Brown spots on peony leaves

I have four well-established peony bushes. They all seem healthy and are full of blooms each year. The plants are spaced about 24" apart, center to center. I brace the stems with circle supports that I raise as they grow. I deadhead faithfully through the bloom period. After the last blooms die, brown spots start to appear on the top leaves. They look like burns. By late July the plants are covered with these brown spots. Except for the spots, the plants still look vigorous. What's up?
Submitted by BHGPhotoContest

It sounds like your peonies are under siege from the most common and aggravating peony disease, Botrytis paeoniae, a.k.a. Botrytis blight. Once the pathogen is present in your garden, you'll likely see it attack your peonies every year, with more severe attacks during wetter years. To lessen Botrytis's impact, remove and discard all of the peony plant debris in the fall, then add a 2-3-inch layer of mulch. If you're troubled enough by it, you can spray fungicide. But you'd have to start a spray regimen when the shoots first emerge from the soil in the spring and repeat every two weeks through July. The fungicide is used as a preventative, because it won't clear up Botrytis-damaged plants later in the season.


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