May I ask for a little guidance? I'm usually on the rose, grasses and classic threads forums, but I have a problem I cannot find the answer to on this forum, a Google search, or the Heartland Peony site. My peony buds are exhibiting a thin brown coating, as you can see in the picture. Last year it was only Ann Cousins, but this year it is all of them (Festiva Maxima, Kansas, Cornelia Shaylor, Mrs. FDR, and Ann Cousins). Once the peonies open they seem fine, but the coating is unsightly. I sprayed "Ann" with a fungicide but it made no difference. I also peeled the coating (VERY CAREFULLY) from some, but if anyone could give me some guidance on what causes it, and prevent it, I would be very grateful.
Donna, it's been a wet year (at least in Iowa), not the best for peonies. They are just prematurely starting to rot a bit before they open. Or at least, that's what I think is going on. You might want to write to a peony grower and ask them what they think? Next year, hopefully, will be a better peony year. :)
Diann. I went to a wonderful expert, who thought, without a photo, that it was botrytis. It's not, and I figured out what it is!
I started flipping through the pages of Rodale’s Complete Garden Problem Solver and found the following (my comments are in parentheses):
PROBLEM: Buds do not open, or they open partially (yes). Brown edges or streaks mar light colored buds and flowers (yes).
CAUSE: Flower thrips (Franliniella ritici). These extremely tiny, narrow-bodies insects and only 1/20 inch long. Young thrips are lemon yellow. Adults are light brown with orange undersides. Thrips hide deep inside peony flowers and are almost impossible to see on plants without using a magnifying glass. If you suspect that a flower has thrips, pick a damaged flower and shake it over a clean sheet of white paper. If thrips are present, they will drop onto the paper and will look like dark specks. These pests injure only peony flowers (which explains why my stems and leaves look wonderful) and their feeding can ruin the flowers.
WHAT TO DO:
Destroy infested buds and flowers.
Use insecticidal soap, following directions.
Keep plants adequately watered and mulched to keep soil moist but not soggy.
Apply loose, organic mulch to attract beneficial spiders.
Attract other beneficial insects by planting nectar and pollen plants, such as alyssum, yarrow, and scabiosa.
Purchase lacewings and beneficial nematodes from mail-order suppliers, and release these beneficials in the garden.
Actually, I think I will use my baking soda and insecticidal soap, and that should take care of any problems.
Thank you for responding. I appreciated your support.
Wow, you're good. :) I'll remember that next year if I have problems like that. I still think mine was because it rained too much about the time everything wanted to bloom... All mine opened, they just looked ratty within a day or so of opening because of so much rain and then heat...
Keep me posted on how your peony does next year! :)
That interests me too because my peonies and roses do the same thing. The roses are susceptable to balling in the first place, but the humid mornings seemed to be the cause. I always walk around with a notebook in the spring, recording blooming flowers. I'll be sure to shake a few flowers next spring!
As my peonies continue to open, I'll send more pictures. Suzy, acephate is a substance in Ortho products that works on thrips, Japanese beetles and aphids (look for it on the label). I really prefer to use natural substances but Neem didn't work - the top picture in this thread shows the results using neem. I actually used insecticidal soap (on the flower buds themselves - the thrips aren't interested in the leaves) every 3-4 days as the buds started to expand. The acephate, one application, again sprayed on the buds only, was a backup. Acephate is systemic, meaning that it enters the leaves and stems and stays there. The thrips do their damage, by entering the flower buds and chewing. So there is no need to apply it to the whole plant. For me chemicals are a last resort, when botanic substances don't work. Last year the thrips ruined ALL of my peonies. I like this much better!
Mrs. FDR is a MUST HAVE! It's widely available, inexpensive, and very easy to grow. I love the fact that it starts very cupped, as in the picture above, and then expands into elegant fluffballs. Because it's widely available, you can probably get one that will bloom for you the year after planting.
Donna, don't you just love Mrs. FDR when she first begining to pop and then when she is in her full glory. I need to remember to stake her, Ann Cousins, Shirley Temple and all the ones with no names I have in that bed... Here fragrance is wonderfull too. Keep them coming! :)
Wow! I have Ann Cousins too! That was the first peony I truly had to stake, and she is the one with the damage at the top of this thread. As for the fabulous Mrs. FDR, I agree. We have had several downpours and it makes the peonies incredibly blowsy and sumptuous.
Kansas is starting to bloom, as is Ann Cousins. I'll keep sending them!
Okay, My peony list is too long now, and I need to refine it. As you (you in general, meaning photo posters) post pics, could you tell us more about them, please? Things like if they are fragrant or not? If they have side buds? If they need to be staked? That is said with a BIG PLEASE and THANK YOU.
Ann Cousins, Shirley Temple, Mrs. FDR, Prince of Darkness, Myrtle Tischler, Festiva Maxima, Mons Martin Cahuzac, Mons. Jules Elie, basically all the old doubles our grandmothers and great grandmothers had in their gardens smell wonderful, and need to be staked.
Silver Shell, Raspberry Sundae, Nippon Beauty, Port Royale, Krinkled White, Pink Princess, Prairie Afire, Do Tell, Firebird, Diana Parks, Gold Standard, Buckeye Bell, Roselette, Double Fernleaf, do not need to be staked, some have heavy fragrance others have light fragrance...
This is why I suggest going to visit a peony nursery so that you can look and smell for yourself. :)