What makes a peony abort its blooms?

gardeningfan(z5bMa)June 18, 2005

I have a peony that I have been waiting to see bloom for 3 years. I actually planted it 3 summers ago. It got one bud this summer but than it turned black and dried up. It is in my perennial bed and I have one plant that is touching it but not shading it. I have another peony that started out with blooms and they never developed. I think they are getting plenty of sun. I have them planted with roses and the roses are doing great. We had a hot spell where we had unseasonably hot, humid weather for about 6 days. Could that have done it? What could be wrong? I was sooo looking forward to the blooms. BooHoo. Maybe next year.

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jenny_in_se_pa(USDA7 Sunset 32)

We had that same hot spell and mine bloomed fine, albeit, for a much shorter time.

Sometimes it takes that long for them to be mature enough to sustain a bloom. Alternately they might be planted a bit too deep (shouldn't be more than 2" below the surface) or they might have botrytis, a disease that can impact the flower bud. Usually you'll see signs of it on the leaves and stems as well, with them appearing unhealthy and wilty.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2005 at 5:00PM
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Everything else on the plants looks very healthy. The one that had several buds actually bloomed last year though it was only one bloom but oh what a glorious bloom it was. So do you still think maturity is still a factor? I am so disappointed. I was careful when I planted them to not plant them deeper than the top of the soil ball. A friend of mine gave me a huge bowl of peonies when I had my third baby and absolutley fell in love with them. It is really frustrating to me that I am having trouble growing a plant that is supposed to be easy to grow. I will double check to see if they are planted to deep.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2005 at 10:38PM
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jenny_in_se_pa(USDA7 Sunset 32)

It could be that the peony has sunk down a bit deeper than when originally planted as the soil settled or if there was mulch or leaf litter in or around them, that might have piled up over time to increase the depth. I grew up with some peonies that my mother had but over the years, they apparently sunk deeper and deeper and were increasingly shaded by what is now a 35ft tall pine tree that we had planted back in the late '60s, and they eventually stopped coming up and disappeared.

It can be frustrating because you say - "Maybe next year... " and the next year comes and it's disappointment. Another thought is that the original plant had a bare minimum of eyes and has been spending all this time forming more. Hopefully it's a simple problem.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2005 at 7:20PM
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Peony_Grower(z6 MW)

Why do the buds on my peony sometimes turn black and dry up early in the season?
Likely the buds have been damaged by frost or a fungal infection.

What you describe is often called bud blast. It can be caused by environmental conditions at a critical stage of development such as frost or drought. It can also be caused by a fungal attack, usually during cold wet periods. In these cases the problem is unlikely to be repeated the following year and the plant will likely continue to thrive.

If the problem happens next year you might also suspect a nutritional problem, likely not enough potassium, too much shade or that the plant is planted too deeply. All of these are correctable by either adding fertilizer or moving the plant to a more suitable location in the case of shade or planting to deeply.

Bud blast often occurs in newly planted peonies. Peonies form their buds in the fall. If a plant is divided and replanted in the fall (as it should be) the previously formed buds will continue their growth in the spring on a much-reduced root system. Often the newly divided plant does not have the "strength" to fully develop all the buds and they just dry up. As the plant matures this problem disappears.

Here is your solution for the problem:
1. Get the roses relocated way from the Peonies or at least feed the roses with a balanced rose food so that they do not suck the nutruients from the peonies.
2. Cut back other vegatation to allow at least 6 hours of good full sun on the peonies. Shade only weakens them, also the uv light will kill fungis that might be effecting them.
3. Dig a circle around the peonies working in tword the roots. when you come to the roots, dig under them a little ways. Now fill this up with WELL DECAYED compost with a 5-10-5 or a 10-10-10 fertilizer mixture. About 1 to 2 cups of fertilizer. Bone meal may also be used, as it is 5-10-5 equivelent. NEVER4. Scrape away the soil at the crown and check the depth. It should be 1 to 2 inches. If it is too deep the peony will not bloom at all, Bud Blast ocurrs to the blooms and eyes, therefore I dought the peony is too deep or it would not produce buds or blooms, but check it anyway and correct the depth if needed.
5. Water the peony several times in the winter. DO NOT water the crown, but rather water around the crown staying at least 6 inches away and allowing the water to soak downward to the roots. Watering the crown causes fungis and crown rot.
6. Refertilise after blooming and in the fall with 5-10-10 or 5-10-5 and bone beal working it in from the top of the soil every year, and add compost to the ring every year in the fall with the fertiliser.

On a new 1 to 3 eye division the roots will grow about six inches the first year, and an additiona 12 the secound year. At the end of the third year the plant will be mature and can then be divided if one wants to dive it.

You are in PA and the growing conditions are exelent there for peonies. Take these measures and you will have some real nice blooms next spring.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2005 at 9:27AM
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Peony_Grower(z6 MW)


    Bookmark   June 20, 2005 at 9:45AM
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Thank you so much for all the wonderful information. Would bud blast effect 2 plants in 2 different areas? I guess what I am asking is does it typically infect 1 plant at a time or does it infect more? I have a feeling it is because of bud blast or they are getting to much shade. These beds are full with compost and the dirt is wonderful so I don't think it is a nutritional problem. I will check the depth of them and thanks for clarifing what you meant by NEVER

    Bookmark   June 26, 2005 at 5:28PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

Peony Grower has given very good information. Note that the fertilizer he suggests has a lower nitrogen number. This is important but often over looked when selecting fertilizer, the majority of which are heavy on the nitrogen. Al

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 9:34AM
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