May 19, 2014

Peonies in July, or forever

Cannot imagine my garden without Peonies. Here in Illinois we have the perfect climate and soil. Not perfect for much else, weather that is......I was driving in a blizzard last Friday! Anyways, Peonies love hot temps and our heavy clay, alkaline soil.
The colors  and varieties are staggering. 
This gardener prefers the "bomb" varieties, big floriferous blossoms.
This gardener also loves to cut and preserve
 this most feminine of flowers.
 Noooooo Waaaaaay am i bringing those indoors! What if I get ants in my house!! Is the oft heard refrain.
Repeat; In order to enjoy these beauties, you will have ants so do not spray, nature is at work. The flower buds require ants to aid in opening, the sweet and sticky substance the buds exude attract the insects.
Prior to bringing them in give a good shake upside down several times, all ants should be dislodged.
 What if you want peonies in say late July? Easy! Cut the stems when they are just showing color, in a tight bud stage, about 20-24" long. Remove the lower half of the foliage.
Wrap each stem in newspaper followed by a wrapping in plastic wrap. Place all of your wrapped stems in a plastic trash bag, close and place in the refrigerator crisper. Remove the number of stems for your bouquet, 2-3 days prior to needing, cut the bottoms and place in a vase with fresh cold water. Viola!
Long term preservation is best accomplished via drying in a hot dark place, an attic is perfect. When the upside down bundles are half dry, place a blow dryer under each bloom for a short hot burst. The petals fly open, stay and will dry full blown.



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