8 Reasons Your Peony Plant is Turning Brown & Fixes

A peony on the article peony turning brown

Peony is a hardy, long-lived perennial. However, peonies’ leaves can turn brown if specific requirements are not met or if certain pests have attacked them.

So, if your peony is turning brown and you’re concerned and looking for answers, don’t worry because we know why your plant is behaving this way.

A peony when faced with prolonged periods of insufficient watering and exposure to temperatures above 32C, the leaves may scorch and the tips may start turning brown.

Also, too much watering and improper drainage can lead to root rot and browning of leaves. Finally, over-fertilizing of the peony can burn the plant’s leaves, turning them yellow and then brown.

If you want to learn more about fixing your peony’s browning issues, then keep on reading.

Why is my Peony Plant Turning Brown?

A peonyPeony plants produce large, fragrant flowers in various colors, shapes, and sizes. These hardy, long-lived perennial shrubs (some up to 100 years) have a long history as garden plants.

Peonies are classified as trees, Itoh (intersectional), or herbaceous (bush). Tree peonies can grow four to seven feet tall and four to five feet broad. Itoh and herbaceous variants reach a height and width of 1 to 3 feet.

Peonies are not picky but choose your location carefully because they dislike disturbance and do not transplant well.

Peonies prefer full sun, and while they can tolerate partial shade, they bloom best in a sunny location that receives 6 to 8 hours of sunlight per day.

Because of their large blooms, peonies can become top-heavy in strong winds. Planting too close to trees or shrubs is not recommended because peonies dislike competing for food, light, and moisture.

Peonies thrive in fertile, humus-rich, moist soil that drains well. The pH of the soil should be neutral.

Following are some of the causes why your Peony plant may be turning brown:

1) Root issues

Peony leaves can turn brown if there isn’t enough water getting to the roots. This can be caused by not watering your peonies sufficiently, having too many weeds near the base of the plant, or having clayey soil that prevents water from flowing freely.

The plant will begin to droop if there isn’t enough water. When they don’t get enough water regularly, the tips of the leaves turn brown, and the brown area becomes dry and crumbly.

How to fix it

Once a week, water Peonies with 1 inch (2.5cm) of water around the base. If the soil appears to be drying out in sweltering weather, water them every two days or more.

To keep the soil moist, add a layer of mulch around the base of the plant.

2) Not enough sunlight:

The sun provides energy to the plant and dries the leaves, reducing the risk of diseases that cause the leaves to become brown.

However, the amount of sunlight will not directly cause the leaves to turn brown. Peonies, mainly herbaceous peonies, might perish if maintained in full shade. The leaves will first turn brown before dropping off as they die.

Different levels of sunlight are required by the two species of peony. Tree peonies that keep their stalks require full sun or semi-shade all day.

However, they must be kept out of the sun in the morning. Tree peonies require at least 6 hours of sunlight per day.

How to fix it

Replant herbaceous peonies in areas where they will receive 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. Replant tree peonies in semi-shade to full sun, but not in the morning.

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3) Diseases- leaf blotch and blackspot

Multiple diseases can affect only the peony plant but also can spread to others nearby. Leaf blotch is the most common of the diseases to affect peonies, but powdery mildew, black spot, and fusarium can also occur.

Leaf blotch begins as brown spots on the leaves and, if left untreated, expands and spreads to other leaves.

Blackspot appears on the leaves as dark brown/black spots surrounded by a lighter brown area.

Powdery mildew and other types of mold enter the environment through mold spores that settle on the leaves and grow, sucking out all the nutrients and turning the leaves brown.

Increasing airflow dries out mold and diseases, preventing them from spreading.

Fusarium is a fungus that grows in the soil and can go dormant for a long time. However, because the only symptom is brown and wilting leaves, it’s difficult to tell if this is what’s causing browning.

How to fix it

Mist the plant with a mixture of neem oil and water. Avoid getting water on the leaves when watering as this can help the disease spread.

Trim affected areas and discard them so that the disease will not spread to other plants. Remove weeds and prune nearby plants to improve airflow. If it persists, replant them in new soil that is fusarium-free.

4) Poorly draining soil

A peonyPeonies require a soil pH of 6.5 to 7.0. Water cannot penetrate deep into the roots of tree peonies due to poor drainage. A change in pH affects which nutrients are available in the soil.

When the pH of the soil falls outside the range of 6.5 to 7.0, the nutrients that peonies require are depleted.

Water also aids the roots in absorbing and transporting nutrients throughout the plant. A peony plant will suffer from a lack of nutrients and water if water does not reach all the way down to the roots.


Replant the peonies in loose, free-draining soil that is dark Brown. If the pH is higher than 7.0, add sulfur. If the pH is less than 6.5, use limestone-based products, also known as lime.

5) Pest insects

Peonies are relatively pest-free. They can, however, make a home on peonies and begin to deplete the vital nutrients.

Fortunately, pests are simple to identify and treat. Spider-web-like structures on the underside of the leaves bump on the stems, and a brown/black crumbly residue forming on the plant are the most obvious signs.

The bumps are the bodies of scale insects that latch on to the plant and feed on its nutrients. Mealybugs are small white insects that produce white silk.

In addition, mealybugs leave brown spots on the leaves where they have sucked the nutrients.

On the other hand, Scale insects sap the nutrients from the plant over time, weakening it. And in large numbers, they can completely destroy a peony.

How to fix it:

Spray the plant with insecticidal spray or neem oil after sunset. Replant them in fresh soil if you notice a large outbreak in the soil.

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6) Too many nutrients

The consistency of good peony soil is that of compost from a garden supply store. It is not usually necessary to add additional fertilizer.

Some plants benefit from additional fertilizer, but too much can have the reverse effect and harm the roots.

This reduces the number of nutrients that peonies can absorb and causes the leaves to create yellow spots before turning Brown. Some of the leaves have turned brown, while others have yellow spots that haven’t yet turned brown.

How to fix it

Replant them in fresh soil with the consistency of store-bought compost. Add no additional fertilizers, allowing the soil to balance itself.

7) Herbicide damage

Herbicide damage can be difficult to detect, but twisting, deformed, or twisted growth is a common symptom. Some herbicides can cause discolored or dead spots on leaves.

How to fix it

Reduce the amount of herbicide you’re giving to remove the weeds. If you’re aiming at other adjacent weeds, keep the herbicide confined to the weeds only.

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8) Temperature changes

Peonies that are subjected to extended times of insufficient water and temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit may develop leaf scorch or browning of the leaf tips and margins.

How to fix it

Plant peonies in full sun to partial shade and fast-draining soil to avoid cultural damage. Plant peonies away from the hottest parts of your garden.

Final Thoughts

A peonyPeonies are hard-lived perennial shrubs that produce large fragrant, colorful flowers. However, peony leaves can turn brown if there isn’t enough water getting to the roots.

Too little sunlight can also turn the leaves brown. Leaf blotch is the most common of the diseases to cause browning peonies, but powdery mildew, black spot, and fusarium can also occur.

Poor draining soil, too many nutrients, and too high temperatures leading to scorching and pest infestation are also some of the causes that can lead to the browning of the leaves.

Ensure adequate watering to the soil, place the plant in partial to full shade, and use a fungicide to remove the fungal infestation.

Also, ensure the water adequately drains through the pot and does not stand there. Higher temperatures should also be controlled to prevent the browning of the plant’s leaves which can inevitably lead to the death of the plant.

About the Author:

Saad Ansar

Saad is an avid gardener himself and is a great lover of plants, animals, photography, & people. Currently, he is focused on photographing indoor plants & captioning beautiful

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