Home Peony Care Spotted Peony Leaves: Causes, Prevention, and Treatment

Spotted Peony Leaves: Causes, Prevention, and Treatment

by Gregory
4 minutes read

Peonies: Identifying and Preventing Spotted Leaves

Peonies are beloved garden plants known for their beautiful flowers and lush foliage. However, they can sometimes develop spots on their leaves, which can be caused by various factors, including fungal diseases and pests.

Causes of Spotted Peony Leaves

Fungal Diseases:

  • Leaf Blotch: Red to purple blotches on leaves, often accompanied by curled or twisted foliage.
  • Gray Mold: Brown to black spots on foliage and flower petals, with fluffy gray spores appearing in advanced stages.
  • Phytophthora Leaf Blight: Black, leathery spots on leaves and buds, with large, watery lesions on new shoots and stems.


  • Foliar Nematodes: Wedge-shaped, yellow to purple spots on foliage, confined to areas between major leaf veins.

Other Causes:

  • Powdery mildew
  • Viral diseases (e.g., peony ringspot, Le Moine disease, mosaic virus, leaf curl)

Preventing Spotted Peony Leaves

Preventing Fungal Diseases:

  • Apply fungicides preventatively in early spring.
  • Clean garden tools and plant debris regularly with a solution of water and bleach.
  • Remove and destroy fallen leaves and stems that may harbor fungal spores.
  • Water plants slowly and directly at the root zone to avoid splashing spores onto foliage.

Preventing Foliar Nematodes:

  • Keep the garden clean of weeds and plant debris.
  • Avoid overwatering, as wet soil can encourage nematode populations.
  • Consider using beneficial nematodes to control foliar nematodes.

Managing Viral Diseases:

Unfortunately, there are no treatments for viral diseases in peonies. Infected plants must be dug up and destroyed to prevent the spread of infection.

Diagnosing Spotted Peony Leaves

To diagnose the cause of spotted peony leaves, consider the following:

  • Leaf Blotch: Red to purple blotches, often appearing in mid to late summer.
  • Gray Mold: Brown to black spots, particularly in cool, wet weather.
  • Phytophthora Leaf Blight: Black, leathery spots, especially in wet weather or heavy clay soil.
  • Foliar Nematodes: Wedge-shaped spots, most common in late summer to fall.
  • Powdery Mildew: White, powdery growth on leaves and stems.
  • Viral Diseases: Discolored or distorted leaves, often accompanied by stunted growth or flower malformations.

Treatment Options

Fungal Diseases:

  • Apply fungicides according to label instructions.
  • Remove and destroy infected leaves and stems.
  • Improve air circulation around plants by pruning or spacing them properly.

Foliar Nematodes:

  • Use beneficial nematodes to control populations.
  • Remove and destroy infected leaves.
  • Avoid overwatering.

Viral Diseases:

  • Dig up and destroy infected plants to prevent the spread of disease.
  • Practice good sanitation to avoid contamination.

Tips for Healthy Peonies

  • Choose disease-resistant peony varieties.
  • Plant peonies in well-drained soil with plenty of sunlight.
  • Water regularly, especially during dry spells.
  • Fertilize peonies in early spring and fall.
  • Divide overgrown peony clumps every 3-5 years.

By following these tips, you can help prevent and manage spots on peony leaves, ensuring the health and beauty of your beloved garden plants.

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