Why a Peony Is Not Flowering


According to the Missouri Botanical Garden, the phrase “peony bud burst” often refers to the inability of peony buds to develop as a result of cultural issues or a fungal disease such as botrytis blight. Peonies (Paeonia spp.) are able to survive in USDA plant hardiness zones 3 to 8, but they thrive in zones 5 to 7, where they normally bloom for seven to ten days in the late spring or summer. Peonies are classified as a genus of flowering plants known as Paeonia. If the buds do not develop at all or if they do form but perish before opening, this is an indication that there is an issue with the planting, maintenance, or general health of the plant.

Diagnosing Peony Bud Blast

It is possible that poor growth conditions or illnesses such as botrytis are to blame for a lack of flowering in peonies. In the case of peonies, bud blast brought on by botrytis blight will cause the buds to become brown and papery, while bud blast brought on by a cold snap in the spring would cause the buds to become red. In either scenario, the growth of the buds will come to an end when they reach a size comparable to that of a big garden pea. The shrub will not generate any buds at all if it is subjected to environmental stresses such as drought, inadequate fertiliser, or an inadequate amount of light.

Peony bud blast may be reversed with the right mix of preventive care and treatment, but in some cases, the shrub will need to be completely transplanted into a better growth environment in order to produce blooms. According to the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, replanting a peony shrub can resolve the majority of problems; however, the process of replanting can extend the amount of time it takes for the shrub to bloom by an additional two to three years while it becomes established in its new location.

Peony Growing Conditions

According to the research conducted by the Cooperative Extension Service of North Carolina State University, peonies need a minimum of six hours of sunlight every day. If at all feasible, you should prune back the foliage that is around the peony in order to increase the amount of light that reaches it. If there is an issue with a peony not generating buds in a location that receives less than four hours of sunshine each day, you may have to move the shrub to a location that receives more sunlight in order to coax it into flowering. Avoid planting in heavy shadow.

Peonies thrive in well-drained, fertile soil that also has a high capacity for holding onto moisture. Avoid planting in beds that have poor soil that is either marshy or dry. The Kansas State University Cooperative Extension Service suggests fertilising peonies with 3 to 4 ounces of a fertiliser with a ratio of 1-1-1 each year. Half of the fertiliser should be applied in the spring, just after the new growth emerges, and the other half should be applied in the fall, after the plants have gone dormant. This will encourage blooming. It is important to apply the fertiliser to soil that is damp in order to protect the shrub’s delicate root system.

Treating Botrytis in Peonies

Botrytis is a fungal disease that thrives in damp environments; it attacks young shoots when they are between 5 and 8 inches tall, causing the shoots to rot and die. The immature buds become a dark brown colour and wither away, while the larger buds eventually turn black and fall off. According to the Missouri Botanical Garden, an infection may impact more than ninety percent of the peony’s buds in a plant that is seriously infected. The majority of botrytis infections may be avoided by using good cultural practises, however sometimes these practises are not sufficient and the shrub will need to be transferred.

Applying a fungicide application to the shrub as soon as the new growth appears in the spring can help protect it against illness. Reapply the treatment every two weeks until the middle of June, when the weather will begin to warm up and dry up. In the fall, using sterilised shears, cut the whole plant down to the ground level. It is best to preserve the shrub throughout the winter months by surrounding it with a layer of mulch that is between one and two inches thick; this may also help reduce bud loss that is caused by the cold in the spring.

How to Transplant Peonies

After the plants have been pruned in the early fall, peonies should be planted in their new homes. Create a bed in a sunny spot that has enough drainage and set it up. The soil should be worked to a depth of 12 to 18 inches, and then a shovelful of compost should be added to enrich the soil. Once the peony has been moved from its initial location, it should be replanted such that the “eyes” or growth nodes are no deeper than 2 inches below the surface of the soil. According to Gardener’s Supply Company, the eye buds that are located on peony tubers must not be any lower than this in order for the peony to produce flowers.

After the plant has been transplanted, give it an inch of water once a week until the fall rains start falling. In addition to this, sprinkle a layer of mulch with a thickness of two inches around the base of the transplant to protect it over the winter. It will take a few years for a peony that has been transplanted to start flowering again. However, a peony that is planted in the right environment and given the necessary care may survive for more than 50 years, making the wait well worth it.