Q: When I grew up in Michigan, my mother had peonies that bloomed without trouble. I dug up some of the roots and brought them to Georgia. I have been unsuccessful in getting them to flower. They flourish in the springtime but before they bloom the leaves break out in dark patches and the buds turn black and fall off.
A: Your peonies have either leaf blotch, phytophthora blight or botrytis blight. Without going into how to distinguish between the three, all can be controlled by planting in well-drained soil, removing diseased plant parts when seen and replacing mulch each fall. In addition, provide good air circulation and avoid wetting the leaves when watering.