A smart lid makes arranging a breeze.

By Katherine Owen
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Peonies in Vase
We know they make the most beautiful cut flowers, but while in the garden they love full sun. When cutting from the garden, do so in the early morning and choose buds that are just beginning to open.
| Credit: Alison Miksch

There's no denying, no matter how persnickety to grow, peonies are a favorite of Southerners everywhere. Known for big, showy blooms with fluffy, layered petals, these shrubs make not for not only eye-catching gardens but also excellent cut flowers. Whether you picked some up at the store (they're a steal at places like Trader Joe's) or impressively grew them yourself, they cheer up any room and are worth putting on display all season long—typically spring into summer.

Because the individual flowers are so large, they look beautiful on their own or in a big, dramatic grouping, like on this garden party table setting. To group a big bundle of peonies like this, you're going to want to use a wide-mouth vase, so there's plenty of room for lots of bulbs, and you can create a nice "dome" out of the arrangement.

This $14.99 vase from World Market fits the bill perfectly—not only that, but it comes with a punctured lid, so arranging is easy and flowers stays in place. Plus, the lid helps support heavy peony flowers, and the clear glass body means the vase blends into any room and any style with ease.

Peony Vase
Credit: World Market

When choosing peonies to cut, be sure to choose ones that are just starting to open and are fairly "tight" still. Big, open peonies are certainly gorgeous, but will have a significantly shorter vase life. Next, pluck off any leaves from the stem, as they will pollute the water, and make it more difficult to "thread" the stems through the lid. Cut the bottom of the stems on an angle, which allows them to drink up more water. Then, get to arranging! For our best tricks, see how Southern Living stylist Buffy does it:

My other favorite look for peony arrangments? A big "bubble" like this $12.99 find(also from World Market), to create a look like the one pictured at the top of the story. To keep flowers in place, simply create a grid using florist tape over the top of the bowl.