15 Common Problems With Flowering Peonies

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Do your peonies look somewhat more tough than typical? Peonies are among the most widely grown flowers throughout the year. Nonetheless, they aren’t without a few normal issues that can influence their development. Laura Elsner, a certified master gardener, discusses the most common issues with peonies and offers solutions in this article!

By Laura Elsner The Most Recent Edit: FEBRUARY 18, 2023 | 11 MIN READ peony problems With so many different varieties available to gardeners, peonies are one of the most common plants in flowerbeds all over the world. Developing peonies takes time and tolerance. If they are cared for properly, they can bloom for 100 years. Fortunately, most of the time, peonies are easy to grow and have few problems during their growth cycle.

In any case, things can turn out badly, so critical to distinguish any potential issues might affect the wellbeing of your peonies from the get-go. You can prevent minor issues from developing into much larger issues in the future by determining the cause of the issue as soon as it arises.

There are a few common problems that could be affecting your peonies this season if they are looking a little rough. Let’s take a look at the most common issues that may be affecting your peonies and how to get them back on track!

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Leggy Stems and Not many Blossoms
Lovely scene with pink blossoms on a green knoll. Because there isn’t enough sunlight, peony stems have long legs and are pushed forward. They have dark green, complex leaves with deep lobes. The double flowers, which are a lovely shade of soft pink, have large, rounded petals that are arranged in a pom-pom pattern around medium-sized, densely growing petals in the center of the flower.
Lack of sunlight may cause your peonies to grow too tall.
A clear indication of insufficient sunlight is the presence of long, dangling stems and few thin, weak blossoms. Peonies flourish in full sun conditions. resulting in more than six hours of sunlight per day. Your peonies will be large, bushy, and covered in blossoms here. Your peony requires more sunlight if it appears to be stringy or “leggy” and has few blooms that stretch outward.

There are two ways to achieve this. You can uncover and move them to an area with more sun. Moving peonies is not always a good idea because it will take them a few seasons for them to bloom again.

However, it makes no sense to leave them where they are if they aren’t growing tall, bushy, and full of blossoms. Your other choice is to cut back whatever is impeding the sun. This will be the situation in the event that you established in full sun yet throughout the long term your nursery has filled in. Huge trees and bushes are currently concealing the region.

You can prune back trees and hedges to take the sun back to your nursery. Due to the difficulty of pruning large trees, this is not always the best option. Recall peonies are a long term speculation, so consider how trees will develop throughout the years while planting.

Crispy Leaves and Scorched Petals A close-up of white peony petals that have been scorched and are crunchy brown against dark green leaves. The large, double flowers have white, rounded petals.
Peonies need protection from the scorching midday sun, despite the fact that they prefer full sun.
Okay, I’m going to go back a little bit after I said that peonies do best in full sun. While peonies truly do require full sun, they in all actuality do see the value in some security from the warm evening sun. Especially in warmer regions and at higher elevations where the sun shines more brightly.

On the off chance that your peonies get an excess of extreme focus sun, similar to the mid year evening beams, you might see firm leaves and seared petals on your peonies.

Keep this in mind when planting your peonies for the first time. If you already have a peony planted in too much sun, try putting up shade sails to protect it. Plant them in an eastern exposure where they will get some afternoon shade or under a tree where they will get some afternoon shade but not too much. Or on the other hand plant a few different plants, similar to a bush or a tree, close by that will ultimately offer some shade. Move them just if all else fails.

Floppy Yellow Stems and Foliage
Close-up of shriveled pink peonies with fallen, brown, dry petals on the grass. The large, slow-moving, double, pale pink flowers have brown-dry petals. The yellow, long stems The leaves are lanceolate, light green in variety.
Waterlogging may be the cause of the yellowing of the leaves and the weakening of the stems.
Your peony may have received too much water if its stems are weak and floppy and the leaves are yellowing earlier in the season. This can ultimately prompt contagious illness like mold and stem and root decay.

Peonies can’t stand to be in soggy, wet soil. Make sure your peony is located in a garden area where water drains away from it. Make sure the soil is loose and capable of freely absorbing and evaporating water when selecting a location for your peony. Your peony should not be planted in a wet area of your garden.

If your peony is in a wet location, you will need to dig it up and move it. After it has been dug up, remove any mushy and rotten roots by pruning. Replant into pleasant cushy soil that channels.

A close-up of young green peony leaves with water drops shows that there are no blooms. They have purple-edged, large, shiny, deep-lobed, lanceolate leaves.
In order for the plant to bloom, it is essential not to bury the crown in the ground.
Peonies are a simple plant to develop, whenever they are laid out and developing. They might start out as divas. They must first establish themselves; after being planted, they may not bloom for a few seasons.

In the event that in excess of a couple of seasons have passed, and you are still just seeing foliage, however no sprouts, now is the ideal time to investigate. Peonies should be planted precisely at their crown, no more profound. Some plants, like tomatoes and coleus, can be planted higher up the stem to produce additional roots. Peonies don’t do that. If soil is compacted around the plant’s crown, they will not bloom.

When you first plant, the reddish-pink “eyes” will be visible just below the crown. It is essential to only bury these eyes in soil up to a maximum depth of 12 inches. If you give it any more, it won’t bloom. Also, remember not to bury the crown when adding compost to your beds.

You will need to dig it up and replant it if you planted it too deeply. This probably means that it won’t bloom for a few more seasons, but it should start to bloom after that.

Only bloom for a few days Close-up of pink blossoms surrounded by vibrant green foliage. The blossoms are huge, twofold, comprise of a similar size adjusted petals organized in a few lines encompassing brilliant stamens. One of the flowers had all of its petals fall off, exposing the stamens. The leaves are divided, oval, glossy, and bright green.
Because the flowers in your peonies are so delicate and fragile, keep them away from strong winds.
One of our gardens’ shorter-lived blooms is the peony. They normally sprout for a multi week time span. On the off chance that you find your sprouts blur to seed heads in a couple of days, it very well may be a direct result of the area.

My neighbor had a column of peonies along their carport. I was overjoyed to see them bloom when I first moved in. But when the season arrived, their flowers vanished in a day, poof. The location of their driveway was blustery. One great breeze and the petals were no more.

Peonies are delicate flowers that will be destroyed by strong winds and rain. When planting, try to locate a protected location. within a garden that is enclosed by a fence, close to a house, or near a tree that provides some protection. On the off chance that you’ve established peonies in a pot, migrate it to an alternate area. In the event that they are out in the open or you are involving them as a fence, this isn’t great.

You have two choices for this one. Your peony will not bloom for a few months if you either relocate it or move it. Alternately, you can add security. An enormous bush on one side, a wall, a support, a lattice, or an arbor can all add insurance from wind.

Eaten Flower Petals A close-up of a green beetle tucked away among the bright pink petals of a peony in a sunny garden against a background of dark green leaves. The beetle has a shiny shell and a vivid green color. The flower is double, large, dense, and bright crimson. It has large, rounded petals around dense, shorter petals in the center.
Peony beetles are common, flower-feeding pests.
Your flowers are in full bloom because it is peony season. In any case, the petals have little openings in them causing the blossom to have a worn out appearance. Sadly, these might be hoplia beetles. In the spring, these beetles, which measure about 1/4 of an inch in length, consume the blossoms.

Sadly, there is no genuine miracle spray available here. Hand-picking these pests is the most effective method for controlling them.

Put them in a bucket of soapy water and pick them up. It won’t be a summertime job; it will only need to be done when the peonies are in bloom.

Under the weight of their flowers, the flowers fell over and bent towards the ground. The large, double flowers have numerous petals with wavy edges. Pink and bright crimson are the colors of the flowers. The leaves are lanceolate, oblong, glossy, dark green, strongly divided.
Use enclosures to hold their weighty blossoms back from balancing to the cold earth.
Okay, I said that peonies don’t need much care, but the majority of them do need staking. Many of the varieties have blossoms that are so large that they tip over. Nothing is worse than seeing your peonies hanging down on the dirt as they are about to open.

Here, you have two choices. A peony cage is one option. The two ringed cages that are typically found on tomatoes work very well. When your plant is just beginning to emerge from the soil in the early spring, place the cage on it. This way the peony will grow up and through the ring.

Make a cage out of twine and bamboo or wooden stakes if you missed that window and stake them into the soil around the plant. To really secure the plant, I typically tie a double row of twine.

The alternative choice is to select varieties that do not necessitate staking. Staking is not required for Itoh or tree peonies. A few assortments with more modest blooms, for example, ‘Chocolate Trooper’ likewise don’t need marking.

Purple Blotches on leaves
Close-up of many dazzling green leaves impacted by Purple Blotches. On reddish-brown stems, the leaves are bright green, oblong, and strongly divided. The leaves have purple and earthy colored sporadic blotches. Cobwebs cover some of the leaves.
A fungal disease is to blame if purple-brown spots appear on the leaves of peonies.
If the stems of your plant have streaks of reddish brown and irregular purplish-brown spots. This could be brought about by a parasitic sickness known as peony leaf smear. Peonies are unfortunately susceptible to fungal diseases.

Healthy peonies can only be maintained through prevention. Your peonies should be cut down and disposed of in the fall. Although I’m not a big fan of fall cleanup, peonies should be cut back to prevent fungal infections.

Then, make certain to establish your peonies 2-3 feet separated to take into account sufficient wind stream between them. Also, don’t water from above. Try watering only the soil line with a drip hose that is run through your garden.

There is not much you can do if your plant has peony leaf blotch symptoms. You can remove any unsightly foliage by trimming it off. The affected peonies should then be cut down and disposed of in the fall, not composted. Spray the new shoots with a fungicide in the spring.

White Powder on Leaves A close-up of powdery mildew-affected peony leaves. A powdery film covers the trifoliate leaves, which are strongly divided and have soft, coarsely cut edges. A patchy shadow is cast by the sun as it illuminates the leaves.
Insufficient watering and excessive moisture result in powdery mildew.
Another fungus that can harm your peonies is powdery mildew. On their foliage, you’ll notice a powdery film that can be removed.

Powdery mildew is easier to prevent than to treat, like purple leaf blotch. Begin by chopping down and discarding your peony plants in the fall. Plant your peonies 2 to 3 feet apart to ensure adequate airflow.

Finally, if at all possible, do not water from above. Water only the soil line with drip hoses. If you are using overhead watering, it is best to do so in the early morning so that the leaves can be quickly dried by the sun and do not remain wet throughout the night. That is a mildew-friendly environment.

Naturally, we have no control over the weather, and sometimes wet, rainy springs are inevitable. There are many available fungicides that are made specifically to treat powdery mildew if your peony develops the disease.

Spray as instructed. Then, cut off and dispose of your peony leaf litter to prevent recontamination of the plants next year.

Rotting Stems and Irregular Brown Spots A close-up of botrytis-damaged peony leaves. The leaves have irregular brown and black spots and are pale green and pale yellow.
Side effects of botrytis scourge can be unpredictable earthy colored spots and frail decaying stems.
Botrytis blight can cause rotted stems and irregular brown spots on your peonies. The leaves will have sporadic earthy colored spots and the stems will be powerless and spoiled. The may have a grayish mold covering them.

Peonies are frequently affected by botrytis blight during particularly wet and rainy seasons. Make sure your soil is light and able to remove excess water to prevent it. Peonies should not be planted in wet areas.

To ensure that your plants get enough airflow, leave some space between them. Also, if at all possible, don’t water from above. To water directly at the soil line, I use a drip hose that is snagged through the garden. If you are overhead watering, water in the morning so that the leaves don’t stay wet overnight and can dry in the sun.

To stop botrytis blight, you can spray fungicide on the new peony shoots. If your peonies have had it in the past, I would only do this. This is why I cut down peonies in the fall to prevent fungus from overwintering in the fallen leaves.

In a garden, a close-up of a rotting flower’s stem and damaged rotting leaves are shown against blurred soil. The long, lanceolate leaflets are strongly divided and have browned and blackened edges. The stem has brown spots and a yellowish hue. The blossom is totally dry, shriveled with earthy colored petals.
Stem decay is a growth that influences your peonies because of inadequate wind stream and above watering.
Another parasite that might possibly influence your peonies is stem decay. The sprouting new stems will begin to wilt and rot away. They may have white fuzzy mold covering them.

This is yet another reason why I urge you to cut down and dispose of your peony in the fall; if it is not infected with a fungus, it can be composted.

Also, leave enough space between your peonies and other plants to let enough air flow through their bases. Use a drip hose that only waters the soil line rather than overhead watering. Peonies should not be planted in damp or muddy parts of the garden.

Cut down and dispose of your peony in the fall if you notice any of these symptoms. The accompanying spring splash the new shoots with a fungicide. Work on enhancing drainage and airflow. Your peony might have to be relocated as a result of this.

Curling Leaves A close-up of a white peony bud in full bloom surrounded by green leaves that are elongated, lanceolate, and slightly curled. The flower is large, double, and white-cream in color. Some of the extreme petals have brown spots on them. A peony bramble fills in full sun.
Leaf curling can be caused by too much sun, not enough water, and a sudden drop in temperature.
There are many possible causes of this symptom. Start by looking at the fundamentals if the leaves on your peonies are curling. Their leaves will curl in a number of undesirable circumstances. Leaf curl could result from too much sunlight and not enough water.

Attempt to shield your peony from the scorching afternoon sun. Water profoundly during hot and droughts. A penny’s leaves can also curl when the temperature suddenly drops. This ought to get better on its own as soon as the temperature rises.

Leaf curl can also be caused by insects and diseases. Examine for signs of fungus or insects (refer to some of the preceding points to narrow the search for fungus and insects). If necessary, fungicides or insecticide soap can be applied.

Poorly Shaped Flowers A close-up of a white tree peony with green foliage surrounding its blooms. The flower is large and semi-double, with golden stamens in the center and wavy petals. A few petals are purplish at the base. The leaves are lobed, lengthened with smooth edges.
Thrips are most likely the cause of the deformed peony buds you’re seeing.
I’m sure you are familiar with this horrible bug if you enjoy house plants. Thrips. They can, however, consume peony buds and destroy the flowers.

These minuscule pests infest the areas within and around the buds, resulting in the death of some buds and the malformation of others. Blue sticky tape can be used to test for thrips. The grown-up thrips will adhere on to the strips.

To destroy thrips, shower down the leaves and buds with an insecticidal cleanser, or neem oil. This should be reapplied as thrips have an extremely quick life cycle and you will require various applications to stretch out beyond it.

Buds Turned Black A close-up of one unopened bud and a lush green peony bush. Peony leaves are polished, dazzling green, isolated into lanceolate pamphlets. Bud and stem are a dark burgundy color.
Your peony buds may become damaged by spring frosts, causing them to turn black and stop blooming.
To grow and blossom, peonies need to go cold-dormant. Be that as it may, at times chilly climate can neutralize your peonies. The flower buds can be damaged by a sudden burst of cold weather in late spring. They will close and become black.

The bad news is that there will be no peony blooms during that time of year. The good news is that next season will go well for them. Fortunately, the majority of gardeners don’t experience this often.

One method for keeping away from this is to pick late sprouting assortments, for example, ‘Supper Plate’. Buds from these varieties won’t appear until a little bit later in the growing season.

Ants (Not Really a Problem) A close-up of a few tiny black ants on a peony bud that hasn’t opened yet. Green, pink, and long, lanceolate green leaves on an unopened bud. The body of an ant is long and has several segments: abdomen, mesosome, and head. Their body is covered with an external chitinous shell.
Because they protect the buds from thrips and aphids, ants are beneficial to peonies.
I’ll end this list in a positive way at the end. There are no ants on your peony. Even better, they are good for your peony. There is a symbiotic relationship between peonies and ants, despite the fact that it is a myth that peonies require ants to bloom.

This indicates that they support one another. Ants love the sticky sap that peonies release, so in return, the ants protect the peony buds from thrips and other sucking insects. So don’t worry about the ants. Yet additionally, check for them while you’re picking a bouquet.