A few weeks ago the Expert Panel was discussing how they condition peonies and Holly Chapple mentioned her practice of dry packing and storing peonies for future use. After that post many of you wrote to ask for details, so Holly agreed to join us today and share her method.
BB: When you mentioned dry packing your peonies in an Expert Panel discussion recently, many of the BB readers wrote us asking for more details on your method. Thanks for offering to share with us! Can you take us through your process?
Holly Chapple: Sure! I was taught to harvest my peonies in a marshmallow soft state. The peonies are laid out on the counter to dry (which can take up to a couple of hours if they have moisture on them). Cutting them after rain or when they are wet with dew can cause the peonies to mildew. Laying them out to dry helps reduce the moisture. The bottom leaves should be removed from the peony as well. We wrap the peonies in bunches of 10 stems in either newspaper or floral wax tissue paper. The peonies are put into a box and stored for up to six weeks in the cooler. Batches that are left in the cooler for six weeks do look a bit more worn out than the peonies you get straight from the garden or stems that have only been stored for a few weeks. As soon as you see a six week old dry packed peony you will realize you have in fact worked with peonies that have been dry packed before. This is a very old and reputable technique. Single varieties should be cut in a tighter bud form.
I might should add that dry packing peonies is a technique used by growers to extend the selling period. When buying peonies at market you can never be sure if a peony has already been dry packed and stored, which means you may not be able to extend the life again by dry packing them in your studio. It’s safest to use the technique with fresh blooms harvested from the garden.
BB: Thanks so much, Holly! If any of you (BB readers) have additional questions for Holly, please leave them in the comment section below or on the Facebook post. Now…I’m sure this is slightly off topic, but I’m going to take this opportunity to share one of my favorite Holly Chapple Flowers weddings with you. Holly used lots of beautiful peonies in her designs, so we’re not completely off topic!
Photography: Paper Antler
Floral Design: Holly Heider Chapple Flowers