This secret will seriously elevate your floral arranging skills.  

An ombré arrangement is easy to create. Place a dampened block of florist foam into a vessel. Then, working in groups of three, insert white garden roses into one side of the florist foam. Next, place light pink roses and ranunculus
in the center. On the remaining side, add deep pink peonies. Fill in any gaps with greenery.

Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

Peonies are naturally beautiful, so an eye-catching peony arrangement can come together with very little fuss. Buy peonies at their freshest, when they are still in bud stage; this will allow you to enjoy the entire blooming process. If you get peonies that are already fully open, they will only last a few days at most. Whether your peonies arrive from a local market or from an online source, you need to quickly get them in the water, but first you need to prepare your vessel. Peonies look beautiful arranged in anything – from antique vases, to silver teapots, to mason jars– but they look their best when they are not flopping all over the place in the vase. How do you get your peonies to put their best face forward? Follow this easy trick to guarantee the best peony arrangement this season..

Other than the pretty flowers and your vase, you also need floral tape or thin, transparent Scotch tape. Make sure your vessel is clean and fill it with at least 3” to 4” of water. Let stand until water reaches room temperature.

Use a napkin or paper towel to dry the rim of your vase – it needs to be totally dry or the tape will not stick. Next, apply strips of the tape across the opening of the vase like a grid, or a tic-tac-toe diagram. Make sure the small openings are wide enough for a stem to poke through. To keep the grid secure, the tape should run about ¼” over the lip of the rim (for extra measure, circle the edge of the opening with an extra strip of tape). Now your vessel is ready for the flowers.

Remove any foliage from the stems that will fall below the opening of the vase. Some people like to leave a little bit on for greenery but, not only will the leaves rot in the water, leaving them on can divert the plant’s energy from opening up the bloom. So if you don’t really need the foliage, definitely pull it off.

Using sharp shears, cut ½" to 1" off each stem on an angle (they will absorb more water this way) and quickly place it in the water, one stem per hole. You can fill the entire grid with peonies or supplement the arrangement with other types of flowers, such as hydrangea blooms.

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The rate at which the peonies will open vary depending on the flower variety and the room temperature – the warmer the room, the quicker they will open. If you need to make your blooms open faster (hosting a dinner party tonight?), fill your vase with at least 6” of slightly warm water. Make your grid, cut the stems at an angle, and quickly place them in the water. Put the vase in a warm (not hot) room, and keep the flowers away from direct sunlight or heating vents. The warmth from the room and water will help speed up the opening process.