Peonies forum→Peony leaves turn yellow

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Peonny
May 19, 2020 6:40 PM CST
Hello Everyone,

I am new to the forum and I would like to learn from your experience as I go along. I live in Alberta Canada (Zone 3). My wife and I love Peony and we decided to pull the trigger to get our first on. We purchased Itoh Peony Bartzella in a pot (12 inch in height) last week from a local nursery . We planted it on the North side adjacent to the house. At this location, the plant gets a maximum of 4.5 to 5 hours of morning sun excluding cloudy days. We used garden mix soil with added compost and bone meal. The plant was happy without issues for the first two days.

We went back for more supply. As part of the friendly conservation with staff, she recommended to plant the Peony in full sun (6 to 8 hours of direct sun) and recommended relocation . We came back home and located a new location in the south side adjacent to the fence. At this location, we have 8 hours of sun. We dig up the plant and migrated to the new location, we did not want to wait too long before it is rooted. We noticed the root has not attached to the soil when it was dig. It was a hot day so we gave plenty of water. We have not watered since. Today is Tuesday, plant leaves began to turn yellow and weep from the bottom of the plant. We poked into the soil and notice the soil is still very moist.

We are getting worry that we may have critically damage our first peony. Can anyone comment on the situation if there is anything that we could do. Truly appreciate your help.
Name: Liz Best
Elizabeth Colorado (Zone 4b)
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LizinElizabeth
May 19, 2020 7:52 PM CST

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I'm not sure what you mean by "weep from the bottom of the plant", do you mean they're wilted? If so that's pretty normal for transplanting when foliage and flowers are present. You might want to give it some temporary shade in the hottest part of the day—they are a full sun plant but it can be hard for them to pull enough water through the roots to keep the foliage healthy just after they're planted, some shade will relieve a bit of the water demand.

If this isn't what you meant please post a picture and we'll try to help. Welcome to the forum!
LizB
Name: LG
Nashvillle (Zone 7a)
Peonies Hummingbirder Hostas Region: Tennessee Butterflies Garden Photography
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Mieko2
May 19, 2020 8:19 PM CST

Moderator

Welcome! ! It is possible that it is overwatered. Try to let it dry out a bit. Make sure that the water doesn't pool around the stems.

Please post photos if you can.

Are you past the last frost dates for Alberta? You do not want the leaves to freeze, so I would keep a close eye on the weather forecasts. You may have to protect your Bartzella if it gets near freezing.
LG - My garden grows with love and a lot of hard work.
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ElPolloDiablo
May 20, 2020 1:33 AM CST
Bartzella is one of the toughest peonies, which says a lot since peonies are among the toughest ornamentals you can buy.
Having said that I suspect your problem is actually not your problem, meaning you were sold a plant that had been soaked wet at the "nursery", and now you are seeing the results. In short the plant has been overwatered and it's likely the potting compound it came with is seriously waterlogged.

What to do now? Your plant is seriously stressed right now, so you should leave it alone as much as possible while it recovers. Remember that peonies are not particularly "heavy drinkers" so cut the water for a while and resist the temptation to use all those "miracle stress cures" sold at extortionate prices. If the rhizome is not rotten the peony will pull through and recover but it needs time and warm soil, not too much water and salts.

A final word of warning: growing peonies takes patience, in some cases a lot of patience. While Itoh's seem to get established pretty fast by peony standards, it takes them several years to start blooming in the earnest.
Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.
-Charles Darwin-

Peonny
May 20, 2020 2:14 PM CST
Thank you all for your comments. Thank You!

Please see the photo of the plant. The late frost has passed in Alberta. I will keep an eye on the weather. I think you are right, the overwater was the issue. It has been 4 days since the first water, the soil is still very moist to touch. It is currently raining and will rain for the next two days. It will need to ride it out. I will minimize the amount of water next time.

As per attached photo, please feel free to provide any comment on the set up of the peony bed. To locate a sunny location, I prepared a 16 x 4 feet peony bed from the existing lawn (not a raised bed). The bed is about 2 inches below grade. I would like to have 5 to 6 peonies in the bed. I trenched around the perimeter of the bed and filled with gravel for drainage. 2 layers of landscape fabric were installed to control the grass and weeds. I put a small amount of gravel to keep the fabric in placed.

Thumb of 2020-05-20/Peonny/104aec

[Last edited by Peonny - May 20, 2020 2:17 PM (+)]
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Name: Liz Best
Elizabeth Colorado (Zone 4b)
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LizinElizabeth
May 20, 2020 3:34 PM CST

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Peony, hope it recovers and sorry I misunderstood your 1st post...if your area is really rainy you might want to take a look at the video of planting peonies at www.peonyparadise.com. That's the Adelmans and they live in the rainiest part of Oregon, she actually plants her rows at ground level and adds soil to cover. I'm moving to a very wet area as well and plan to emulate her method as well as I can....
If you're just experiencing an uncharacteristic bout of rain please feel free to ignore me and listen to the people who understood your concern from the beginning!
Again, welcome to the group!
LizB
Name: LG
Nashvillle (Zone 7a)
Peonies Hummingbirder Hostas Region: Tennessee Butterflies Garden Photography
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Mieko2
May 20, 2020 3:52 PM CST

Moderator

Peonny, I like that raised bed.

It will do fine.

LG - My garden grows with love and a lot of hard work.
Name: Jasmin
Toronto, Ontario (Zone 5b)
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Jasmin
May 20, 2020 4:08 PM CST
Peonny said:Thank you all for your comments. Thank You!

Thumb of 2020-05-20/Peonny/104aec



@Peonny, welcome to the forum. Welcome!

This looks as a tree peony. Right? Do you have the label?

Perhaps because of my monitor, but I cannot see any yellow leaves. I see only green leaves, as the plant is changing the color from reddish (winter, cold temperature) to green (warmer temperature.) Totally consistent with spring temperature changes. Am I missing something?


"Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better."~Albert Einstein
Name: Alex
Toronto, Ontario
Region: Canadian
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AlexUnder
May 20, 2020 5:36 PM CST
A few things to pay attention to -

1. lawns sometimes are sprinkled with herbicides/pesticides, etc - peonies do not like it and react - weird growth, curly growth, wrong color, stop of development. If you did not do it, it does not mean the previous owners did not.
2. be careful amending soil - moisture retention is good for California but for Alberta... especially in winter....same with compost - too much of nitrogen and you will have a huge bush next year without flowers...if your soil is generally ok, make some small amendments, do not overdo it. same with watering.
3. roots in potted peony plants are not at the right depth for your climate, so I suggest to plant it in fall to make sure roots are at the right depth ( get rid of potted soil when planting ) or make provisions of adding soil on the top of the plant in the fall.

Last - it could be beneficial to make some kind of sun cover for a few weeks - nursery plant that has been transplanted does not like 8 hours of sun everyday until it is fully recovered and settled in the place.
[Last edited by AlexUnder - May 20, 2020 5:42 PM (+)]
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Name: Jasmin
Toronto, Ontario (Zone 5b)
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Jasmin
May 20, 2020 5:50 PM CST
What I was trying to say is that your peony looks like a tree peony. Three peonies have to be planted much deeper than pot-level because they have to grow and establish their own roots. That is, potted tree peonies are usually grafted on herbaceous peonies roots and they have to be planted deeper so that their own roots can grow from the tree peony stem (planted 4-5 inches deep.)The herbaceous peony root will eventually die off after a couple of years. By that time, the tree peony should have its roots established.

I know that this sounds confusing, but it is very important that we clarify what type of peony you have, because if not planted properly, the plant will never be able to establish its own roots, and it will eventually die.

Don't worry, nothing will happen in a day or two, but it is important that you plant it properly. That's why I asked for the label, if you still have it.
"Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better."~Albert Einstein

Peonny
May 21, 2020 1:38 PM CST
[Last edited by Peonny - May 21, 2020 2:23 PM (+)]
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Peonny
May 21, 2020 1:53 PM CST
@AlexUnder - you raised a good concern regarding to herbicide. I have lived this house for many years and I do weed spot spray with selective herbicide (Wilson weedout ultra) during the spring time over the years including this early spring. According to the manufacturer's label, it kills a certain type of weeds. Should I stop using it?
Also, not sure if you could tell from the photo if the depth of the plant is correct?

@Jasmin - I no longer have the label but I am positive it is Itoh Bartzella.

Thanks
Name: Alex
Toronto, Ontario
Region: Canadian
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AlexUnder
May 21, 2020 2:23 PM CST
Stop using herbicide around peonies for sure. Depth of plant - not really possible to see from a picture. You can ask the nursery staff you've bought it from, but I suggest to add at least 1 inch of mulch in the fall for 1st year for sure. Probably adding 1 cm of soil on the top of the crown is not bad idea.
[Last edited by AlexUnder - May 21, 2020 7:58 PM (+)]
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Peonny
May 21, 2020 3:24 PM CST
@AlexUnder - for sure I will stop using the herbicide. Regarding to depth, I was told by nursery to plant the same depth as per the existing pot. I just ran outside and took a few photos of the peonies. Sorry the photo is blurry due to heavy rain. I am guessing they are a bit high and may be required 1 to 2 cm of soil on top? Could you please provide comments. Thanks in advance

Peony # 1:

Thumb of 2020-05-21/Peonny/f1326b

Peony #2:

Thumb of 2020-05-21/Peonny/6a8328

Peony # 3

Thumb of 2020-05-21/Peonny/0384eb

[Last edited by Peonny - May 21, 2020 3:26 PM (+)]
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Name: Anya
Fairbanks, AK (Zone 3a)
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anyagoro
May 21, 2020 3:38 PM CST
Peonny, the rain is really heavy! I am afraid the drainage is not good enough for any peony. i wold be terrified if I see my peony in a puddle. Other forum members can add their experience but I wold never allow (if I could) a peony in such high water. If you have a lot of rain like this it could be a good strategy to plant them like Carol Adelman does - on the ground level and make a hill over the plant:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?...

Regarding the depth I wold add more soil, Itoh roots can be planted up to 4" deep. What zone are you in? The colder climate the deeper one would plant peonies. Good luck!
Name: Jasmin
Toronto, Ontario (Zone 5b)
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Jasmin
May 21, 2020 3:40 PM CST
Peonny said:

@Jasmin - I no longer have the label but I am positive it is Itoh Bartzella.



Great! Thumbs up This guy is planting an Itoh peony. Let's first establish that your peony has been properly planted.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?...

I agree with Alex, herbicides are not to be used around peonies.

Here is a video on Bartzellas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?...
You can see the healthy leaf color. Does yours get more yellow. As I said, your leaf color looks OK on my monitor, but that might be misleading.
"Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better."~Albert Einstein
Name: Jasmin
Toronto, Ontario (Zone 5b)
Peonies Roses Clematis Native Plants and Wildflowers Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Bee Lover
Cat Lover Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Enjoys or suffers cold winters Region: Canadian Permaculture Garden Ideas: Level 2
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Jasmin
May 21, 2020 3:43 PM CST
That water doesn't look good. Is that clay that you have?
"Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better."~Albert Einstein

Peonny
May 21, 2020 4:44 PM CST
@anyagoro - I am in Zone 4. I apologize for mentioning Zone 3 earlier. Based on videos and the picture I found, I think the ground level is currently right at the crown and it should be lower. I am going to add 1.5 to 2 inches of soil to raise the ground level and slope it to avoid water puddle. Please let me know your thought.

@Jasmin - thanks for the video, I will need to raised the ground level. Please another photo of the see of yellow leaf. Looks like sun burn?

Thumb of 2020-05-21/Peonny/ba01f7


Thumb of 2020-05-21/Peonny/a368ed

Name: LG
Nashvillle (Zone 7a)
Peonies Hummingbirder Hostas Region: Tennessee Butterflies Garden Photography
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Mieko2
May 22, 2020 6:43 AM CST

Moderator

I think Anya's point is very important. The drainage is not correct for growing peonies. I have soil that stays moist during the winter, and I have lost many plants because of this.

You need to correct the drainage as soon as possible. Yellow leaves are a prime indication of too much water.
LG - My garden grows with love and a lot of hard work.
[Last edited by Mieko2 - May 23, 2020 5:28 AM (+)]
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Name: Alex
Toronto, Ontario
Region: Canadian
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AlexUnder
May 22, 2020 9:34 AM CST
Totally agree with Anya and LG. You have to reconsider planting peonies so low, as Liz mentioned before. Fabric may helped to accumulate water from extreme rains, so better remove it for the time being and it has to be not a waterproof fabric, it should let the water pass. Yours could be a barrier that make it worse.
Yellowing of the leaves indicates too much water in your case.

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