Chinese Peony, Garden Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Paeonia lactiflora

Family: Paeoniaceae
Genus: Paeonia (pay-OHN-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: lactiflora (lak-tee-FLOR-uh) (Info)
Cultivar: Sarah Bernhardt
» View all varieties of Peonies




24-36 in. (60-90 cm)


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)


USDA Zone 2a: to -45.5 C (-50 F)

USDA Zone 2b: to -42.7 C (-45 F)

USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)

USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun



Bloom Color:


Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Mid Summer



Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

By dividing the rootball

Seed Collecting:

N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

Flowers are fragrant

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:


Hanceville, Alabama

Anchorage, Alaska

Juneau, Alaska

Goodyear, Arizona

Malvern, Arkansas

Montara, California

Mountain Ranch, California

Quartz Hill, California

Santa Rosa, California

Madison, Connecticut

New Haven, Connecticut

Old Lyme, Connecticut

Oxford, Connecticut

Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

Washington, District Of Columbia

Mableton, Georgia

Georgetown, Indiana

Lafayette, Indiana

Macy, Indiana

Wilkinson, Indiana

Barbourville, Kentucky

Henderson, Kentucky

Salvisa, Kentucky

Deridder, Louisiana

Independence, Louisiana

Durham, Maine

Gardiner, Maine

Abingdon, Maryland

Brookeville, Maryland

Jessup, Maryland

Ashburnham, Massachusetts

Hadley, Massachusetts

Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts

Northbridge, Massachusetts

Randolph, Massachusetts

Frankfort, Michigan

Harrison, Michigan

Lake Orion, Michigan

Traverse City, Michigan

Blackduck, Minnesota

Kasota, Minnesota

Saint Paul, Minnesota

Natchez, Mississippi

Cole Camp, Missouri

Fenton, Missouri

Jackson, Missouri

Moberly, Missouri

Rogersville, Missouri

Saint Robert, Missouri

Blackwood, New Jersey

Lambertville, New Jersey

New Providence, New Jersey

Riverton, New Jersey

Buffalo, New York

Elba, New York

Greene, New York

Ithaca, New York (2 reports)

Southold, New York

Raleigh, North Carolina

Belfield, North Dakota

Coshocton, Ohio

Pickerington, Ohio

Portsmouth, Ohio

Streetsboro, Ohio

Bartlesville, Oklahoma

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Mount Hood Parkdale, Oregon

Allentown, Pennsylvania

Equinunk, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Reynoldsville, Pennsylvania

Schwenksville, Pennsylvania

Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania

Columbia, South Carolina

Greenville, South Carolina

Clarksville, Tennessee

Cleveland, Tennessee

Fairview, Tennessee

Gainesboro, Tennessee

Knoxville, Tennessee

Lafayette, Tennessee

Rockwood, Tennessee

Desoto, Texas

Fort Worth, Texas

Georgetown, Texas

Tyler, Texas

Logan, Utah

Ogden, Utah (3 reports)

Falls Church, Virginia

Leesburg, Virginia

Luray, Virginia

Petersburg, Virginia

Stephens City, Virginia

Bellevue, Washington

Port Orchard, Washington

Rosalia, Washington

Spanaway, Washington

Vancouver, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Apr 12, 2015, RockWhispererOK from Bartlesville, OK wrote:

No one has yet mentioned how nicely peonies hold their color and scent when dried for floral arrangements, potpourris and wreaths. Cut when in their prime, dry while hanging upside-down in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. I just bought my Sarah Bernhardt at Aldi's, it's already starting to sprout. Hope it does well.


On Mar 13, 2012, LauraSteele from Fort Wayne, IN wrote:

Per the 1928 Lee R. Bonnewitz Iris and Peony catalog of Van Wert, Ohio:
SARAH BERNHARDT (Lemoine). One of the very largest and best pink Peonies in the world. It is borne on very tall stems which in seasons when the weather is perfect, carry the blooms gracefully, but which in stormy rainy weather, cannot hold the immense rain-soaked flowers. It blooms most prolifically and is a vigorous grower, and as everybody likes its splendid size and soft pink color, it is a most popular variety and we do not hesitate to recommend it to anyone who is beginning to make up a collection of fine Peonies. $2.00

Per the APS website:
SARAH BERNHARDT (Lemoine, 1906) - Double - Pink - Late. Medium height. Fragrant, but not especially so. Very large. Dark rose-pink, edged a trifle ... read more


On May 10, 2011, munchkin44 from Fairview, TN wrote:

It took several years, but now they bloom prolifically. Flowers are so large and heavy (some 6") that when I tried a plant ring the stems broke at the ring. Am just letting it go this year. and yes it droops but is still beautiful.


On Feb 26, 2011, luciee from Hanceville, AL (Zone 7a) wrote:

I have planted 2 years in a row, and cannot get it to bloom. All the old ladies when I was young had a pink and a white. I do not know what to do with mine.


On Feb 8, 2010, birder17 from Jackson, MO (Zone 6b) wrote:

I have Sarah Bernhardt lining one side of my driveway. They are in full sun and on a slope. They hold the soil very well and they are loaded with blooms. I have had them for fifteen years and this spring I need to divide them as there are so many blooms they droop even though I put a large ringed plant support on each of them. There are so many blooms that they're not getting good air circultion and some of them will rot. They are very fragrant, very showy, and I haven't done a thing to them. My only complaint is the blooms only last about two weeks. I dead head the blooms as I think they look ugly after they're through blooming.
I will say that when you plant them make sure you plant the crown above the grown or they will not bloom very well.


On Sep 28, 2009, debarnes65 from Abingdon, MD (Zone 6b) wrote:

While I feel positive about this plant, none of the three I planted this season yielded a bloom. I expected none in the first season, but I would like to confirm that this is normal and that blossums will be forthcoming next year.


On May 21, 2009, creekwalker from Benton County, MO (Zone 5a) wrote:

I love these plants! Very hardy and easy to care for. Last year I only had one bloom, but this year I got at least 8 huge blooms. Beautiful! My only problem with them is that the flower heads droop so badly after blooming.


On Oct 13, 2008, eliasastro from Athens,
Greece (Zone 10a) wrote:

My favorite flowers!
I really adore them, but they usually didn't give many flowers.
After a heavy winter with few days of snow and light frost they made a surprising bloom!
I was confused because a single peony that i got bloomed very well even after mild winters, but doubles need cold.
This winter i will add ice cubes on the ground!


On Jun 2, 2008, grik from Saint Paul, MN wrote:

Its a very nice giant pink flower. Does anyone else think that the so called "fragrance" is a little bit stinky though? Fool proof plant.


On May 27, 2007, HOLLYHOCKGIRL from MEDFORD,
United States wrote:



On Jul 23, 2006, Patatthebeach from Rehoboth Beach, DE wrote:

Such a pretty pink. Lots of blooms in zone 7b Rehoboth Beach, DE. I love it!


On Apr 18, 2006, Greenharvest from Hadley, MA wrote:

I inherited this peony from the former owner of our house. They had been planted in a, formerly sunny , spot at the side of the house. The trees beside them had grown quite large, and so the plants were in shade most of the day. I transplanted four clumps to an open, sunny spot in my flower garden, and I now enjoy dozens of bright, healthy blooms each year, rather than the one or two small and puny ones that struggled to bloom before. Aren't the rewards wonderful when you provide the right conditions to a plant?


On Aug 21, 2005, amarilia from Vancouver,
Canada wrote:

These plants are beauties which are great as cut flowers as well as they look in the garden.A whole area of my garden is dedicated to peonies of which half are Sarah B. I do have a problem in Vancouver which is that the branches and leaves turn brown right to the root. Would it be O.K. to cut them all back at this time as it is only the end of August. I usually let them wilt to the ground in the winter. Maybe someone can tell me if I would be harming them by cutting them back so early in the year.


On Jun 18, 2005, llebpmac_bob from Zephyr,
Canada wrote:

Probably the most commonly available peony in southern Ontario. I have several. Absolutely reliable, never had a problem with them. Heavy bloomers and so can cut enough for a decent bouquet without seriously reducing the display in the garden. Only real drawback is that like most double peonies it really needs a ring to hold it up. Somehow either heavy rain or strong winds seem to come along just as they open.


On Oct 28, 2004, lmelling from Ithaca, NY (Zone 5b) wrote:

Absolutely outstanding rose-pink double peony - very full blossoms! Plants are fairly resistant to blights and disease. Plant in well drained soil in full sun (northern states only) or partial shade. Will take full shade but will not flower as well. Give plenty of water prior to bloom time

When planting for the first time, make sure eyes of the plant are no more than 1 to 1 1/2 " below the soil line. Very hardy.

I grow several of these peony bushes to cut for dried flower arrangements. Usually drys well except in very wet years - will sometimes go slightly brown when drying.