Botanical: Paeonia lactiflora 'Sarah Bernhardt'
General Characteristics: This herbaceous (soft stemmed) peony is a shrubby plant that, each year, will typically grow to 3' tall by mid-spring, bloom, display attractive foliage throughout the summer and early fall, and then die to the ground after frost. An old standard that features very large, very fragrant, red double flowers. Glossy green foliage is divided into oval to lance-shaped leaflets. Each plant will flower for approximately 7-10 days.
You can plant other peonies with staggered bloom times to extend the total peony bloom period to approximately 6 weeks during May and June. Remove spent flowers after blooming. Cut foliage to the ground and remove from the garden in fall after frost. Plants are long-lived, do not need to be divided and can be left undisturbed for years.
Tip: If plants do not flower, possible causes include (1) planted too deep or too shallow, (2) too much shade, (3) late frost killed buds or (4) plant is too young or has been recently moved or disturbed. Large, fully double flowers usually need staking or other support because they tend to arch toward the ground in the best of weather and can be literally driven into the ground by a hard rain.