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Peony

The large, luxurious taffeta-like flower head of the peony is unmistakable. Luscious and lovely it’s easy to see why this flower is so popular with gardeners, florists, brides and flower lovers alike.

With a recorded history that dates back thousands of years, it's not surprising that even the mythology surrounding the origin of the peony has multiple versions. That said it is widely accepted that these enchanting flowers were named after Paeon, a physician to the god Asclepius in Greek mythology. According to the legend Zeus turned Paean into the peony to save him from the anger of Asclepius, who had become jealous of his student’s healing abilities.

In medieval times peonies were treasured by European royalty and the church who believed the flowers had medicinal properties and spent much time cultivating them. Indeed it was thought that the roots could cure epilepsy, convulsions and even lunacy. The peony’s reputation as a curative survived into the nineteenth century when the peony water was prescribed for nervous disorders and childhood ailments. Today traditional superstitions have died out and the flower is appreciated for its beauty and delicate fragrance.

Scientific name: Paeonia

Common name: Peony
Family: Paeoniaceae

Availability: February-July, peaks April-June
Vase life: Approx. 5-10 days

Colour range: : White, cream, dusky pink, deep pink, peach, crimson and burgundy.

Care tips

  • Fill a clean vase two thirds full with warm tap water and add your flower food as directed on the packet
  • Cut 2-3cm from the bottom of the stem at an angle
  • Remove any excess foliage from the stem that may sit below the waterline
  • Place your peonies in the vase and display in a cool spot as peonies are sensitive to temperature
  • Change the water completely every 2-3 days and ensure water levels are topped up in between as peonies are thirsty flowers


Note: peonies prefer to be placed directly in water and are not suited to being arranged in foam as this causes them to wilt.


For the Home

Exuding feminine charm and timeless beauty, peonies look stunning displayed on their own or work just as well with other old-fashioned blooms such as roses, delphiniums and lilacs. To create an arrangement that smells as good as it looks choose to display with fragrant stocks.

Top tip: buy your peonies when they are fresh cut and still in bud stage so that you can enjoy the full blooming process. If you get peonies that are already fully open, they will look gorgeous but will only last a few days at most.

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For Brides

It's similarity to a rose in full bloom makes the peony a much sought after wedding flower. Not only that but the flower itself represents romance and prosperity and is believed to bring good fortune and a happy marriage- what better choice for a wedding?

"With their lush, full rounded bloom, peonies are the perfect choice for a summer wedding. They are a very versatile flower to use in wedding designs, whether simply hand-tied together for a romantic bridal posy or arranged with more dramatic flowers to make an extravagant floral display. If you are planning a wedding out of season, speak to your florist in good time to ensure they can source these flowers for you."

Natalie Shaw, Wedding Flowers Expert


The Meaning of Peony

Peonies carry the symbolic meaning of ‘bashfulness’ but also represent good fortune and a happy marriage for brides.

Did you know?

  • The peony is a traditional floral symbol of China and in Chinese culture the flower represents riches, prosperity and honour.
  • The Chinese name for peony is 'sho yu' which means 'most beautiful'.
  • The peony is the 12th wedding anniversary flower.
  • Pink peonies are usually more fragrant than red peonies.
Source: Cut Flowers - A practical guide to their selection and care by Interflora florist Su Whale

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