged or will be below the waterline. Place in a bucket of clean warm water (100 F) to 

re-hydrate the flowers. Allow re-hydration at room temperature for 30 minutes. 

 

After re-hydration: Rehydrated stems can be placed in a floral cooler and held at this stage for up to 3 weeks. Place the stems in clean buckets with about 8 inches of water. A floral holding solution added to the water will give the best results. Peonies are ethylene-sensitive, so care should be taken to protect them from this type of exposure.

 

For use: When removing peonies from cold storage for use, cut 1” from bottom and place in warm water with a full nutrient floral solution. Allow at least 72 hours at 72 F to open tightly closed buds. Do not place peonies in container too tightly, as they will open an additional 4” to 8” in diameter.

 

Keep Vases and Buckets Clean:  Throughout the process of using peonies, always be sure that vases / buckets are kept impeccably clean. Wash with bleach prior to use, change water regularly, and use floral holding solution for the best results. 

 

Follow these steps outlined above and you will notice an increased level of quality in the flowers. Intrepid designers can leverage this top tier quality to secure top tier prices for their work, grow their businesses, and solidify a reputation for uncompromising quality. 

 

Allow me to encourage you to contact some growers, work with them directly, and seek their advice. It is collaboration, community, and shared goals for success that allow us all to thrive and reach our full potential. 

 

Best Wishes from Vermont,

Walt