Peony blossoms are cut before they have opened on the plant. This means that the flowers will last longer after they are harvested. However, it also means that they often remain closed long after you get them home. The best way to deal with unopened peonies is to leave them to bloom on their own with time. Forcing a peony to bloom will shorten its lifespan. But, if you need the peonies for a special event, it is possible to force mature peony blossoms to bloom prematurely by turning up the heat. Warm temperatures will cause the peony to develop more quickly and open its petals sooner.
Things You’ll Need
- Rubber gloves
- Pruning shears
- Put on a pair of rubber gloves (the oil from your hands is bad for the blossoms). Squeeze each of the blossoms gently between your thumb and forefinger. If the petals are stiff and rigid, they are not yet ready to be forced to bloom. You must wait until they soften. If the petals are soft and give easily under your finger pressure, or one or two of the petals are slightly open, proceed to step two.
- Remove the peonies from the vase or refrigerator.
- Empty the water from the vase (if there is any) and refill with warm water.
- Place one peony in the vase so that its stem is underwater (if the mouth of the vase is too narrow to easily fit your hand into, do this under warm running water). Cut the bottom 1/4 inch of the peony stem off at a 45-degree angle with a pair of clean pruning shears (then place the peony directly into the water without allowing it to drip dry). Repeat with each peony until the vase is full.
- Place the vase and the peonies in a warm spot in direct sunlight. A greenhouse is ideal, but a sunny windowsill is an effective substitute.
- Change the peonies’ water at least twice daily so that the water stays quite warm.
- Move the peonies to a cool spot that receives little to indirect sunlight once all of the peonies have bloomed. The cooler temperatures and reduced sunlight will prolong their life.
Tips & Warnings
You cannot force peonies that are still on the plant to open.