Peonies are exquisitely beautiful flowers that unfortunately never seem to bloom for long enough. If you want to enjoy peony flowers all year round, then you can do this by drying them and displaying them inside the home.
Here we look at how to dry peonies, how to care for dried peonies, and how to display these dried flowers.
Table of Contents
There are two ways you can dry peonies at home, and both are very easy and require very few pieces of equipment. These are air drying, and drying with silica gel.
Both of these methods work well, but they will produce slightly different results. Air drying is often considered to be the easiest method, and it is also the cheapest, however, drying with silica gel will produce dried peonies in more vibrant colors.
Drying peonies in the air is a fool-proof way to dry out these flowers and preserve them for many years to come. This method does not typically require you to buy any additional equipment or items, because you will only need objects that people typically already have at home.
To air dry peonies, take your chosen stems that have been freshly removed from the plant, and tie a piece of string around the stem so that it is securely fixed onto it.
Create a loop at the end of the string so that you can hang it from a hook on the wall, or tie it to a clothes hanger so it can be hung inside a disused closet. You can group up to three stems together on a single piece of string if you wish, as long as you ensure that the petals of the flowers are not touching each other. Each flower must have good airflow and ventilation so that it dries properly and does not go mushy or moldy.
The peonies must be dried upside down, with the stems pointing to the ceiling, and the flowers pointing down toward the floor. They should be stored in a cool, dry, and dark spot in the home, such as a cupboard, closet, or spare bedroom with the curtains drawn shut. The process will typically take around two weeks, and during this time you should simply leave the peonies alone. After two weeks you can check on the flowers to see if they are completely dried.
With air-dried flowers, you should expect that the color will be slightly different from the color of the fresh flower. Typically the colors will become darker, and take on a more subtle, muted hue.
Red peonies may look burgundy or rusty brown, while pink peonies may look purple once dried. White peonies will fade to a cream color, or may even take on a slightly yellow hue. The bright green stems of the peonies will take on a darker shade of green.
Silica Gel Drying
Using silica gel to dry peonies is a faster method, which results in dried flowers that are truer in color than fresh flowers. This drying method requires silica gel, which is a sand-like substance you can buy from craft stores. Silica gel is porous and will absorb the moisture held in the petals and stem of the peony, causing it to dry out more quickly.
The most effective method of using silica gel is to do so using a large container with a lid, which can fit the peony stem in without squashing it. Apply a 1 to 2-inch layer of silica gel over the bottom of the container, then lay the peony on top. You then need to sprinkle silica gel over the top of the peony, so that each petal has a thin covering of granules.
Once covered, secure the lid onto the container and leave it in a closet for 2 to 3 days. After this time, the peony should be fully dried. You can dry more than one peony at a time if you have a container that is big enough, ensuring that the petals from each flower do not touch each other.
When removing the dried flowers from the container, do so carefully because they can be fragile. Gently shake off the silica gel into the container, and save it to be used at a later date. Silica gel can be re-used several times for drying flowers.
Best Peonies for Drying
For the best-dried peonies, you need to make sure you cut the flowers from the garden at just the right time. Ideally, the flowers should have just bloomed, so that they are fresh and in their best condition. Avoid cutting the flowers in the early morning as the petals will likely be covered in dew, and this can make them harder to dry.
You should also avoid cutting them too late in the day when the sun has made the petals open out too wide, or made them begin to wilt and droop slightly. Instead, the perfect time to cut the peonies for drying is in the late morning, when the sun has dried off the dew but hasn’t yet gotten strong enough to make them wilt.
The stems should be cut at around 6 to 8 inches in length, and all of the lower foliage should be removed before you begin the drying process. If you want to make your dried flower displays look more interesting, you can also dry peonies which are still in the bud. Remove these flowers from the plant just before the petals are about to open, and dry them as you would a regular peony flower. These can add extra texture and contrast to your dried peony bouquets.
When it comes to the best types of peony flowers for drying, look for those which have bombe style or fully double and semi-double flowers. The more petals a peony has, the better it will be for drying. This is because the structure of the flower will remain intact when more petals are packed together. Single peonies aren’t a good choice for drying because the petals tend to fold in on themselves during the drying process, creating dried flowers which look a little sad.
How to Display Dried Peonies
Dried peony flowers can really elevate the look of a wreath that has been made with foliage since they have a luxurious and dramatic look. You can secure these in place on a wreath using florist wire, and this may include trimming away some of the stems. You could also experiment with a glue gun to hold dried flowers in place in a wreath, taking care not to damage any of the petals which can be seen from the front.
A bouquet is probably the easiest and most common way to display dried peonies in the home. Group several dried stems together in a bunch and secure them with an elastic band before inserting them into a vase.
You can make your own potpourri with dried peonies by carefully plucking the petals from the flower head and laying them in a bowl or small tray. These can look elegant and also emit a pleasant fragrance into the room.
How to Care for Dried Peonies
Dried peonies need very little care, though they should be treated delicately. Dust can accumulate on the petals, and this should be removed with a gentle sweep of a feather duster, or by blowing the flower to disturb the dust. Avoid using a vacuum as these are too powerful and will damage the dried peonies.