Peonies are long-lived perennials that provide a blast of spring colors for many, many years. Peonies bring to mind grandma's garden, and often they can still be found around old homeplaces where no one currently lives.

Unfortunately, peonies are marred by several diseases: peony leaf blotch, Botrytis, and powdery mildew. Often, they are all found together on one plant and just make it look downright awful.

The good news is that these diseases rarely kill garden peonies. Symptoms tend to worsen as the season progresses but plants seem to get enough carbohydrate stores to regrow the next season.

The bad news is that the diseases seriously lessen the aesthetic value in landscapes. And more importantly, infections get worse over time if no measures are taken to break the disease cycles.

FALL

MANAGEMENT:

Cut, remove, and destroy all the top growth to the soil line.

Rake, remove, and destroy all mulch and plant debris that was beneath the infected plants

Redistribute new mulch for the winter to a depth of only 2-3". This will suppress the release of fungal spores next spring from infectious debris that may have been missed during fall cleanup

SPRING: When needed, protect new shoots using an appropriately labeled fungicide. It may need to be applied once or twice.

NEXT GROWING SEASON:

Remove and destroy bloom buds, flowers, and stems showing signs of Botrytis infections. Deadheading spent flowers is recommended.

Selectively prune plants to improve air circulation which will enhance leaf and stem drying

Avoid overhead irrigation, drip irrigation is preferred.

For more information, call the Pulaski County Extension office at 679-6361. Become a fan of Pulaski County Horticulture on Facebook and/or follow @hortagentbeth on Twitter, kyplants on Instagram, and Pulaski County Horticulture YouTube channel.

Information and photos used courtesy of BYGL, Ohio State Extension.

The Lake Cumberland Master Gardeners have pine straw for sale each Tuesday from 9am to 3pm at the Pulaski Co Extension office.

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