Photo: Max Westby
Many of us in the Midwest are planting even more peonies than ever because they are deer resistant. However, these easy-care plants do have some problems. One is buds that never develop into blooms.
If plants are growing in wet shady sites or there is too much rain in a season, a fungal blight may be the culprit.
If there is fuzzy grey mold on the buds or they are brown, always cut the infected stems off at the ground and discard them. Do not put them in the compost, as this practice will spread the disease. Remember to wipe the garden shears with alcohol to clean them.
Sometimes a late spring frost may cause buds to turn dark and not bloom and this is referred to as bud blast. Again, cut off the affected parts of the plant if this occurs and also get a soil test to see if there is a potassium deficiency.
Fall is the best time to divide peony plants and also to cut down the foliage, which makes it easier to divide the plants. Dig up the entire root clump and divide the clump into a number of sections ensuring that each section has 3 eyes. Replant the extra clumps in other locations, making sure that they are no deeper than 1.5 inches. Peonies will not bloom if they are planted too deeply.
Note: Ants do not harm peony buds or flowers, but be sure to shake peony stems after you pick them to be sure ants are not carried into the house.