Peonies - Knowledgebase Question

BOSTON, Ma
Question by drlynda6
September 25, 2010
My peonies have a white film and they have turned brittle. They are unsightly in the garden, si there any thing I can do for them. And anything I can do to keep this from happening again next year.


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Answer from NGA
September 25, 2010

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What you describe sounds like powdery mildew, a fungal infection. It's quite common this time of year when days are warm and nights are cold. Since it's the end of the growing season for your peonies you can simply wait for the first frost to blacken the leaves and then cut the stems down to ground level and remove them from the garden. It's important to wait for that first frost which will signal the roots of your peonies to go dormant. If you simply cut off the infected foliage now, your peonies will attempt to replace the stems and leaves. This will sap the stored energy in the roots and they won't grow as well for you next year.

Overcrowding, lack of sufficient sunlight and over fertilization can all contribute to the development of powdery mildew. If your plants are prone to the disease, even though they are getting lots of direct sunshine and there's good air circulation all around, you might try spraying them with a fungicide. Neem oil based fungicides such as Rose Defense can help control the early stages of powdery mildew and can also provide some protection for the remainder of the growing season. If you decide to use a fungicide, be sure to apply according to label directions. Best wishes with your peonies.

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