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PAEONIA lactiflora 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Image of Paeonia lactiflora 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Jesse Saylor

Family

Paeoniaceae

Botanical Name

PAEONIA lactiflora 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Plant Common Name

Herbaceous Peony, Sarah Bernhardt Garden Peony

General Description

Bearing large double pink blooms toward the end of peony season, 'Sarah Bernhardt' has remained a garden favorite since its introduction in 1906. It is a selection of Paeonia lactiflora, a large, bushy, tuberous perennial from East Asia that has been bred, cultivated, and treasured for thousands of years.

The moderately fragrant, dome-shaped blooms of this heirloom peony appear on tall stems in late spring to early summer. Each blossom has a collar of large soft-pink petals surrounding a central mass of ruffled, petal-like segments that shade to rose-pink at the flower's center. Bees, ants, and the occasional butterfly visit the blooms. The bold, divided, dark green leaves turn maroon in fall.

Peonies grow best in full to partial sun and well-drained, fertile soil. The tall stems of this cultivar may flop if not staked. These old-fashioned perennials are very long-lived and have been known to survive in gardens for over 100 years. Plant them in foundation plantings or any floral border. Peony blooms make outstanding cut flowers.

Divide plants in early autumn or as shoots break ground in spring. Divide every 3 to 4 years to keep plants vigorous. Plant divisions at a finger's-width depth; plants set too deep will not flower.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    8 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    3 - 9

  • Sunset Zone

    A1, A2, A3, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20

  • Plant Type

    Perennial

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    34"-40" / 86.4cm - 101.6cm (36)

  • Width

    3'-4' / 0.9m - 1.2m

  • Bloom Time

    Late Spring, Early Summer

  • Native To

    Eastern Asia

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Pink, Light Pink, Burgundy, Ivory

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Dark Green, Burgundy, Bronze

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Double

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Cutflower, Feature Plant, Foundation, Mixed Border

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No