Tuesday Tip: How To Force Open Your Peonies

pink peonies

I’m a big believer that even when you’re hosting an elaborate dinner party you don’t have to spend a fortune on flowers.  Most of the time the tables are going to be piled high with wine glasses—those glasses serve a very important purpose (wink), but can leave minimal room for flowers.

up close peonies

Often, some simple “satellite” arrangements are all that you need to make the table look beautiful. Recently, I was putting arrangements together for a non-profit event and found some beautiful peonies locally. The result was a gorgeous table, all while staying on budget.

Peonies are currently blooming everywhere in Santa Barbara— from Von’s to Trader Joe’s. My hope is to plant them in my garden one day, but so far I’ve been down on my luck growing them. Luckily, I have access to a pretty amazing floral wholesaler, but these blooms were actually less expensive at Trader Joe’s!

Prepping peonies

There was only one small problem, these peonies were tightly closed—no lush, open fullness in sight and I needed pretty tables pronto. At the advice of a wise friend (thanks, Kyle), I brought the flowers home, cut off the ends and plunged the stems directly into warm water. Next, I put the buckets of peonies in a hot car to help encourage the process. If you try this, please check on the flowers periodically, as clearly this is not an exact science.

peonies and wine glasses

Photo by Erin Feinblatt

peony and garden arrangement

Photo by Erin Feinblatt

After several hours, I had enough open peonies to get the look I wanted for my arrangements. For most of the tables, I used small vases of several peonies and they looked gorgeous, if I do say so myself!

white open peonies

Full, open peonies

Flip side: If your flowers are too open, simply put them in cold water or a cool cellar to help them close a little. Either way, make sure you place the flowers in water fortified with flower food.