I planted a chinese tree peony last year. I live in zone 4, Minneapolis,
Minnesota. I protected it and it came through the winter with no damage
apparent whatsoever. It leafed out well but produced no flowers. A few weeks
ago, it started to show signs that a whole branch was in trouble, the leaves
turning brown and crispy. I have removed dead leaves but now I am concerned
that the more of the plant is starting to die.
I haven't over watered it. I check with a water meter and have hardly
watered at all since we have had sufficient rain. Since it started looking
ill, I have only fertilized it once, with fish emulsion mixed with water.
Our soil is bad, very heavy clay so I excavated a hole for it about 3 feet
square and filled it with compost, peat and black dirt. I made a hill for it
to ensure good drainage.I mixed clay soil conditioner with the backfill to
make the surrounding soil less container like. This spring, when I removed
the winter mulch, I incorporated some compost and perlite around the base.
The tree gets full sun most of the day and faces the south.
So far, the damage seems to be limited to one large branch but I am
concerned if it is spreading. Could it be rust? As I said, it has been damp
and cool so far this summer. Any other ideas? I will move the plant to save
it, but right now I can't think of a more ideal spot. Maybe a pot? Any
suggestions would be welcome.