Peony problem

(Question)

Can someone tell me what’s wrong with this peony bush? It was planted by a previous owner and is unfortunately stuck beside a 10 foot cedar hedge. Someone said it’s mildew to which I tried an anti fungal spray. It’s gets adequate sun and water. I’ve tried digging it up to remove it and it just keeps coming back like that. Help!!!

(Answer)

Peonies have shallow, fleshy roots, and moving it out from the cedar hedge is the first most helpful solution for the fungus reoccurring. Peonies are a sun loving perennial plant, that should have at least 6 hours of sunlight a day for good blooming. Being next to a 10 foot cedar hedge likely means two things, more shade, especially on the adjacent side, and inadequate water, as the hedge will take most of it.

So, once in full sun and not crowded by other plants, air circulation is your first defense against mildew – a whitish, almost powdery coating, usually on the stalks of the plant. If badly affected, I would use a sulfur mix and spray. It is an acceptable spray in the City of Toronto.

When the fall comes, is when you do the major protection from mildew. Cut the plant to the ground, and completely remove all traces of mildewy leaves and stalks from around the plant. That way, when spring comes, spores from mildewy leaves will not be splashing up to the newly growing plant. Even so, some hot, wet summers will be a mildew provider, so be diligent.

Although I can see no evidence when enlarging the photo, another possibility is Botrytis blight. It is common, especially when the early spring rains are prolonged. Shoots wither, leaves had wet splotchy appearance, and the buds often brown and shrivel up.

For more information: http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/gardens-gardening/your-garden/help-for-the-home-gardener/advice-tips-resources/visual-guides/peony-problems.aspx