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									            cut flower of the month
                                                                                                                                                         Super Floral Retailing has created this page
                                                                                                                                                         for the education of store-level employees.

            peony                                                                                                                                        To download a reprintable PDF, please go
                                                                                                                                                         to and select
                                                                                                                                                         “Current Issue.”

                                                                                               BOTANICAL NAME                                COLORS
                                                                                               Paeonia lactiflora                            Hues include a multitude of pinks and
                                                                                                (pee-OWN-ee-uh lak-ti-FLOR-uh)               reds as well as purple, salmon, apricot,
                                                                                               Paeonia officinalis                           white, ivory/cream, yellow and bicolors.
                                                                                                (pee-OWN-ee-uh o-fis-i-NAH-lis)              VASE LIFE
                                                                                               COMMON NAMES                                  If properly cared for from farm to florist,
                                                                                               Chinese peony, Common garden peony            peonies will give consumers two to
                                                                                                (P. lactiflora)                              seven days of vase life, depending on
                                                   Photo courtesy of Pacific Flower Shippers
                                                                                               Common peony, Wild peony,                     variety and stage of development when
                                                                                                European wild peony (P. officinalis)         harvested (see Purchasing Checklist).
                                                                                               DESCRIPTION                                   AVAILABILITY
                                                                                               Peony blooms are large, frequently up to      Peonies are available from both domes-
                                                                                               6 inches in diameter, and have tissuelike     tic and foreign growers from March
                                                                                               petals. Flower forms include single; dou-     through August, with peak season
                                                                                               ble; semidouble; Japanese (single, with       being April, May and June. Many white
                                                                                               large yellow centers); and anemone (sin-      varieties bloom early in the season —
                                                                                               gle, with powder-puff centers). Many          something to remember when selling
      Paeonia lactiflora
      Chinese peony, Common garden peony                                                       peony varieties emanate delightful scents.    white peonies for special events.

vase-life extenders                                hydration solution, then place them into                                                  fun facts
PROCESSING Immediately remove peonies              containers half filled with warm (100 F to
                                                                                                                                             WHAT’S IN A NAME The genus Paeonia is said
from the shipping boxes. These flowers are         110 F) properly proportioned flower-food
                                                                                                                                             to have been named for Paeon, a physician to
susceptible to Botrytis (gray mold), which         solution. The hydration solution will help                                                the Greek gods and reputed discoverer of the
can rot the entire flower heads. Botrytis          the flowers absorb flower-food solution                                                   flowers’ legendary medicinal properties, which
loves dark, moist environments, such as            after being shipped or stored dry.                                                        were known to cure “21 ills.”
inside shipping boxes, and thrives with            REFRIGERATION After processing, place                                                     FAMILY MATTERS Peonies are members of the
changes in shipping temperature. Remove            peonies into a floral cooler at 33 F to 35 F,                                             small Paeoniaceae family, the only other mem-
any flowers contaminated with Botrytis from        and allow them to hydrate for at least two                                                ber of which is Glaucidium, a poppylike flower.
the bunch(es), and notify your supplier.           hours before using or selling them.                                                       There are about 33 species of peonies (the
   After checking flower quality, recut the        Depending on variety, peonies can begin                                                   two most commonly grown as cut flowers are
stems with a sharp knife or pruner, remov-         opening almost immediately after being                                                    P. lactiflora and P. officinalis), and there are
ing at least 1 inch of stem. Immediately after     placed into flower-food solution, but imme-                                               approximately 2,600 varieties.
cutting, dip or place the stem ends into a         diate refrigeration can slow that process.                                                HOME SWEET HOME Peonies are native to
                                                   WATER Peonies are heavy drinkers, so check                                                Europe, Asia and the west coast of North
 purchasing checklist                              their nutrient solution level often.                                                      America. Today, as cut flowers, the double-
 Purchase peonies in the “puffy” stage, when       CARE EXTRA If peonies appear wilted or oth-                                               flowered varieties are the most common in the
 the buds are about to open. Growers cut each      erwise water stressed, submerge the stems,                                                United States while the single-flowered vari-
 variety at a different stage of bud develop-      up to the blooms, in room-temperature water                                               eties are widely sold in Europe and Asia. sfr
 ment to ensure flower opening, but most vari-     for 20 minutes before processing them.
 eties are cut in a tight bud stage, with only a   ETHYLENE SENSITIVITY Peonies do not appear                                               Some information provided by:
                                                                                                                                            The American Peony Society,
 trace of color visible. This keeps the blooms     to be affected by ethylene gas.                                                  
 from getting damaged in transit and allows for    DRY STORAGE If you don’t need peonies                                                    Botanica, by R.G. Turner Jr. and Ernie Wasson
 the longest possible vase life. Avoid opening                                                                                              Chain of Life Network® ,
                                                   immediately, you can store bud-stage blooms                                              Dictionary of Plant Names, by Allen J. Coombes
 or fully open blossoms, but watch out for         dry (out of water) in a floral cooler at 33 F to                                         Florists’ Review,
 overly tight buds as well because they will       35 F for up to three weeks. Opening blooms,                                              Hortus Third, by Liberty Hyde Bailey and
 never open. Also check carefully for signs of                                                                                                Ethel Zoe Bailey
                                                   however, must be placed into flower-food                                                 Stearn’s Dictionary of Plant Names for Gardeners,
 bruising, rot or Botrytis (gray mold).            solution immediately.                                                                      by William T. Stearn

18   floral retailing     may ’09                                                                                                                  

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