Plant Care

Why are Peony Leaves Turning Yellow? (Here Is The Answer)

Peonies are famous ornamental plants that are easy to maintain in pots or in your garden, however yellow leaves can appear because of many reasons. So why are peony leaves turning yellow?

Peony leaves can turn yellow for a variety of reasons including: overwatering, lack of sunlight, nutrient deficiency, diseases and pests.

Reasons Peony Leaves Turn Yellow
1. Overwatering
2. Lack of Sunlight
3. Nutrient Deficiency
4. Diseases
5. Pests

1. Overwatering

When peony leaves turn yellow the most common cause is overwatering. This leads to waterlogging of the soil and rotting of the peony root system. As a result, it will prevent peonies from absorbing the necessary nutrients from the soil making the peony leaves and shoots yellow.

When the leaves of a peony or other similar plant are turning yellow regularly, it is likely that the plant has been overwatered or that the substrate or soil does not provide adequate drainage.

It is recommended to use soil that has good organic matter and good drainage. Peonies do not need too much watering . On the other hand, in times of drought, when the temperatures are particularly high, it is advisable to bring them water so that the soil is moist.

Being moisture-loving, peonies demand regular watering as soon as spring arrives . Ideally, it should be twice a week, and always moisten both the base of the plant and its surroundings. We will maintain this pattern of water during the summer months.

Rainwater can be more than enough. Moreover, collect this rainwater to water your plants in the garden and indoors. Don’t hesitate to protect the soil with mulch. This technique preserves moisture and fights weeds .

During the winter, the ideal is a single weekly irrigation and always more scarce than in the sunny months.

2. Lack of Sunlight

Due to the lack of sunlight, the leaves of the peonies begin to turn yellow because the amount of chlorophyll decreases and the plant struggles to do photosynthesis. As a rule, the lower leaves, (because they are less illuminated), as well as the stems become thinner and the flowers become smaller.

Peony need a certain amount of light to grow properly and if they are not receiving enough light which is fundamental for photosynthesis will cause the leaves to turn yellow and fall.

In order to enjoy their wonderful flowering, it is essential that they receive a good amount of daily light.

By examining peonies, you can determine whether it has enough sunlight or needs artificial light.

Peonies should be in a place protected from the wind, well lit by the sun. Perfect, for example, the south or southeast side of the garden.

And with this we speak of nothing less than a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight a day. Of course: it is recommended that the sun does not directly shine on them in the peak hours of the day, since it can burn their flowers.

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3. Nutrient Deficiency

Another reason why peonies can present a yellowing of its leaves is that it do not obtain the necessary nutrients from the soil, or they are not present in the right proportions.

Yellowing leaves can be an indication of a general nutrient deficiency. The lack of essential minerals, such as nitrogen, magnesium and iron, can be the cause of why peony leaves are turning yellow. 

It may happen that the pH of the soil is too high (alkaline), or the necessary nutrients: iron, manganese and nitrogen do not exist.

The nutrient deficiency can affect in different ways: the leaves turn yellow completely, in spots or from the edges.

If you do not fertilize the potted peony, the peony will cause malnutrition, which will also cause the leaves to shrivel and wilt. 

Apply fertilizer on the ground, but do not fertilize the potted peony, which will make the yellow and withered situation more serious.

Try to find the exact problem so the leaves can return to their healthy green color:

Peony Nutrient DeficiencySymptomsHow to treat nutrient deficiency
1.Nitrogen deficiencyYoung peony leaves first turn pale (acquire a pale green color), then turn completely yellow.Water the peonies with a solution of 30 g of urea per bucket of water.
2. Potassium deficiencyOld lower leaves of peony turn yellow at the edges and dries out entirely.Apply potassium sulfate (potassium sulfate) or potassium nitrate at the rate of 1 tablespoon per 10 liters of water per 1 square meter.
3. Iron deficiencyYellowing starts from the edges of young peony upper leaves but the veins remain green.Apply fertilizer that contains iron chelates to allow the plant to absorb the iron much better.
4. Manganese deficiencyThe lower old leaves are first affected, which turn yellow from the edges to the middle of the peony leaf, while the veins remain green (as with iron deficiency) .Water the peonies with manganese sulfate (2 grams per liter of water).
This table refers to the nutrient deficiency of peonies which lead to yellow leaves.

4. Diseases


Rust is the most common disease affecting peonies. It is caused by spores of a fungus that infects leaves characterized by the appearance of yellowish-brown, orange or reddish spots on both sides of the leaves. 

It mostly appears in the second half of summer. Affected leaves usually curl and dry quickly, and the peonies lose their decorative effect. 

If measures are not taken in time, it is very difficult to stop the spread of the disease: the spores of the fungus are easily carried by the wind, which leads to infection of other plants.

In order to save the affected peonies, and prevent the disease from spreading to new bushes, you need to start treatment on time. All affected leaves must be removed, and the plants should be treated weekly with a solution with 1% Bordeaux mixture.

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Verticillium wilt

Verticillium wilt refers to fungal diseases and affects peonies most often during the flowering period. With its development, the leaves, stems and flowers of the plant begin to quickly turn yellow, dry out and die.

This fungal disease most often affects peonies during the flowering period, penetrating inside the plant. The main sign of verticillium wilt is the wilting of leaves and stems for no apparent reason. The peony bush may seem healthy, but suddenly droops, quickly turns yellow, dries up and dies completely.

Since this disease manifests itself only a few years after planting, it is almost impossible to cure it. If spraying with a solution of fungicide does not work, the plants must be destroyed.

It is impossible to save the plant. It must be dug up and burned. The pit formed after digging up a diseased peony plant should be sprayed with bleach. 

Mosaic Virus

Ring spot (mosaic virus) is a viral disease that manifests itself on the leaves of peonies in the form of yellowish spots and strokes, usually in the form of rings or half-rings.

The main sign of infection is light green, yellow stripes or rings that appear on the plate and alternate with dark green. Affected leaves usually curl and dry quickly, and the peonies lose their decorative effect.

Leaf mosaic virus is a very insidious virus, because it can not infect all peony leaves. Part of the deciduous mass remains healthy, which greatly complicates the detection of the disease.

Due to the disease, plant growth is inhibited, the flowers turn pale and peonies bloom less intensively.

The disease is not treatable. Affected bushes must be removed and destroyed to prevent infection of other plants. Prevention of ring spot involves the control of insects that contribute to the spread of the virus.

5. Pests

In addition to the large number of diseases that peonies are exposed to, they are also affected by many pests.


Often peony turn yellow when damaged by aphids that suck the juices from the leaves. These small greenish insects always settle in their favorite places, the tops of the shoots or near the buds.

They feed on plant sap, form galls and distort flowers, leaves and buds. If the infestation is not too large, spray the aphids with cold water; if, on the contrary, the infestation is very serious, use a dedicated pesticide. 

Get rid of aphid eggs in the fall and winter.

Gall nematodes

Gall nematodes are small worms that live in the root system of plants. As a result of their activity, growths form on the peony roots, which prevent the peony from absorbing water and nutrients from the soil. As a consequence leaves turn yellow, the plant slows down in growth and dies.

To prevent the appearance of this dangerous pest, it is necessary to carefully select planting material, dig the soil deep before planting, and dispose of all plant debris when cleaning the site.

There is no cure for this disease. Unfortunately, there is nothing left but to remove the affected plants from the site and burn them so that the nematodes do not spoil other peony bushes.

How to Prevent Peony Leaves from Turning Yellow

  1. When preparing soil for planting in the spring, use slow-release fertilizers. This will allow the plant to be evenly supplied with nutrients over a longer period of time.
  2. Water less often but thoroughly, and thoroughly water again when necessary.
  3. If leaves turn yellow from lack of sunlight or excessive amounts of sunlight, rearrange pots to other windowsills or deep into rooms where plants are shaded by windows.
  4. Always provide sufficient planting distance from other plants and avoid shady and damp locations.
  5. As mentioned above, loosen up the soil with a solution of fungicides and insecticides before watering; if necessary add more fertilizer after watering.
  6. When your flower grows roots into clay soil, you will need to add fertilizer periodically throughout its life cycle.
Peony Care RequirementsDescription
1. WaterWater regularly (twice a week) as soon as spring arrives.
2. SoilShould be loose, permeable, alkaline and nutrient-rich.
4. Soil pHPeony needs a soil pH between 5.5 and 7.5.
3. LightA good amount of 6 hours of daily light.
4. TemperatureThey prefer a temperate climate with mild temperatures, they usually tolerate (moderately) intense cold and heat.
The growth temperature of the plant is a minimum of 0 ℃, but the optimum range is around 16-18 ℃.
5. FertilizerFertilize using mineral-rich natural fertilizers throughout the growing season every 2 to 3 years.
Fertilizing with yeast compounds, wood ash, chicken droppings, bone meal.
6. PlantingThe best time to plant peonies is in the fall or spring.
Plant the peony in nutrient-rich, moist and well-draining soil in full sun.
7. PottingThe potted peony is not at all suitable. Plant the peony in clumps, alone or along borders, in clumps 2 to 3 feet tall, but never in containers or planters.
8. PruningPrune herbaceous peonies to the ground in the fall. 
Tree peonies, on the other hand, do not need to be pruned .


Now you know why the leaves of peony are turning yellow, which means that you can quickly help your plant by adjusting the care, feeding or spraying from diseases and / or pests. Good luck and beautiful flowering to your peonies garden!

Is a peony with yellow leaves sick?

Not always, yellowing can have many causes. These include too much or too little water and fertilizer, too little light, too dense planting or an unsuitable location for roses. A wrong cut can also lead to yellow leaves if the rose neglects individual shoots and these die off. 
If all of these causes are excluded, yellow rose leaves can indicate diseases or pests.

Andreea Tapu

Andreea TAPU is a passionate gardener with over 5 years of experience in cultivating a wide variety of plants and flowers in her garden. As the author and creator of, she is dedicated to sharing her knowledge and expertise with others, providing practical tips and advice to help gardeners of all levels achieve success and enjoyment in their gardening pursuits.