Gardentalk – Preparing your picked peonies for a perfect, prolonged presentation

Peonies (Creative Commons photo by Samantha Forsberg)

Are your peonies getting ready to bloom? If you want to enjoy them longer indoors, then don’t wait to pick them until they blossom.

Peonies from Brad Fluetsch’s home garden. (Photo by Elizabeth Jenkins/KTOO)

Master Gardener Ed Buyarski recommends harvesting the flowers early if you gently squeeze the unopened buds and they feel soft like a marshmallow. Cut them with about 12 inches of stem. In a vase of warm water, the opening blooms could last a week or more.

For display later, Buyarski suggests putting them loosely in a plastic bag with a damp paper towel around the stems before putting them in the refrigerator. They may be able to last for a few weeks. When you pull them out of the fridge, trim off the bottom inch of stem before putting them in water.

Listen to the June 20 segment about peonies and bark mulch for rhododendrons:


Buyarski also answered a question from listener Sam, who asked the following:

Can rhododendrons tolerate bark as a mulch?

The short answer is yes: Rhododendrons can tolerate bark as a mulch. Buyarski said the shallow-rooted rhodies actually like the bark’s acidity when it breaks down and decomposes. He recommends a 1-inch to 2-inch layer that will keep the moisture in and the roots cool.

Do you have a garden question for Ed? Fill out the form below, and he’ll answer your question in an upcoming segment.

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