The Garden Community for Garden Lovers

Renfrewshire, Scotland Sco

I have a peony in my garden that for the first time has shown symptoms of what I suspect is tobacco rattle virus. The plant is around 5 years old and this year flowered better than previous years. However, it has also shown these symptoms for the first time. I have no other peonies close to it. It is surrounded by poppies, campanula, hydrangea, hellebores, leylandii hedging.

I am looking for some advice on what to do about the plant. I understand that the disease cannot be treated but am not sure if it is safe to leave the plant in or if it should be removed and destroyed.




Looks like it. Sadly there is no cure, all you can di is dig out the whole plant and burn it.

1 Jul, 2018


I can understand your dilemma, because there is conflicting advice in regard to this virus. The RHS still refers to it as Paeony Ringspot virus, and the advice is to largely ignore it (unless you're a professional grower) whereas information from America suggests the cause is actually tobacco rattle virus, and the advice is to remove and destroy affected plants. The virus is spread via nematodes in the soil, and can affect other plants, including Iris and Tulip. Links for this information are here:

There's an interesting thread here from the Scottish Rock Garden club

which gives more extensive information, but it appears the virus is relatively mild, the plant which originally exhibited symptoms may recover and grow normally, but nonetheless will always remain infected. As its in the environment already, which must mean the nematodes which cause the infection are already present in your soil, removing and destroying this particular plant may not do very much in terms of eradication.

Ultimately, I guess its about whether you are content to just live with it knowing your paeony is infected, or whether you feel the need to uproot and destroy the plant in an attempt to control the virus, though it seems healthy, strong plants growing in ideal conditions are less susceptible to the virus ongoing.

1 Jul, 2018


Many thanks, guys. What you say is a little reassuring, Bamboo. I think I would be happy enough to go with the advice you give from the RHS. I don't have any crops around it. Nor do I have any tulips or daffs. I do have some lillies and irises, so not sure if those are likely to become infected, but I do like the plant. It has a wonderful fragrance and such gorgeous pink blooms.

1 Jul, 2018

How do I say thanks?

Answer question


Not found an answer?