The beauty of peonies doesn’t have to be seasonal. While gorgeous garden peonies only last in the garden for a few weeks and have a showy but limited vase life, you can preserve the beauty all year by drying the petals and making a gorgeous, naturally-scented peony bath salts recipe.
Peonies are a garden showstopper. They are tolerant of poor soil, grow well in Zones 2 through 8 and, and will bloom for up to 50 years if they are happy. I wrote all about growing peonies, the different cultivars, the variety of the flowers, and how to cut them for arrangements here: Perfect Peonies: How to Grow, Harvest, and Show Off Garden Peonies.
Once the petals are starting to fall, I run out to the garden with my harvest basket to collect as many pretty petals as I can. Many years ago, my mother gave me a small bag of mixed scented petals she had collected from her garden. There was cornflower, rose, and calendula of course, but there was also these large, deep fuchsia petals that smelled fantastic: peonies! Ever since, I have been collecting and drying peony petals for natural colour in my bath salts and tub teas. Not all peonies hold the colour and fragrance, though, so it’s worth testing out a few varieties to find the right ones.
Herbal Peony’s Medicinal Properties
The root of garden peonies (Paeonea lactiflora) is used in Chinese herbal medicine as a herbal remedy for the liver, spleen, and regulating women’s reproductive organs. The root is dried then made into a decoction or tincture and taken orally. The petals and buds are also harvested and made into tea. Peony petal tea can also be used to make flower water and as a herb for the bath.
How to Dry Peonies
Dried peonies look beautiful in flower arrangements and it helps to preserve the beauty of these fleeting flowers. With blooms that last on the plant and a vase for not nearly long enough in a season, dried peonies give you the option to enjoy them throughout the year. The color of dried peonies can vary quite a bit depending on the variety. Some lose quite a bit of their pigment while others hold on to it for many years. In most cases, the colour will be a bit darker and more muted than the fresh cut flower. White flowers can turn yellow to beige, pink flowers can turn a dusty rose, red flowers can turn a deep burgundy.
Dry peonies when the flower is fully open but before it starts to wilt or lose petals. Hang single peonies or bunches of up to three peonies from a wire rack in a cool dry place with even temperature. The stems can become brittle after they dry but you can replace them with floral wire if needed. Use dry peonies in dried arrangements and wreaths.
Peonies can also be dried for their scented petals. It takes just one or two bomb or double flowers to fill up a mason jar of dried petals so you don’t need much to give you plenty for projects.
Peony petals can be used in potpourri or use to make a herbal bath soak.
Peony Bath Salts Recipe
This fragrant peony bath salt is all natural. With no added colour or fragrance it is a celebration of the vibrant and beauty of nature, captured in a jar. The Epsom salts base soothes achy muscles with magnesium, while the two Himalayan pink salts ad minerals to be absorbed in the warm water.
Makes 2 cups (250 ml)
- 1 cup Epsom salts
- 1/2 cup cup dried peony petals, crushed
- 1/4 cup fine Himalayan pink salt
- 1/4 cup coarse Himalayan pink salt
Crumble dried peony petals using your hand or pulse in a herb grinder. To get ½ cup of crushed petals.
Combine with salts and stir to mix.
Package in pretty jars for gift giving.
How to Use Peony Bath Salts
Use 1/2 cup of Peony Bath Salts in a warm bath for a standard-size bathtub and 1 cup for a soaker tub. Soak in the warm water for 20 minutes while drinking a full glass of water. At the end of the bath, use a strainer in the drain to catch the plant material for the compost bin.
If you don’t want to clean out the tub after bath time, turn the bath salts into a peony Tub Tea by adding the salts to a paper tea filter or muslin bag.