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Peony Leaves Curling [Causes & Easy Fixes]

Peony boasts profoundly lobed foliage that shade colors ranging from pink and purple to red, yellow, or white, but this beauty can get stigma through curling leaves. 

Conditions like underwatering, overwatering, too much light, overfeeding, root rotting, and pests and diseases can lead to Peony leaves curling. The curling of leaves is also a form of defense mechanism as well as an indication of plant sickness.

This condition in Peony is reversible entirely if we identify the causes and fix it in time. 

What Causes Peony Leaves to Curl? (Causes & Fixes)

Peony leaf blotch is one of the main causes of Peony leaves curling, which is initiated through Cladosporium Paeonia. The curling of leaves can damage the aesthetic look of Peonies. 

Even a single change in the growth situation can lead to curling, but there are other culprits.

1. Watering Issues  

Peony is a drought-tolerant perennial plant that prefers well-drained soil.

Peony plant has thick roots, which can absorb an appropriate amount of water. However, the roots can’t dive deeply into the soil, so it needs occasional watering. 

Peony plants require watering once a week in the summer and biweekly in winter. If you live in an area with a high chance of rainfall, the rainwater will be enough for your plant during the rainy season. 

If the top 2 inches of soil feel dry, it’s time to water your plant. 

Water the established Peony during the early spring to fuel the growth and develop good foliage. However, young Peony plants require frequent water until they are fixed well. 

The symptoms of underwatering are brown and crisp leaves, wilting, and dropping buds. 

Meanwhile, the symptoms of overwatering are leaves turning brown and mushy and the tubers getting damaged. You may also observe brown spots or black spots on the leaves.


The Peony plants are not profoundly rooted, so you can follow these simple tricks!

  • If you find your plant underwatered, water it generously with overhead drip pipes until water drips through drainage holes. Also, apply the bottom watering approach. 
  • If you observe the symptoms of overwater in plants, cut the water supply until the soil dries out and place it in a sunny spot for a while. 
  • Filtered water will be best for your plant as it contains the proper elements.  
  • Watering the Peonies early in the morning will be best for the plants to dry the water from the leaves. 
  • Water the plant in a proper schedule till the soil has drained the water from the bottom of the container. 

2. Lack of Shade  

Peonies thrive in six hours of bright and indirect sunlight. However, they prefer to be in the shade of the afternoon sunlight. 

Generally, they are placed in the insulated south-facing window indoors. In the winter, they are placed in the east-facing window to receive the proper light. 

Peony flowers
Peony flower blooming in the proper amount of sunlight

When it does not have enough light can lead to long dangly stems and few blossoms.

While excessive light can lead to water loss due to transpiration, causing the leaves to curl. 


  • Place your Peony in moist and shady places as they thrive on being in such places. 
  • It would help if you never planted Peonies around large growing trees. They will not receive the proper amount of light in the long run.
  • Keep the plant in the east-facing insulated window where it can get enough light. 
  • Grow the plants under taller plants so that they could act as an umbrella for the Peony. 

3. Extreme Temperature  

Peony is found in USDA hardiness zones 2-9 and extensive areas of Asia and Europe. They prefer to be around 32-40º F for their proper growth.

The plants grow and bloom at low temperatures with a touch of frost, making them even more attractive.

Peonies lack heat resistance capacity. Due to this, the leaves may end up curling, drooling, and wilting in extreme temperatures. 


  • Mist the plant and use shading cloths to protect it from the heat wave. 
  • The Peonies should have enough space for airflow to maintain proper temperature conditions, so place them in a ventilated room. 
  • Don’t mow the grass around the Peonies, as it will help to prevent excess temperature. 
  • If the Peonies are placed in the plastic pot, then transfer them to the larger terracotta pot to deal with the excess temperature.

Sometimes Peony flowers can also droop and die due to extreme temperatures. You may need to deadhead them then.

4. Lack of Nutrients

You should feed Peonies only during springtime, once a year. Cultivate them with mixed compost manure, a foot deep, before planting. 

They thrive in alkaline soil, with a pH capacity of 6.5 to 7.0.

If you want to add fertilizer, then nitrogen and phosphorus-rich fertilizers will be suitable for Peony. Also, adding a bone meal will boost calcium for your plant. 

However, if your Peony fails to receive enough food, its leaves may curl as a coping mechanism. 

The symptoms of lack of fertilization are brown and crisp leaves and curling leaves. Meanwhile, the symptoms of overfertilize in your plants are mushy and smelly roots and yellow leaves. 


  • They are heavy feeders, so it is critical to use the balanced NPK fertilizer so use the 10-10-10 fertilizer, to receive proper nutrition.
  • Also, using a bloom booster can help its flower to bloom properly. 
  • You can place a fertilizer pellet near the plants to promote the healthy growth of plants and prevent wilting. 
  • Ensure the roots and leaves are not exposed to fertilizer.  
  • Ensure to mist off the excess fertilizer with the slow drainage of water to prevent it from over-fertilization. 

5. Pests and Diseases 

Peonies are diseases and pests-resistant plants; however, several diseases will attack the plant.

The diseases which distress the Peony are associated with the lack of atmospheric movement and damp conditions. 

Some sap-sucking pests in the Peony produce honeydew covering the leaves in a sticky layer. You have to observe their presence closely, and their large numbers may lead to the slow death of the plant.

  • Scales: Yellow Leaves, Drooping leaves, and Reduced Growth. 
  • Aphids: Discoloration, Disfiguration, Light-Coloured Blooms, Bleached Leaves. 

Peonies are usually affected by the diseases below: 

  • Powdery Foliage: Affecting aesthetic look of Peonies 
  • Crown Gall: Overgrowth of tissue in the soil line or along the stems 
  • Botrytis (Phytophthora Blight): Infects the leaves, causing the area to be black
  • Nematodes: Stunted plant growth
Cladosporium paeonia causes the Peony leaf to blotch. There will be glossy purple and brown spots on the surface of their leaves. 

The symptoms will further lead to the rotting root and slow death of the plant. 


  • If you observe any pests in the leaves or stems of your plant, make sure to wash it down with a stream of water. 
  • Then handpick the pests and rub the infected area with sterilized q tips.
  • You can mix the neem oil with water and spray it in the pest infestation area. 
  • Warm water mixed with insecticidal soap will be best for dealing with pests. 
  • Further, you can use fungicides for 7-14 days, depending on the infestation observed in your plant. 
  • Maintain good air circulation and remove the infected plant parts. 
  • You have to maintain sanitation around the plant to prevent it from diseases and pests.  

6. Transplant Shock

Peonies are incredibly long-lived plants, often remaining undisturbed in the exact location for many years. They require repotting when they are root bound. 

It’s best to transplant them during early spring as they will have less chance of getting transplant shock.

Peony flower blooming
Peony plant ready for blooming

When transplanting the Peony, half of the root system is left behind, triggering the shock. You must be very careful while relocating the plant from one place to another. 

The symptoms of transplant shock are drooping of leaves and stunted growth. 


  • Please provide them with a good water supply after the repotting as it will help them accommodate the new environment. 
  • Avoid pruning and repotting during the time of shock as it further triggers the shock. 
  • Observe the plant for a few days after transplanting, as it will be prone to the attack of pests and diseases. 

7. Low Humidity

Peonies are cultivated in temperate zones with cool and dry climates. They prefer to be in the high humidity region, around 75%-85%.  

When planting the Peony indoors, you may have to maintain a high humidity level as it will be hard to grow in the region of descending humidity. 

They cannot be placed in a group of plants as they will auto-regulate the humidity by creating a micro-ecosystem.  

 The symptoms of low humidity are yellow leaves, curling, and drooping of leaves. Meanwhile, the symptoms of high humidity are root rot and black spots in the leaves. 


  • Mist the plant with water regularly for humidity upkeep. 
  • Fill a pebble tray with water and bring it near the plant, as it helps to increase the humidity.
  • You can add mulch around the base of the Peony, which will help them to absorb the water a bit longer. 
  • Place the plant in an area with high humidity indoors, like the bathroom or kitchen. 

FAQs Regarding Peony Leaves Curling

Can curled leaves go back to normal?

Peonies with curled and brown leaves need ideal conditions to recover.

However, if the leaves are completely curled, it is better to prune them off completely.

Do curling leaves of Peonies mean too much water? 

Yes, Peonies are sensitive to the effect of overwatering. Overwatering leads to the curling of leaves.

Wrapping Up

The bud blasting off is one of the major problems of the Peony plant, along with the leaves curling which will affect the blooming of its flower.

Infertile soil, overwatering, and drought can be the major causes of this problem. 

Make sure to observe these conditions and treat them properly. Happy planting.