The Q&A Archives: Wilting Peony Buds

Question: For the past two growing seasons now my peony bushes have come up looking healthy and forming many buds. Before the buds can open and blossom, however, they wilt and fall off. The rest of the bush remains green and healthy. What is the cause of this and how do I remedy it? I don't fertilize -- should I?

Answer: It sounds to me like your peonies are infested with thrips, which burrow into buds and drink their juices. If you have any of the fallen buds, take a closer look to see if you can identify their work - pale, desiccated tissue, and dark fecal matter. The bugs themselves are hard to see because they're tiny, and the adults flit away as you approach. They usually attack plants that are drought-stressed. If your peonies are growing in a well-drained, sandy soil, add some compost to the area, keep them mulched and well watered. Add a fresh layer of compost every spring. During the summer, spritz them monthly with a seaweed fertilizer solution. Hope this helps!

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