Peonies forum→Peonies for cutting

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Name: Alex
Toronto, Ontario
Region: Canadian
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AlexUnder
Apr 15, 2021 2:30 PM CST
I wonder if anyone can share extra information on peonies as cut flowers. I interested in having those for vase, not only enjoying them in the garden. I've seen some suggestions that you should not harvest more than 30% of flowers after 3rd year ( and none before that ), but I honestly doubt that peony growers are harvesting only 30% of available stems with buds. So how much are they getting? I guess some cultivars are producing more stems/flowers than another and some of them are recovering better. Duchesse de Nemour is one of the highest yield, as far as I remember. SB was the one which was actually increasing vase life after refrigerating storage.

Does anyone know any info about new cultivars?

https://www.peonysociety.eu/to...

I was actually surprised that DDN yield was 25 stems and HB is only 3.3. It is certainly a better producer for me, but I do not know if there were any restrictions placed during those studies. Climate certainly plays a biggest role for different cultivars. Anything from the North?
[Last edited by AlexUnder - Apr 16, 2021 6:20 PM (+)]
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Name: Anya
Fairbanks, AK (Zone 3a)
Cat Lover
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anyagoro
Apr 16, 2021 1:07 AM CST
Alex, there are quite a few peony farms in Alaska. People use old varieties which proved to be easy to grow and produce good number of stems. Are you more interested in new varieties?
Name: aka Annie
WA-rural 8a to (Zone 7b)
Sandsock
Apr 16, 2021 9:09 AM CST
Alex..For cutting info, I have used https://www.mypeonysociety.com... It seems to be for florists and flower farmers and gives me an idea about vase life/scent etc.
Name: Alex
Toronto, Ontario
Region: Canadian
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AlexUnder
Apr 16, 2021 4:12 PM CST
Anya, there is info somewhere about old varieties, but none about new ones. So what are the most floriferous new cultivars? I guess new ones are not that impressive. What are they growing - only old ones? I got Mme. Claude Tain because it was considered a nice cut flower with great presentation in vase. See how it will perform.
Annie, I could not find info about growing for cutting on that website. Just individual peonies characteristics for vase life. I guess growers are not spreading it in the open. I can ask Top in a few years time for his favorites.
Name: SoCal
Orange County (Zone 10a)
Lazy Gardener or Melonator
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SoCalGardenNut
Apr 16, 2021 4:19 PM CST
Mme Claude de Tain is on my list.
2022 wishlist: Pastelegance, and Blonde Vision.
[Last edited by SoCalGardenNut - Apr 16, 2021 4:19 PM (+)]
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Name: Karen
Southeast PA (Zone 6b)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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kousa
Apr 16, 2021 4:45 PM CST
I agree with others that Duchess de Nemours is a vigorous grower that produces many stems and flowers as I personally experience this in my own garden. More modern peonies that are currently widely grown for cut flowers are Lemon Chiffon and Coral Charm. I have seen videos of The PEony SHop processing Lemon Chiffon for cut flowers and it blows your mind. I guess these two peonies must keep well and open well in order for them so popular. For me, Red Charm is a very good cut flower as it lasts a long time in the vase. Cytherea also lasts a long time in the vase. Mrs FDR is a vigorous peony and produces many stems for flowers cutting. I am not sure about her vase life as I have not observed yet. I can let you know how it does in the vase this year.
Name: Alex
Toronto, Ontario
Region: Canadian
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AlexUnder
Apr 16, 2021 5:32 PM CST
I will be sure experimenting with different varieties in the future. Smell is also important for me,
that's why I still did not pull a trigger on corals.
Name: Top
Missouri (Zone 6a)
Peonies Dahlias Region: Missouri Seed Starter Zinnias Daylilies
Irises Hummingbirder
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Topdecker
Apr 17, 2021 9:17 AM CST
I could not find any Alaskan data that was based on mature, 5-year old plants. I believe that the 2 or 3 year data provided is more a reflection of what plants get off to a vigorous start _in Alaska_ than anything meaningful to lower-48 grower such as myself.

Anyhow, it's an interesting read and the tracking approach itself is more useful than the results. This year I'll be tracking stems produced (rather than flowers) because it is, in my opinion, a more accurate way to gauge root growth than counting flowers (that might be impacted by many external problems, such as the snow in my forecast). By year 5, stems should equal flowers and finding the plants that have a robust rate of expansion seems like it will have happier results.

And I am with you about preferring good smelling flowers over scentless. But there aren't good smelling options in the corals, at least that I have been able to find. Coral Sunset seems to be the best performer for my soil and climate and I am heavily invested in it, but I think that Pink Hawaiian Coral is my favorite in terms of appearance and habit. (I have not yet tried Tropicana.)

Cut flowers for florists... Vase life is often discussed and is important. But the flowers must also open reliably and be able to be stored at near freezing temperatures for at least several weeks and then open fully once in the vase. Part of this will be a reflection of the skill of the people harvesting the buds - knowing when to cut the buds of a given cultivar and getting them stored properly is something that I expect will take several seasons of trial and error to tune into optimal results. But if the flowers remain reluctant to open, then that may be a poor choice of peony cultivars. (If you go through lists of peonies no longer in commerce, you will find more than a few lost to time that had a comment about not opening reliably.)

Top

The return of perennials in the spring can feel like once again seeing an old friend
Name: Karen
Southeast PA (Zone 6b)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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kousa
Apr 17, 2021 10:03 AM CST
I agree Some criterias for determining peonies good for cutting can be summarized below:

1. Long vase life
2. Store and open well
3. Vigor and ease of growth producing many stems for cutting
4. Scent

Please add to list if you know of any other factors.
Name: Alex
Toronto, Ontario
Region: Canadian
Image
AlexUnder
Apr 17, 2021 10:05 AM CST
Do you know how much in % the growers are harvesting, Top? I find 30% on a lower side. Or may be the pickers are asked not collect no more than certain number of stems from different varieties each time.
Name: Alex
Toronto, Ontario
Region: Canadian
Image
AlexUnder
Apr 17, 2021 10:15 AM CST
Karen,
I would add resistance to weather extremes - to late frosts, wind, drought, etc, also disease-resistance. Also, very early and very late varieties may be more interesting for growers because of the premium prices they can get. Shapes and colors matter - the new and unusual ones. Size of blooms and buds.
[Last edited by AlexUnder - Apr 17, 2021 10:20 AM (+)]
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Maryland (Zone 7a)
Region: Canadian Region: Maryland Roses Cat Lover Butterflies Bookworm
Dahlias Peonies Herbs
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Hiyamakki
Apr 17, 2021 11:29 AM CST
Is there a reason you can't cut all the flowers? It isn't as though they are producing food for the plant. If I know there's a storm coming I will usually rush out and cut all the open flowers that will be destroyed anyway so that I can at least enjoy them in a vase. Is this a bad idea?
Name: Top
Missouri (Zone 6a)
Peonies Dahlias Region: Missouri Seed Starter Zinnias Daylilies
Irises Hummingbirder
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Topdecker
Apr 17, 2021 12:35 PM CST
AlexUnder said:Do you know how much in % the growers are harvesting, Top? I find 30% on a lower side. Or may be the pickers are asked not collect no more than certain number of stems from different varieties each time.


1/3 is what I have seen bandied about the most.

My personal plan would be to count the overall stems and keep the 1/3 that look the closest to having the same sized buds. Any other stems with buds, I would pinch them out. The idea is that the only stems with buds are the ones that you would be collecting and wouldn't be bothered keeping track during the busier harvest time. It also keeps the plant from wasting energy.

I am also basing all of my needs on gathering 5 stems per peony, which I feel like is a very conservative number. I expect that number to be closer to accurate on year 5 and to become increasingly inaccurate as the plants continue to mature and put up more stems.

One important thing that there doesn't seem to be any information about is a simple enough question - how many divisions can you expect from a given peony? It is going to vary with age, soil types, care, and how big a piece you started with. But I find it odd that I can't find a printed number or even a guestimate. I personally am hoping for a 3:1 division rate with 2 year old peonies. So 10-->30-->90 over a 4 year span. Actual peony growers really hold that info close to the vest.

Top
The return of perennials in the spring can feel like once again seeing an old friend
Name: Top
Missouri (Zone 6a)
Peonies Dahlias Region: Missouri Seed Starter Zinnias Daylilies
Irises Hummingbirder
Image
Topdecker
Apr 17, 2021 12:40 PM CST
Hiyamakki said: If I know there's a storm coming I will usually rush out and cut all the open flowers that will be destroyed anyway so that I can at least enjoy them in a vase. Is this a bad idea?


Flower harvesting for florists means taking the flower and about 22" of the stem it is on. If you take too much leafy growth, it is bad for the peony. Taking the flower and 5 or 6 inches of stem is a much gentler thing to do and I suspect that is what you are doing?

Top

The return of perennials in the spring can feel like once again seeing an old friend
Maryland (Zone 7a)
Region: Canadian Region: Maryland Roses Cat Lover Butterflies Bookworm
Dahlias Peonies Herbs
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Hiyamakki
Apr 17, 2021 12:50 PM CST
Yup! I usually try to avoid cutting leaves. I like to cram them into a small vase so it looks full and luxurious.
Name: SoCal
Orange County (Zone 10a)
Lazy Gardener or Melonator
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SoCalGardenNut
Apr 17, 2021 12:52 PM CST
I tried yesterday to not cut the leaves, but it was impossible. I would like more Command Performance so I can cut. Maybe next year. Was lucky to get 3 buds this year.
2022 wishlist: Pastelegance, and Blonde Vision.
Name: Top
Missouri (Zone 6a)
Peonies Dahlias Region: Missouri Seed Starter Zinnias Daylilies
Irises Hummingbirder
Image
Topdecker
Apr 17, 2021 1:00 PM CST
kousa said:
Please add to list if you know of any other factors.


Stem length / straightness

A bit more iffy...
Colorfastness
Uniformity of blooms

Colorfastness generally isn't going to be an issue for indoor flowers, but it does present some problem in terms of having an accurate image, especially for flowers that start faintly blush and then turn white.

I will also say that growers evidently have a hard time selling single form factor flowers. I am steering directly into that and plan on trying to sell singles, but my flower selection will still be dominated by doubles. At any rate, it may be fair to say that florists expect and want doubles.

Top
The return of perennials in the spring can feel like once again seeing an old friend
Name: Alex
Toronto, Ontario
Region: Canadian
Image
AlexUnder
Apr 17, 2021 2:25 PM CST
Topdecker said:
One important thing that there doesn't seem to be any information about is a simple enough question - how many divisions can you expect from a given peony? It is going to vary with age, soil types, care, and how big a piece you started with. But I find it odd that I can't find a printed number or even a guestimate. I personally am hoping for a 3:1 division rate with 2 year old peonies. So 10-->30-->90 over a 4 year span. Actual peony growers really hold that info close to the vest.

Top


It is just to subjective to growing conditions - I would not expect same number of divisions compare to someone who lives in Portland. I found in some peonies more frequent divisions may give higher number of good-sized roots than waiting for 3 or 4 years. I found Itohs should not be delayed and it is easier to cut when they are young.
Name: Karen
Southeast PA (Zone 6b)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
kousa
Apr 17, 2021 5:06 PM CST
Thanks Top and Alex! Here is updated list:

1. Long vase life
2. Store and open well
3. Vigor and ease of growth producing many stems for cutting
4. Stem quality (strength, length, straightness)
5. Consistency and uniformity of blooms (color, form, size)
6. Resistance to weather extremes
7. Scent
8. Novelty

How do you rate the above factors? I guess the rating can change according to your objectives as a grower and producer of cut flowers. For me as a gardener, I may rate differently than the order above.
Name: Alex
Toronto, Ontario
Region: Canadian
Image
AlexUnder
Apr 17, 2021 5:56 PM CST
For garden varieties it would be different for sure. Presentation when in bloom, length and time of blooming period, staking/no staking, etc.
But I think I should be paying more attention for cut flower qualities when buying new ones.
[Last edited by AlexUnder - Apr 17, 2021 5:57 PM (+)]
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