Articles about Peony disease
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Friday, April 24, 2020

2020 Solarize Peony Bed Soil to Sterilize It

Solarize Peony Bed Soil to Sterilize It

As you may know, it appeared to me that my Intersectional Peony 'Callie's Memory' died of root rot, 2020 Intersectional Peony 'Callie's Memory' Dies of Root Rot? I have no way of knowing for sure, but there weren't any roots left on that peony. There could have been a host of factors that caused its demise. Regardless, it must have rotted in at least some way. So I decided to solarize the soil to kill any pathogens that might still be present there before replanting the area.

Solarize Peony Bed Soil to Sterilize It

To do this I simply placed a clear sheet of plastic over the area and weighted it down with bricks on the edges. After 6-8 weeks the soil should be ready for planting. However I will probably wait much longer than that to replant, most likely until fall to plant my replacement potted Intersectional Peony 'Callie's Memory', 2020 Potted Up Intersectional Peony Roots for Fall Planting. You may remember when I originally started this intersectional peony bed, I solarized the subsoil, 2012 Peony Bed Soil Solarization, before bringing in some 2012 New Dirt for New Peony Beds. I never solarized the new dirt I put on top as top soil. So I suppose now's the time to make sure I solarize it now too. ;-)

Thursday, April 9, 2020

2020 Intersectional Peony 'Callie's Memory' Dies of Root Rot?

Intersectional Peony 'Callie's Memory'

Most of you probably know that 2020 Intersectional Peony 'Callie's Memory' Dies!!. You probably also know that I've ordered a replacement as well, 2020 Intersectional Peony 'Callie's Memory' from Hirt's Gardens on Ebay. So the next thing to do was to dig up the dead one to see what happened to it. As you can see there wasn't much left of the peony when I dug it out of the ground this week. It was actually quite disappointing. Judging by the barely attached limp shell of a root, it seems this peony suffered from some kind of root rot.

Intersectional Peony 'Callie's Memory' Before Digging

I know that I've had peonies to rot over the winter that are brand new roots and never get established, but this is the first time I've had an established 6 year old peony plant die from root rot. We did have record-breaking rainfall in 2018. So I'm not sure if that could have caused it, being 2 years ago, but maybe it could have started then and finished it off now? Who knows...

Digging Up Intersectional Peony 'Callie's Memory'

As you can see I started digging far away from the plant, but finding nothing, had to go to the center. I couldn't find much anything of substance or weight to dig. There was really nothing left but a few chunks of the crown, with not much root to speak of at all. Really the above ground stems left from previous years attached by a small bit of crown was really all that was left. I was kind of hoping to find a bit more. I took the three chunks I could find and washed them off on a some cement with the garden hose. Whatever it was that go it, got it good.

Intersectional Peony 'Callie's Memory' Crown Chunks

This makes me think about sanitation a bit more for sure. I wonder if it could have been caused by conditions and or fungal infection from the original grower. I don't currently soak any of my peony roots in a bleach solution, but this makes me wonder if I should. I also wonder if it could be something in the native soil that just multiplied with our extensive rain in 2018. Regardless there's most likely something in the soil now. So I think my next project for that area will be solarization to help sanitize the area just in case. I actually did my first solarization project to create this intersectional peony bed originally back in 2012 Intersectional Peony Bed Preparation, and I was happy with the results. Now it's time for a refresh!

Intersectional Peony 'Callie's Memory' What's Left

Friday, May 10, 2019

2019 Peony 'Many Happy Returns' Has a Hard Time with Wilt from Fungus

Peony 'Many Happy Returns' Deformed by Fungus

I keep thinking it's going to get better, but it's not. I've had this peony 'Many Happy Returns' for several years - since 2007 to be exact, so 12 years almost. Almost every year it is diseased, with wavy stems, stunted growth, and spots. Somehow it still manages to bloom most every year. Don't get me wrong sometimes it has okay years, but most of the time is doesn't. That's why this peony can never be a Southern Peony Best Performer because I mean, come one, who really wants a peony with wavy stems (and sometimes wavy foliage too)? I'm not sure if the fungus will ever kill this plant or not, but I don't think it will ever be pretty unless you spray it (and I don't spray anything for fungus in my garden). What you see is what you get. Luckily this is the only plant in my garden with this problem. Good thing there are several other red cultivars to choose from that don't have this issue.

Peony 'Many Happy Returns' Deformed by Fungus

Peony 'Many Happy Returns' Deformed by Fungus

Peony 'Many Happy Returns' Deformed by Fungus

Peony 'Many Happy Returns' Deformed by Fungus

Peony 'Many Happy Returns' Deformed by Fungus

Peony 'Many Happy Returns' Deformed by Fungus

Thursday, May 9, 2019

2010 Too Much Rain Rots Herbaceous Peony Blooms

Peony 'Bowl of Cream' Rotten Bloom

I've never seen anything quite like this before. Usually the buds and blooms on herbaceous peonies get busted or die way before they start to open. These buds on Peony 'Bowl of Cream' and Peony 'Kansas' made it pretty much all the way to open, but the seemingly endless rain we've had this year seems to have badly rotted some buds that started to open in the rain. I'm not sure if this is some kind of disease or blight or really just rotting from too much water. Luckily this only happened on one bloom on each of these plants. So it's definitely not systemic. My guess is these peonies will be back to normal next year (provided Mother Nature pulls back on the rain a bit!) Let's see...

Peony 'Kansas' Rotten Bloom

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

2019 Weak Peony Stems Knocked Down by Torrential Wind and Rain

Peony 'Lemon Chiffon' Stem Knocked Down

I'm not sure that I've ever seen a massacre quite like this one. Yes, usually the weakest stems that are most susceptible to botrytis blight will usually succumb to its stem withering powers. However we've had quite the rain these last couple of days and weeks (maybe for the last year). We've had a few thunderstorms that have been quite mighty with pummeling rain and punishing winds. So I have lots of peonies in my garden whose weaker outer stems have fallen in this tragedy. These two peonies, Peony 'Lemon Chiffon' and Peony 'Horizon', are just a couple of examples of the casualties.

Peony 'Lemon Chiffon' Outer Stems Knocked Down

Some of these buds may have opened had it not been as windy. Too bad that all of buds never seem to make it to opening day for one reason or another. It would have been nice to see these peonies in bloom with even more open flowers on each bush. Oh well, I guess I will cut them off before the weakened stems transmit the disease to the healthier parts of the peony plant. No sense crying over spilled milk, I suppose. There are still lots of other blooms in the garden waiting to open!

Peony 'Horizon' Stem Knocked Down

Peony 'Horizon' Outer Stems Knocked Down

Friday, September 28, 2018

2018 Questions - Growing Peonies in the Deep South, Dealing with Fungus

I received this question from Ellery in zone 8a/9b:

"I was reaching out to see if there are any APS members with experience growing in the deep south. I garden in Thomasville, GA, and Tallahassee, FL (8A out in the country to maybe even a 9A microclimate in town), and have been experimenting for the past two years with peonies - P lactiflora, officinalis, cambessedessii, rockii, suffruticosa, as well as a variety of species from seed. Many of the plants are really hurting at this point. Some certainly have botrytis, others possibly phytophthora (though most are still potted, and in a very free-draining bark-based mix that I would not have thought conducive to phytophthora, but we have had rain literally almost every day this summer), but I just don't have the experience to diagnose for sure. General recommendations regarding sun exposure and other basic cultivation tips for this area would also be helpful."

Potted Peony Dealing with Fungus

I garden in the South, but I am in zone 7b. So just shy of your 8A. I'm noticing that you don't seem to have any Intersectional Hybrids. I would highly recommend trying these Itohs / Intersectional Peonies. They are a cross between a tree peony and herbaceous peonies, and they are quite vigorous and tolerate warm climates well. Peony 'Bartzella' a yellow variety is one of the best.

My web site also lists several varieties that grow well for me here under my "Best Performer" section... (intersectional, herbaceous, and tree)

No matter what peony you grow, all peonies will look ragged and worn by the now (the end of the season). Almost every peony I grow gets blight at some point in the season. It's just something I live with, since I don't like to spray chemicals. You could try experimenting with fungicides, but these are not a cure and would have to be sprayed every year on a regular basis to keep the fungal diseases at bay. That's all you are really doing is making the fungus less noticeable. It is always there in the environment. So I prefer to just live with it, try to grow cultivars that are vigorous enough to live with it, without succumbing to it / dying from it.

Some rockiis do well here and other don't. One I bought as a plant just died this winter with the bad thaw/freeze cycle we just had. However one of the plants I grew from seed was just fine and had two spectacular blooms on it this year. I don't grow too many species here, although I've tried to grow several from seed. None of them have really taken off besides p. rockii.

The easiest to grow tree peony (which has the hardiest roots as well), is Tree Peony 'White Phoenix'. It is also on my best performers page. It is a single white, but it grows larger with more blooms every year and the frosts this year did not affect it. The Chinese have grown this plant (from p. ostii) for thousands of years. They call it the Millennium Peony.

Also full sun is always best for herbaceous and intersectional peonies, while tree peonies can tolerate some shade. However for more blooms, more sun is always better. Also I would recommend trying to plant any of your potted peonies in the ground. Some of the varieties and species you are growing may not be suitable for your area. However I would definitely give some of our Southern Peony Best Performers a try, and if you need ideas on where to plant them check out our article on Top 5 Spots to Plant a Peony.

Hope that info helps!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

2015 Late Spring Peony Root Order

I finally got my first peony order of the year in yesterday. I was planning to place my order with Solaris Farms. I had been waiting to place my order until now because I had other large expense in previous months like new tires for my car, a trip to the 2015 American Peony Society Convention in Kentucky, etc. Anyway I guess I waited too late in the year because one of the peonies I wanted to order from Solaris Farms was already sold out for 2015, Peony 'Sonoma Velvet Ruby'. I really want to order this peony because the red color is nice, but another reason is because I am looking for a red intersectional whose foliage doesn't get brown spots on it very early in the season. Both of my other red intersectional peonies, Peony 'Scarlet Heaven' and Peony 'Lafayette Escadrille' get the Intersectional Peony Fungal Disease Peony Blotch on them. So I'm hoping Peony 'Sonoma Velvet Ruby' will have different enough genetics that perhaps it won't get this disease.

2015 Peony Order - 3 Intersectional Peonies
Peonies 'First Arrival', 'Sonoma Velvet Ruby', and 'Smith Family Yellow'
from Adelman Peony Gardens

I'm sure it is no surprise that all three of the peonies I ordered this year were intersectional peonies. I ended up placing my peony order this year with Peony Paradise, Adelman Peony Gardens this year. Their prices were a little higher than Solaris Farms for both Peony 'First Arrival' and Peony 'Sonoma Velvet Ruby', 2015 Intersectional Peony Catalog Price Comparison List. However they did have a peony I've been really wanting called Peony 'Smith's Family Yellow' since 2013. I was hoping they price would drop a bit, but it hasn't yet, and I'm tired of waiting! The other peony I ordered, Peony 'First Arrival', I already have, but it is mislabeled. I ordered it from some other non-peony grower, and I got Peony 'Bartzella' instead! So now I should get the real thing. :-)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

2014 Intersectional Peony Fungal Diseases

Intersectional Peony 'Misaka'
with Phytophthora? Fungal Disease

This year I noticed the same three intersectional peonies had the same fungal diseases they did last year. I was wondering if there was anything I could do to prevent it next year or if I need to get rid of the entire plant. None of my other intersectional peonies have any diseases to speak of. However these 3 specimens were apparently sold to me with the diseases, unfortunately. The intersectional peony pictured above, Peony 'Misaka', I purchased as a potted plant from a local nursery, and it did seem a little suspect when I bought it. I'm wondering if it has Phytophthora blight because of the curled, deformed leaves. Plus I've seen plenty of Botrytis blight on my herbaceous peonies before, and this seems to be a little different. I guess I know better now than to buy anything that seems a little iffy. However the two intersectional peonies pictured below were both purchased as roots from two different reputable growers. I had never seen any incidence of Peony Blotch in my garden until I got these two intersectional peonies with the disease, Peony 'Layfayette Escadrille' and Peony 'Scarlet Heaven'. That is interesting because both of those 2 intersectionals are red in color. I wonder if they are somehow related and more susceptible to the Peony Blotch fungus.

Intersectional Peony 'Scarlet Heaven'
with Peony Blotch Fungal Disease

Intersectional Peony 'Lafayette Escadrille'
with Peony Blotch Fungal Disease

When researching these diseases on Google, I found this awesome page on Peony Problems on the Missouri Botanical Garden web site. It seems like the only thing I can try to get rid of these fungal diseases is to make sure to cut these peonies all the way back to the ground in the fall. I will try that and hope it works, since I usually don't cut my intersectional peonies all the way back. I try to cut them back only to their lowest surviving bud, which usually keeps a bit of the stem there. I hope it does work, since the MOBOT web page seems to suggest removing and discarding the plant and its soil entirely as the only other alternative. I hope it doesn't come to that... :-(

Saturday, July 6, 2013

2013 Peony Disease Stem Wilt

Peony Stem Wilt

This poor bud was so close to opening, but unfortunately it was affected by a fungus causing the peony stem to wilt. This stem was infected with botrytis blight which can affect the plant in several ways like stunted growth, Bud Blast, Spotty Foliage, and stem wilt. As you can see from the close up photo below, the infected stem is covered with small reddish black sores or spots. These spots will turn darker as they age and the infected tissue rots. These spots are the evidence of the botrytis fungal disease on the stems. Unfortunately the only thing that can be done for this problem is removal, and the sooner the better. The botrytis blight needs to be removed from the plant as soon as possible to interrupt its reproductive cycle and prevent it from creating spores that will infect next year's foliage. The stem should be pruned back to remove all of the visible blight to just before the next clean leaf on the stem. Once the infected stem segment has been removed from the peony plant, it is imperative that the diseased tissue be removed from the area by trashing it and never composting the infected foliage. Careful, consistent, and timely sanitary practices should improve the health of your plant over time. Good luck!

Close Up of Peony Stem Wilt

Monday, June 10, 2013

2013 Deadheading Removing Spent Peony Blooms

I just spent the last 2 days deadheading my peonies - removing the spent blooms on my peony plants. You can do this on all of your peonies if you like. Or if you want to see if any seeds will develop in the seed pods you can just deadhead those with no seed pods - like most double and bomb type peonies. These types rarely set seed. The single and semi-double peony forms are more likely to set seed. I've heard it is very important to remove all of the peony foliage and never compost it. So any peony foliage I remove from my gardens is always sent to the landfill. If you have seen the effects of botrytis on peonies, then you know why this is so important. Botrytis is a fungus that can be spread in wet conditions most easily on developing and growing foliage. It will cause a black spotting on the leaves and stems, bud abortion, and in heavy cases black fungal growths with spores. So as you can see my peony refuse is bagged and stored in my trash receptacle until my friendly neighborhood trash man comes to take it away!

Bagged Deadheaded Peony Blooms & Foliage

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

2013 Peony 'Kansas' Best Performer - Week 4

Peony 'Kansas' is usually an okay plant in my garden, being sometimes susceptible to botrytis blight. However this year, it is really a beauty. Without any long periods of rain in the early peony growing season (when the foliage is first developing) botrytis blight has really been reduced this year throughout my garden. This has given Peony 'Kansas' an excellent opportunity to shine. The blooms are just huge, and even though some the blooms nod a bit, they are not on the ground by any means. So the stems on this plant are really strong because the size of these flowers are just enormous! The number of petals on these very full double peonies is almost unbelievable. Also you can't beat the color of these blooms, a clear dark fuchsia pink, which really stands out in the garden. Peony 'Kansas' is also an American Peony Society Gold Medal Winner from 1957.

Peony 'Kansas'
Southern Peony Best Performer

Peony 'Kansas'
Southern Peony Best Performer

Monday, May 13, 2013

2013 Peony Blooms Mid - Week 4

This week Mid season Week 4, the intersectional peonies continued to bloom along with some anemone, single, and semi-double type peonies. Several of the very full double peonies just began to open this week. The weather has been beautiful this week. There has been quite a bit of rain, but I think it came late enough in the peonies' development so that most of the foliage is already up and more mature and resistant to disease. So, happily, the incidence of botrytis blight has been much reduced this year. With the increased rain this week, I have noticed an increased incidence of botrytis blight on some very late peonies whose foliage is just beginning to break ground. However most of my peonies are up and doing great! Hopefully the reduced incidence of disease will lead to stronger plants that can store plenty of energy this year, which should lead to bigger plants and more blooms next year!
Peony 'Sonoma Amethyst'
Peony 'Gay Paree'
Peony 'Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt'
Peony 'White Emperor'

Sunday, April 21, 2013

2013 Planted P. Rockii and P. Ludlowii Peony Plants

Today I planted the P. Rockii Peony Plant that Arrived last week in the mail from Edelweiss Perennials. I decided to keep in in the pot for a short while to make sure it had plenty of water this week, and it looks like it helped it a lot. The leaves are no longer wilted looking, and it seems like it even grew a bit. I guess I planted it in the correct place as well. I planted it where it will receive some afternoon shade. From what I just read, it seems that the P. rockii tree peonies generally go into early dormancy in places that have hot, dry summers. It sounds like this guy is in for a challenge in this southern climate. Luckily I planted it in a location that will give the plant a bit of relief from our long and hot summers here.

P. rockii Peony Planted

I also got the P. ludlowii peony plant I ordered from Ebay planted today as well. This one looks like a nice plant except it looks like it already has botrytis blight on its stems. This worries me since the seller of this plant calls it a P. delavayi var. lutea ludlowii. The other P. delavayi plant I have with red flowers on it has not done very well here and is always diseased. I hope this yellow P. delavayi variety does not have the same poor performance here. We shall see...

P. ludlowii Peony Planted

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

2012 Peony Viruses

A couple of my peonies have been affected by viruses. The virus seems to affect the same peonies every year. I don't think there is anything you can really do to get rid of it. Viruses in humans are not curable by any medicine, the symptoms can be controlled or suppressed, but the immune system of the body is the only thing that can actually defeat the disease. So either the peony would have to fend it off on its own or find a way to live with it. It seems that most of the time peonies can live with a virus without the plant being too adversely impacted. Also I've noticed that several of the peonies I have planted in shade have a virus. So it seems like peonies that are stressed because they are not planted in ideal conditions are more susceptible to viruses. Those virus infected peonies that I have seem to bloom just fine and are able to increase as well. Most of the time, the foliage of the entire plant is not affected. Sometimes only a portion of the plant is diseased. I'd be curious to see if you divided the plant and threw away the infected portion if the plant would be virus free or if the virus would come back the next year. That may be an experiment for another day...

Peony 'Duchesse de Nemours' with Mosaic Virus

Peony 'Laura Dessert' with Mosaic Virus

Friday, June 15, 2012

2012 Peony Experiments - Cutting Back Dead Flowers

I usually don't get around to cutting back dead flowers on my peonies. The past couple of years I have just left them to fend for themselves until the entire stem dies back. That way I would leave the flower head intact so that seeds could develop. However I have noticed quite a bit of fungal disease, and I wondered if it had any correlation to leaving the spent bloom on the plant. The flower type really seems to make a difference in this. The single and semi-double type flowers that shed their petals easily do not seem to have as much fungal disease as the more full double flowers that seem to hang onto their petals. Also I have noticed that dead petals that have fallen onto foliage below actual contribute to additional fungal growth that otherwise may not have developed. It seems the dying petals create just the right environment (more moist and warm) that the fungus needs to develop.

Dried Peony Petals on Foliage

Fungus on Peony Foliage

Over time I have been able to better recognize which seeds pods actually have developing seeds in them. So this year, I have started cleaning up my full double flowered peonies to remove the spent blooms. I also have 2 peony bushes of a white double peony that are the same variety. I decided to cut back the spent blooms on one of them, but not the other. I will check the amount of fungal disease later in the season. I also plan to cut down the dead foliage on the same one I cut back the flowers on and leave the dead foliage intact on the one I didn't cut back the flowers on. So we shall see how much difference it makes in the amount of fungus on the plants this fall and next spring.

Peony Spent Blooms Not Cut Back

Peony Spent Blooms Cut Back

Monday, April 30, 2012

2012 Peony Disease Bud Blast

I've had several peonies with buds that weren't able to develop. I think it has to do with the weather, which has been a bit weird this spring. It was really rainy right before the foliage and buds started to develop, and then it was dry for quite while they were growing. I could tell that there was some bud blast and blight on some of the foliage, but I think the succeeding dry period prevented it from developing further (which could have been much worse). Established plants seemed to make out with only a bit of brown near the edges of leaves or a rotten stem or perhaps a bud or two that succumbed to the disease. However some peonies that I ordered just last fall were really taken over by blight and disease. I planted these roots in brand new locations. So no other peonies had been planted there. It was previously just organically maintained lawn. It makes me wonder if the peonies had been sprayed with fungicides by the growers to keep the diseases at bay. Then perhaps when they were planted here in my garden, the plants succumbed to the disease that had been previously kept in check by chemicals. Maybe the peonies will come back next year or maybe they will die. I have had both outcomes with new plants from reputable vendors. Let's hope for the best...
Established Plant - Peony 'Do Tell'

Established Plant - Peony 'Scarlet O'Hara'

Newly Planted - Peony 'Carina'

Thursday, May 20, 2010

2010 Rain on Peonies

Rain sure can put a damper on things. I am so grateful for the rain, though. Everything was drying up around here. The grass was getting so dry. So I am sure the peonies appreciate the rain since I don't usually give them any extra water besides what Mother Nature provides. I have watered them on rare occasions in the summer when they've looked so droopy and desperate. Let's hope they don't get that way this year. Right now however we are dealing with a wet spell... I'm curious to see what affect this rain has on the foliage, since it seems most of the peonies have been disease free in the dry spell. Here's a picture of what were some lovely blooms all turned to mush from a couple days of rain...

Monday, December 21, 2009

2009 Fall Peony Cleanup

It's time for winter. Today is the Winter Solstice in fact. So I am a little late cutting back the dead peony foliage this year, but I did get some of it done before winter. I spent some time yesterday removing the dead peony stems and leaves from the herbaceous peonies. The foliage can carry the spores from the botrytis blight and reinfect next years stems. So it is important to remove all stems and leaves from and put this dead foliage in the trash. It is important not to leave these remains or compost them, as the diseases may still propagate. Here are some photos of my 'Karl Rosenfield' peony before and after cleanup. As you can see the hot pink buds for next years stems are visible above ground. Since I live in a southern climate, it is important that the peony be planted at this depth to get the required amount of chilling hours required for flowering.

Peony 'Karl Rosenfield'

Another interesting thing I've noticed the past 2 winters is that one of the intersectional peonies that I have, 'Yellow Crown', sends up new shoots in late summer/early fall that don't seem to die back with the first frost and last for some time into winter. The original shoots from spring have died back, but the later growth still remains.

Peony 'Yellow Crown'

Another intersectional peony that I have, 'Bartzella', has kept above ground stems like a tree peony. I accidentally cut off one of the stems before I realized they had buds on them. I don't know if the stems will survive the winter, but since this peony has never produced any flowers, I am going to leave them in place. It will be an interesting experiment to see if they survive the winter and produce any flowers.

Peony 'Bartzella'