Peony Buds Turn Brown And Do Not Bloom

Question From: R. Barber - Westland, Michigan, United States
Q: About a third of my `old line` peonies are blooming but the rest aren`t. They bud out but stop and turn brown. These were in the yard when we moved here in 1975. Very faithful and carefree until the last two years. Should I be doing more fertilizing?

A: Russell, Your peonies have a fungal disease. If they are in part shade give them more light. Cut them back to the ground and clean up and put all cuttings and fallen leaves in the trash. In spring you may want to treat them with a fungicide every ten days when the shoots emerge and the plants stop blooming. Fertilizing with Espoma Plant Tone in early spring will give the plants a boost. You may also want to thin them out. Best And Happy Yardening, Nancy.

Comment: Thanks for the comeback. The peonies are in 100% sun. And I`ve always heard you should not mess with them (IE: move, divide). So I should just dig up and split or remove half in the ground? Thanks-Russell

Response: Russell, That is an old wives' tale. That said digging a 35 plus year old stand will be a lot of work and what you are trying to do is reduce overcrowding and allow some circulation. Cutting pie shaped chunks out of the stand will accomplish that and the spaces will quickly fill in. Mix some good quality compost into the soil and be sure to keep the area well watered it it does not rain. Also keep an eye out for weeds. Good Luck and Happy Yardening, Nancy