Trader Joe's $20 Peony Challenge


There is nothing that says springtime quite like some fluffly pink peonies. We posed the question to our social media pages of what type of arrangement you'd like to see for our next Trader Joe's Challenge. Needless to say, the results made my palms a little sweaty, but I love a challenge! You voted for a tall vase recipe that cost just $20 from Trader Joe's and included peonies in the design.


This was especially tricky to pull off because:


Peonies can be pricey. We were able to snag a 5 stem bunch for $7.99, but that didn't leave much left in the budget to fill out the arrangement


and also,


Budget-friendly blooms are short. Retailers get great deals on flowers with shorter stems. However, when designing in a tall vase you need at least some of the stems to be 2x the height of the container to create the right proportions


Before you take a crack at this recipe, here's a few tips:










Pick your vase before heading to the store. I chose this inexpensive hobnail vase which is about 10" tall. If you can't get tall enough flowers for the size of your vase, add some glass marbles, rocks or other vase filler to the bottom to create height








On your shopping list, you'll want to make sure you select at least 1 flower that is 2x the height of your vase. I used a fuchsia stock flower because it has great fragrance, nice long linear stems, and at $3.99 for a bunch of 7, you can't beat the price.














If you're tight on budget, grab a mixed bouquet to add interest. I splurged on a $9.99 mixed bouquet that included a few yellow billy balls, and lots of interesting flowers and fillers such as mini gerber daisies, solidago, mums, and a little bit of greenery.



If you're doing the math, I confess I went over budget by $2...but!...not all the flowers I purchased were used in the design. I had a couple of peonies, lots of stock and a few of the extra flowers leftover. Plenty to make some cute little votive designs.



Here's the recipe to recreate this design, but feel free to substitute flowers as necessary:


3 peonies


3 gerber daisies


5 stock flower


2 spider mums


3 button mums


3 billy balls


2-3 solidago


a few stems of lily grass





This design was creating using the "hand-tie" method of flower arranging. To create a hand-tie, start by stripping the lower foliage off of all your stems, particularly those that will sit in the water. This will keep your water clean and ensure the flowers last longer. Lay all your stripped stems out on a table, ready to use.















Start with your tallest flowers, crisscrossing the stems and holding them loosely between your thumb and pointer finger.














Layer 2-3 more stems, placing them at an angle in your hand. Layer each new stem slightly lower than the last (this will keep your arrangement looking more linear and less roundy-moundy). Using your right hand to assist, give your arrangement a quarter turn and place 2 more stems at an angle.
















Your peonies will likely be your biggest flowers in the arrangement. To keep things feeling balanced, place them last in your hand at the very bottom close to your thumb. They will rest closely to the lip of the container.
















If there seem to be any holes that need a flower or two, feel free to loosen your grip and poke them in. To finish, use some wire, twine, or raffia to tightly tie the bouquet just below where your thumb was resting.















To finish, hold your completed design up to the outside of the vase. Trim the stems to a height where the your lowest blooms sit just above the lip of the container.


Need a little help with your hand-tie?


Check out this YouTube video tutorial.


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Stratford, Connecticut, USA

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