Peonies, with their colorful, oversized blooms, are some of the most popular flowers today. They usually arrive in the bud stage, so don't worry that they're not yet open. As soon as you receive them, fill a clean vase with about 4 to 5 inches of room-temperature water. Use a sharp pair of cutting shears or a knife and cut about 2 inches off the bottom of each stem. Make these cuts at a diagonal to help encourage faster water intake. Remove any foliage that goes beyond the water line - you don't want those leaves sucking up the nutrients needed by the peonies.
Depending on the type of peonies, once the flowers are properly hydrated, they should start to open in a matter of hours or a couple of days. The warmer the room temperature, the faster they'll blossom. Peonies are thirsty flowers, so monitor the water levels and refill the vase as necessary. Be sure to clean the vase and cut the stems every two or three days to extend their lifespan. Place them in a cool spot, away from heat and direct sunlight. The open blossoms can be fragile and shatter if mishandled, so be gentle with them. With proper care, they should last about seven days.
The peony symbolizes wealth and riches, beauty, bashfulness, honor and romance. It is an important flower in Chinese culture, where its name translates to "most beautiful," and symbolizes royalty and honor. Deep red peonies are the most important in China and Japan because they symbolize honor and respect. This color also represents wealth and prosperity in both nations.
Peonies are cultivated in an array of beautiful colors, from stunning deep magenta to the palest of pinks. Some of the colors have specific meanings, including pink, which stands for romance and is perfect for wedding flowers. White and pale pink symbolize bashfulness, making them a fine choice for an "I'm sorry" bouquet.
Peonies are celebrated on the 12th wedding anniversary, due to their connection to honor.