What eats peony buds?

amulet(7b NC)May 5, 2005

I have noticed the buds on the two new peonies that I bought in pots this spring were eaten shortly after planting them. I did plant them in a new area, and nothing had been planted there before. These two peonies are the only peonies planted in this area. Any idea what eats peony buds? And how to stop them?

The whole buds were not eaten at once. They were eaten a small bit at a time over a period of days. The plants affected were Mons Jules Elie and Primevere (both fragrant).

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How tall were the plants when the buds were eaten? If an inch or two tall, probably baby bun-buns ie rabbits. At that size slugs and probably snails will put holes and bitelike marks in buds. I doubt if a deer because most will bite then spit out the whole thing rather than come back for another dinner. I lost a very anticipated seed head last year to some little devil with 1 inch hoofs.

There are some worms that can cause the problem also. But look under the leaves and on the stems for shiny areas.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2005 at 9:26PM
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amulet(7b NC)

The plants are about 1.5 feet tall. I did see a bunny near those peonies today, but I don't think they could reach this high.
I'm thinking it must be some type of insect or something. I didn't see any shiny areas, but it did rain before I could get out
to check. I took a picture of one of the buds so you could see what I was talking about.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2005 at 7:30PM
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I just planted a peony 2 days ago. It has 3 buds on it. When I was edging around it, I saw a couple of brown ants on the buds, BITING, I'm doing research on this too.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2005 at 10:16PM
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Vikk(8b sunset 10)

This evening I found two delicate leaf-green insects on my peony flower. I knocked them off and am going out again in a bit (it's midnight) to check on it again with a flashlight. I have no idea what they are ... I am new to this pest thing.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2005 at 2:05AM
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Vikk(8b sunset 10)

I really wish I knew what your problem is. Something is causing the rest of my dozen plus buds to "fade." They were stronger earlier but now that I have my first two blooms they seem to be turning a little brown and shrinking, if that's possible???

    Bookmark   May 9, 2005 at 3:37PM
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jenny_in_se_pa(USDA7 Sunset 32)

In both your cases, it could be the early onset of botrytis, a fungal disease that often attacks peonies just before and during bloom. It seems to be exasperated by rainy springs. Usually the recommendations are to remove any infected foliage and stems and there are some fungicides labeled for use against this - again, if this is what you both may be seeing.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cornell Botrytis fact sheet

    Bookmark   May 10, 2005 at 9:33AM
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Vikk(8b sunset 10)

I must have been overwatering. I stopped the every two days or more watering about a week ago but I think the damage is done. I'll keep an eye out for actual symptoms but right now the other eight or nine buds look like they are not going to open. I cannot imagine it getting better. Thank you each for the posting and the information respectively--very helpful.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2005 at 4:27PM
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jazzmom516(Zone 7 LI, NY)

There are two things that can destroy peony buds before they open. One is botrytis, a fungal disease that turns the stems and buds brown. The buds just wither away. The second culprit are thrips. A very small rasping insect. Google insect pests on peonies for more information.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2005 at 4:40PM
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amulet(7b NC)

Anyone know what this worm is? I wonder if this is what is eating the buds. I have seen the same type damage again this year on Coral Charm. Thanks! Amulet

    Bookmark   April 1, 2006 at 11:24AM
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I don't know exactly what it is, but I've seen similar (although greener) worms on my roses in late spring here. They eat leaves and gnaw on buds, sometimes kind of tunneling through the buds.

Show no mercy and take no prisoners!

    Bookmark   April 8, 2006 at 9:07AM
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please help - my peony buds look just like amulet's. what is causing this - have called a local nursery and googled but have found no answers.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 12:17PM
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amulet(7b NC)


In my case it is those worms that were eating my peony buds. I have seen them in the tunneled out peony buds since I've posted in this thread. Wow. It has been a while (4 years). It is definitely those worms that did the damage, but I do not have an id for the worms, though. If anyone knows, I'd be curious to find out.

What area of the country are you in gardengirl? I am in Zone 7 NC.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 4:30PM
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I also have had those worms but looking at the damage in your post on another group it was done some time ago. There is nothing you can do this year except look for any worms on buds that have not been eaten. Next year start watching your buds sooner. Anything sprayed on the buds at this late date will have no effect on the buds and what ever has eaten them is probably long gone or there would be fresh damage/

    Bookmark   May 4, 2010 at 1:08AM
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