A peony plant is a bright and colorful perennial addition to any flower garden. Established plants are easy to care for and will bloom for many years. These plants can be divided carefully to produce more plants for your garden. You may find, however, that occasionally your peony will produce buds that do not open and eventually drop from the bush. There are several factors that affect peony bud formation and blooming.
The peony thrives best in direct sunlight for at least four to six hours per day. The peony buds may fail to open with too much shade. A hard frost in the spring can also ruin the newly formed buds. Dry summers with little rain can result in fewer blooms for the next spring. Conversely, standing water around a peony may rot the plant at the top, causing the buds to drop.
The peony should be planted in soil with a pH of 6.5 to 7. The eyes of the tuber should rest about 1 to 2 inches beneath the soil. Plants that are immature or too old may not produce blooms at all. A mature plant can be divided and planted to aid bud formation. Crowded plants also may not bloom, so each peony tuber needs space for the roots to grow.
Phosphorous and potassium are especially important to peony plant health and bud formation. However, over-fertilizing the plant with a nitrogen-based fertilizer will produce lush foliage but few buds. A peony plant uses up a great deal of soil nutrients; therefore, it is especially important to enrich the soil with compost so that the peony will form new buds and bloom.
A peony plant can be susceptible to leaf blotch and botrytis blight. Botrytis blight can occur during a wet spring and will spot and decay the newly formed buds, causing them to drop. Diseased plants should be removed and new growth sprayed with a fungicide. Leaf blotch appears when the environment is warm and moist and causes purple leaf spots, defoliation and bud dropping. An initial fungicide application will get rid of leaf blotch.