How To Force Peonies To Open And Bloom Quickly

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Get ready to unlock the captivating beauty of peonies in no time!

Delicate, luxurious, and oh-so-beautiful, peonies are gorgeous flowers that can bring an elegant pop of color to any space. But what if you simply can’t wait for them to open naturally?

In this article, I’ll share my favorite trick and tips on how to force open peonies to bloom quickly, allowing you to enjoy their stunning blossoms faster.

paint furniture without chalk paint

If you’ve bought peonies at your local florist or grocery store, you may have found some buds closed tight. Sometimes, this happens when peonies are picked too early for shipping because the peony is a fragile and fleeting bloom! 

So, if you have an event and need to open them open quickly, I’m sharing my overnight methods! 

As an avid lover of flowers and as someone who lives where the varieties available are so limited, it’s frustrating! 

Peonies are akin to elusive butterflies and they don’t grow at all in the tropical south. So I’m forced to find them at florists and occasionally at grocery stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. 

This weekend, I was in shock to see just a couple of bunches of peonies at one of the above, imported all the way from Holland. They were $10 for a bunch, or $2 each, and were just tight buds about the size of a quarter. 

soaking peonies in the sink

Although I bought them knowing it was a risky business, it has allowed me to do some experiments.

How to Force Peonies to Open

Peonies are very special and delicate flowers. Their blossoming depends on a few different factors that directly affect the timing and quality of their blooms. Knowing some of these factors is important when trying to force peonies to open.  

A reason why you may find these tight buds is that they get shipped earlier than they should, as the blooming stage is very short.

Higher temperatures encourage a speedier blooming process, while cooler conditions can delay it. To hasten the bloom, we need to give our buds a little more warmth. Sunlight, warm indoors, or warm tap water if the buds are still tightly closed, will work wonders.

Adequate sunlight is crucial for the blooming of peonies. These flowers thrive in full sun to partial shade conditions. When forcing peonies indoors, ensure they receive sufficient natural or artificial light to stimulate the blooming process.

Below is what I have found works and although it’s not entirely foolproof, if you have a photoshoot due or an event…try this method to force peonies to open!

Force Peonies to Open: Hydrate upon Arrival

Another cause is the buds naturally have a wax-like coating on them that is eaten by ants to get them to open and bloom in the garden. This is particularly important to know when trying to force peonies to open.

Upon bringing home your store-bought peonies, it’s important to give them a refreshing drink of water. 

art of arranging peonies

As soon as you get your peonies home, cut them on a sharp angle to allow as much water to penetrate into the stem as possible. 

I like to use garden clippers and then remove all foliage, except for maybe a few at the top.

Place them immediately in a bucket filled with enough warm water to cover the stems. Having the water as HOT as your tap will allow is best and add a packet of flower food.

Keep the peonies in a warm and sunny (if possible) room and repeat this process every 3-4 hours.

Idea of how to force peonies to open featuring pink peonies

After a day or so your blooms should start to open. If they don’t, fill a pitcher with hot tap water and soak the actual buds face down in the water. This will help to melt the waxy coating when all else fails. 

Rinse and repeat!

I purchased the peonies above yesterday and they would have never bloomed if I didn’t force the peonies to open with the method above. 

Sometimes you have to massage the blooms to force the peonies to open. I did that with these last night and today we have beautiful blooming peonies!

Remember that to keep your peonies fresh, you need to change the water in the vase every two to three days. Fresh water helps prevent bacterial growth and ensures that the peonies stay hydrated!

peonies on a French chair shabbyfufu

And that’s my secret tip to force peonies to open and blossom quickly! Have you tried other ways? Let me know in the comments!

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  1. Hey Janet, when you say ‘massage’ are you literally rubbing your fingers over the closed buds?

  2. Hi Lynn…yes! It doesn’t work well with completely closed up buds, because I think that they pick those too early. If they are slightly open it works better and I’ve had good luck with this!

  3. Jenny Young says:

    I never thought about these not growing somewhere. I live in the upper south, northwest Arkansas, & have quite a few in my yard. My favorites are the white because the scent is so very luscious. I pick them in bud so the blooms last longer but have never had problems with them opening for me. Of course mine don’t get refrigerated & shipped?

    I have to wait until May to enjoy them & it’s one of my favorite parts of spring.

    1. I think that because you grow them yourself Jenny it might not be a problem since you know when to pick! Many of us take what we can get in terms of the commercial flower market. The selections in my area aren’t usually the best.

    2. I love my peonies. They are so big and showy in my garden. Like the other poster, it never occurred to me to think about the area they don’t grow in. I am in Ontario, Canada and they grow well here. Yes it is always a good sign to see ants on your buds. I have white, deep pink and my new ones are peach. I wish I could show you a picture.

      1. I do buy peonies every year normally, since they sadly don’t grow here. The showiest flower…you are fortunate to have them in your garden!

  4. Jeanne Dugan says:

    It’s peony blooming time in central New York and the peonys are gorgeous! Now that I’ve read your post I won’t take mine for granted anymore! I just cut 2 different varieties to bring in. I had no idea the ants served a purpose.

  5. Debbie Sunshine says:

    Yes… I saw the beautiful coffee table books & artwork on Randi Garrett’s blog last week.. and had doscou T’s for her collection she picked out.. Guess u missed it? Seems I see a lot of similar articles on your blog…

    1. I know Randi from Instagram, but don’t follow her blog. Have a wonderful day Debbie!

  6. I love the peony tips in this post! I live in Wisconsin and our warmer weather has been delayed by weeks this year. I have so many peonies growing beside my new-to-me home. Now I can cheat and bring them inside sooner! I’m excited to try your tips

    1. I hope that it works for you Susan!

  7. Hi Janet
    I have peonies and enjoy their beautiful blooms. I am going to be planting some more as I just can’t get enough!

    1. You’re so lucky and I wish that they grew down here!

  8. Mine are blooming and I try to keep them from falling over and making a mess by cutting some to bring inside but there always seems to be an attached bud not ready..ugh..
    I never knew about the warm water…I will test that one out.
    They smell divine!

    1. Lori, also try the massage method when they start to open. I have had good luck with that but not every tight bud will be a winner.