Madame Emile Debatène PeonyPaeonia lactiflora ‘Madame Emile Debatène’
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Paeonia lactiflora ‘Madame Emile Debatène’
Outdoor Growing zone
The ‘Madame Emile Debatène’ Peony is a spectacular and rare peony, with 6 to 8 inch diameter flowers packed with many petals, forming a rose-like ball of beauty. The color is a vibrant and rich deep pink, glowing and colorful – sure to brighten your garden in May and June. The main central flower is surrounded by side-buds that extend the flowering season for weeks. The attractive glossy leaves turn yellow and orange in fall, before dying down for the year to an underground root. Long-lived and reliable, this is one of the very best peonies ever created, with mature bushes carrying up to 60 blooms.
Plant the ‘Madame Emile Debatène’ Peony in full sun or with a little shade – too much will reduce flowering. It grows best in rich, moist, well-drained soil, but is resistant to summer dryness once well-established. Each fall, cut down the stems, and cover with a layer of rich organic material. It is usually free of pests or diseases, will live for 50 years or more, and is very easy to grow, even in the coldest zones.
Too gorgeous to ever become unfashionable, peonies have a grand history, and conjure up the days of Gilded Age garden parties so easily. They are also just as likely to find their way to Paris Fashion Week, and in either place anyone called Madame Emile Debatène would be right at home. Equally, she will be right at home in your garden, because the Madame Emile Debatène Peony is incredibly easy to grow, a reliable and prolific bloomer, and most important of all, gorgeous. The huge flower heads stand up on strong stems, unbowed by bad weather, and they glow with the most extraordinarily rich pink you will fall instantly in love with. Peonies are very long-lived, and fall between shrubs and perennials, working well in any garden setting. They may have been around for a long time, but they never become old-fashioned, and they fit into even the most contemporary garden.
The Madame Emile Debatène Peony is a herbaceous perennial plant with a large root. It sends up many leafy stems each year, which then die down in fall, until the root re-sprouts again the next spring. It lives for decades and makes a reliable garden plant that needs no special attention or care. The thick stems that sprout in spring rapidly divide into many glossy leaves, making a rounded mound about 2 feet tall and 3 feet across. Each stem produces a flowering head, rising 3 feet or more into the air. As plants grow older they become larger and taller. A large central flower is produced in May or June, depending on your growing zone, followed by several slightly smaller blooms produced on side-shoots. This variety is a very reliable and prolific bloomer, smothering itself in blooms year after year, with 50 or 60 blooms possible on mature plants.
The blooms are very large, at least 6 inches across, and possibly up to 8 inches across, with a full, rounded form of many petals. When it first opens it is full and round like a rose, and as it matures the outermost petals tend to spread wider, creating a central pom-pom of the smaller petals. The color is extraordinary – a vibrant rich, deep pink that lights up your garden in a way you simply won’t believe. Flowers last for up to 2 weeks, and they can be cut while in bud, once some color is showing, and they will last just as long in a vase.
A superb addition to your shrub beds, you don’t need a perennial garden to grow the Madame Emile Debatène Peony to perfection. Plant it among spring flowering plants, or summer flowering ones, to bridge the gap between them and keep your beds beautiful. After blooming it looks like a regular shrub, and even has great fall colors of yellow, orange to red to enjoy. Plant it in a cottage garden, or between the bushes around your home. Grow it by a doorway, or gate, as a wonderful feature. Choose your planting spot carefully, because peonies grow best if left undisturbed. Unfortunately peonies are not suitable for growing in pots.
A highlight of early summer in the coldest parts of the country, peonies grow well and are completely reliable even in zone 3. They grow just as well everywhere else, all the way into zone 8, and zone 9 in the northwest.
Full sun will give the best results with peonies, although a little shade for a couple of hours a day will do no harm. Too much shade will reduce blooming, and make the stems weaker. It grows best in richer, moist soils that are well-drained. Avoid planting in wet places, and in very dry ones too, although established plants are not troubled by summer drought. Enrich the soil with plenty of organic materials, and use more as mulch in fall.
When planting, be careful to only cover the point where the stems meet the root with no more than an inch of soil. It takes a couple of seasons for your plant to establish itself, and ideally you should remove any flower buds that form in the first spring after planting. It will become more vigorous, taller and produce many flowers once it is well established. Don’t move it – peonies live in the same spot for 50 years without trouble. Cut back the stems of your Madame Emile Debatène Peony close to the ground once they have turned yellow. Cover the whole area with 2 inches of rich organic material, and that is all the care it needs. For extra-large blooms, remove the side-buds when they are still small.
The original Chinese peony, Paeonia lactiflora, grows wild throughout northern China, from Tibet through China and into Siberia. Wild plants have just a circle of petals, but double-forms have been admired and grown in the East for centuries, often appearing in art. It came to the West centuries ago, but the high period for them was in the later parts of the 19th century and up to WWII.
Auguste Dessert was the third generation in a family of peony growers and breeders, dating back to 1840. The family company, Dessert et Méchin, was in the small town of Chenonceaux in central France. At the beginning of the 20th century Edouard Doriat founded les Établissements Doriat, specializing in growing peonies, in Lapalisse, south-central France. He bought up some of the most famous peony companies, and in 1922 purchased Dessert et Méchin. In 1927 he released the peony called Madame Emile Debatène jointly with Dessert, so it is likely it was actually bred by Dessert, and came to Doriat with the purchase of the company.
Peonies belong in every garden, new or old, big or small. They deliver such wonderful blooms, and the Madame Emile Debatène Peony is one of the very best for that. You will wait anxiously each spring to enjoy it again, and we know you will. This rare variety is only available occasionally, so if you want it, now is the moment. Once you see those blooms you will be glad you didn’t hesitate.