The Q&A Archives: Peony Foliage

Question: My peonies return every year and look wonderful--until they finish blooming. Once the blooms have faded, the foliage turns red and starts to wilt. Do I have a mineral deficiency in my soil? How do I prevent this from happening again this year?

Answer: The reddening leaves could indicate a phosphorous deficiency. The nutrient may be lacking because it there is not enough available in the soil or, it is in a form that is unavailable to the plants. To solve the problem, fertilize with a higher phosphorous count than usual (phosphorous is the second number in the analysis, for example, ina 5-10-10, the second 10 is the amount of phosphorous). You could try an 8-10-8, carefully following package instructions. Also, ou might want to have your soil tested for nutrient levels and, especially, pH--the soil's relative acidity can affect nutrient uptake. (Contact your local Cooperative Extension office for soil test kits.)

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