What’s Wrong With My Peonies? (Troubleshooting Tips)

If you’re a gardener, you know there’s nothing more beautiful than a blooming peony bush.

But when your peonies aren’t looking their best, it can be a source of frustration.

We’ve all been there – dealing with drooping leaves, wilting stems, and maybe even some disease or insect infestations.

What’s wrong with your peonies? We’ve got you covered.

In this article, we’ll explore the most common causes of peony distress, offer strategies for addressing the issues, and provide helpful care tips for keeping your peonies looking their best.

Ready to troubleshoot your peonies? Let’s get started!

Short Answer

It is difficult to know what is wrong with your peonies without knowing more information, such as what the peonies look like, what their growing conditions are, etc.

The most common problem with peonies is lack of water or too much water, so make sure you are providing the right amount of water for your plants.

It could also be a pest or disease issue, so inspect your plants for signs of pests or disease and take action to address them if necessary.

Finally, peonies need full sun in order to bloom, so make sure they are getting enough sunlight.

Common Causes of Peony Distress

One of the most common causes of distress in peonies is poor drainage.

Peonies require well-draining soil in order to thrive, so if the soil around your plants is overly saturated with water, it can cause the roots to rot and the plants to become sickly.

To test the drainage of your soil, dig a hole a few inches deep and fill it with water.

If the water doesnt drain properly, you may need to mix in some soil amendments, such as compost or sand, to improve drainage.

Insect infestations can also cause distress in peonies.

Aphids, thrips, and Japanese beetles are all common pests of peonies, and they can cause damage to the foliage and flowers.

To combat these pests, try introducing beneficial insects, such as ladybugs, to your garden.

If the pests persist, you may need to use an insecticidal soap or other organic pest control product.

Disease can also be a problem for peonies.

Common diseases include botrytis, powdery mildew, and leaf spot.

To prevent disease, make sure to keep the foliage dry and provide adequate air circulation.

If the plants do become infected, you may need to treat with a fungicide or remove and destroy the infected parts of the plant.

Finally, improper care can lead to distress in peonies.

Peonies need to be fertilized in the spring and fall with a balanced fertilizer.

Additionally, they should be watered deeply but infrequently to avoid saturating the soil.

Finally, be sure to deadhead spent flowers to keep your plants looking their best.

Poor Drainage

Poor drainage in a peony’s soil can be a major issue.

When the soil is too wet, the roots of the plant can become waterlogged and suffocate, leading to yellowing leaves, wilting, and eventual death.

To diagnose this issue, check the soil for moisture; if it is too wet, then poor drainage is likely to blame.

To address poor drainage, the soil must be amended to improve the flow of water.

Amend the soil with plenty of organic matter, such as compost or peat moss, to improve drainage.

Additionally, consider elevating the planting bed to help water flow away from the roots.

If the soil is still too wet, consider using a raised bed or container to ensure the roots stay dry.

Finally, be sure to water the peonies deeply, but not too frequently.

Watering too often will keep the soil wet and encourage root rot.

Aim for deep, infrequent waterings to help the soil stay moist without becoming waterlogged.

If necessary, consider installing a soaker hose to ensure the roots get the water they need without flooding the soil.

Insect Infestations

Insect infestations can be one of the most difficult problems to diagnose and solve when it comes to peonies.

It is important to identify the specific insect that is causing the distress in order to effectively treat the issue.

Common pests that can affect peonies include aphids, slugs, and thrips.

Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that feed on the sap of plants.

They can be identified by their pear-shaped bodies and by the sticky residue they leave behind.

To treat an aphid infestation, it is important to remove the affected plant parts and to apply a systemic insecticide to the entire plant.

Slugs are slimy, shelled creatures that feed on the leaves and stem of plants.

They can be identified by their slimy trails and by the holes they leave in the foliage.

To treat a slug infestation, it is important to hand-pick the slugs from the plant and to apply a slug bait to the foliage.

Thrips are tiny, slender insects that feed on the leaves and stems of plants.

They can be identified by their winged bodies and by the silvery streaks they leave behind on the foliage.

To treat a thrips infestation, it is important to remove the affected plant parts and to apply a broad-spectrum insecticide to the entire plant.

In addition to treating an insect infestation, it is important to take preventative measures to ensure healthy peonies in the future.

Planting peonies in well-draining soil and providing adequate water and fertilizer can help to reduce the risk of insect infestations.

Additionally, it is important to monitor the plants regularly for signs of distress and to take prompt action when an infestation is detected.


When it comes to troubleshooting the health of your peonies, disease can often be an overlooked issue. Common diseases that affect peonies include botrytis, a fungal disease that causes the leaves and flowers to become discolored and wilted; and aster yellows, a virus that causes yellowing of the leaves and stunted growth. To diagnose any of these issues, it’s important to look for the signs of disease: discoloration of the leaves, wilting of stems and flowers, and stunted growth.

If you suspect your peonies are suffering from a disease, one of the best strategies for addressing the issue is to remove and destroy any affected plants.

It’s also important to practice good sanitation and hygiene in the garden, as these diseases can spread quickly if left unchecked.

Additionally, you can apply a fungicide to any affected plants to help prevent the spread of the disease.

Lastly, if you have a chronic problem with disease, consider planting resistant varieties of peony, as they will be more resistant to common diseases.

Strategies for Addressing Issues

When it comes to troubleshooting and addressing issues with your peony, its important to first diagnose the problem.

Common causes of distress in peonies include poor drainage, insect infestations, and disease.

In order to address these issues, its important to first determine what the cause is.

Poor drainage can be one of the most common causes of distress in peonies.

If the soil is too wet or soggy, peonies wont be able to absorb the necessary water and nutrients.

To address this issue, its important to ensure that the soil is well-draining.

This can be done by adding organic matter, such as compost, to the soil mix or by creating raised beds.

Additionally, its important to avoid over-watering as this can also lead to poor drainage.

Insect infestations can also be a common issue for peonies.

These can range from aphids to spider mites, and can be difficult to eradicate.

To address this issue, its important to first identify the type of insect and determine the best course of action.

This could range from using a pesticide or natural insecticide, to encouraging beneficial insects to the garden.

Its also important to practice good garden hygiene by removing dead or dying foliage and weeds, as these can attract insects.

Finally, diseases can also cause distress in peonies.

Common diseases include powdery mildew, leaf spot, and stem rot.

To address these issues, its important to practice good cultural practices such as avoiding overhead watering, providing adequate air circulation, and removing any dead or diseased foliage.

Additionally, its important to avoid planting in areas that have been previously infected.

If the disease has spread, its best to discard the affected plants.

By addressing the issue at hand, you can ensure that your peonies remain healthy and beautiful for years to come.

Additionally, its important to practice proper care and maintenance such as fertilizing and watering according to the needs of the plants.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your peonies remain healthy and thrive for years to come.

Proper Care Tips

Proper care is essential for healthy, thriving peonies.

To ensure your peony blossoms are bright and beautiful, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

First, be sure to water your peonies regularly, as they need a consistent supply of moisture to remain healthy.

Watering should be done at the base of the plant, as overhead watering can lead to disease.

Aim to water the plants about once a week, ensuring that the soil is moist but not saturated.

Next, fertilize your peonies at least once a year.

A balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10 or 5-10-10 can be applied in the spring, just before new growth begins.

If youre using a granular fertilizer, be sure to rake it in gently around the base of the plant.

Finally, make sure your peonies have proper drainage.

If your soil is dense and clay-like, consider adding organic matter such as compost or peat moss.

This will help to create a lighter, more porous soil that allows water to drain away from the plants roots.

By following these simple tips, you can ensure that your peonies remain healthy and flourish for years to come.


Fertilizing peonies is an important part of keeping them healthy and vibrant.

Peonies require an adequate supply of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in order to produce lush foliage and an abundance of blooms.

A balanced fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 10-10-10 is best for peonies, and should be applied in early spring and again in mid-summer.

Its important to avoid over-fertilizing, as too much can burn the plant and cause damage.

Additionally, its best to apply fertilizer when the soil is moist, and to water the plant after application to help the nutrients penetrate the soil.

Organic fertilizers are also an option, and can provide additional nutrients and help to improve soil structure.

Compost or manure are great options, and can be applied in the spring, summer, and fall.


When it comes to watering peonies, its important to get the balance just right.

Generally, its best to water peonies deeply and infrequently, allowing the soil to dry out in between waterings.

Too much water can cause peonies to become waterlogged, leading to root rot and other diseases.

Too little water can cause the plants to become stunted and the buds to fail to open.

The best way to gauge when to water is to check the soil around the base of the plant with your finger.

If its dry an inch or two down, its time to water.

When you do water, its important to make sure that you water the entire root system of the plant.

This can be done by setting up a soaker hose or sprinkler around the base of the plant.

You should aim to water your peonies until the soil is completely saturated.

You may also want to consider mulching around the base of your peony plants to help the soil retain moisture.

Finally, its important to note that peonies do not like to be disturbed once theyre planted.

If you need to move the peony, make sure you do so in the fall after the plant has gone dormant.

Otherwise, you run the risk of damaging the root system and stressing the plant out.

Final Thoughts

Now you have the tools to diagnose and address any issues that may arise with your peonies.

Whether it’s poor drainage, insect infestation, or disease, you can now recognize the signs and take the appropriate action.

Additionally, you are now equipped with proper care tips, such as fertilization and watering, to ensure healthy peonies in the future.

So don’t be discouraged if you have issues with your peonies, just take the steps outlined in this article and you’ll be well on your way to cultivating beautiful flowers.

James Simpson

James is a thirty-one year old man who loves to write about flowers. He is always eager to learn more about different types and how to care for them. He has a knack for finding rare and beautiful varieties and is always on the lookout for something new.

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