The Tree Center


Sarah Bernhardt Peony

Paeonia lactiflora 'Sarah Bernhardt'


How are the heights measured?

All tree, and nothin' but the tree! We measure from the top of the soil to the top of the tree; the height of the container or the root system is never included in our measurements.

What is a gallon container?

Nursery containers come in a variety of different sizes, and old-school nursery slang has stuck. While the industry-standard terminology is to call the sizes "Gallon Containers", that doesn't exactly translate to the traditional liquid "gallon" size we think of. You'll find we carry young 1-gallons, up to more mature 7-gallons ranging anywhere from 6 inches to 6ft.

How does the delivery process work?

All of our orders ship via FedEx Ground! Once your order is placed online, our magic elves get right to work picking, staging, boxing and shipping your trees. Orders typically ship out within 2 business days. You will receive email notifications along the way on the progress of your order, as well as tracking information to track your plants all the way to their new home!

Why are some states excluded from shipping?

The short & sweet answer is: "United States Department of Agriculture Restrictions." Every state has their own unique USDA restrictions on which plants they allow to come into their state. While we wish we could serve everyone, it's for the safety of native species and helps prevent the spread of invasive disease & pests. We've gotta protect good ole' Mother Nature, after all.

About Me


The Sarah Bernhardt Peony produces huge blooms at the end of every stem, and each one is over 8 inches across. Packed with incurving petals, their rich pink coloring fades to shell pink at the ends of the petals. It gives off a delicate perfume and lasts a full 7 to 10 days in the garden, and a week in a vase. The rounded bush has sturdy green foliage that is very effective in shrub beds and borders. Plant it along a fence or a wall, near entrances, or in garden beds. Whatever your garden style, this plant is a great choice for it.

  • Smothered in huge rose-pink double flowers
  • Sweetly scented blossoms
  • Excellent durable foliage lasts all summer
  • Cold hardy to at least zone 3
  • Trouble-free, long-lived and low-maintenance

The Sarah Bernhardt Peony is completely hardy in zone 3, and all the way to zone 8, and in zone 9 on the Pacific coast. With some care it will even grow in zone 2. Plant in full sun or light partial shade, in any well-drained soil. Richer soils will produce the best results, so use plenty of organic material when planting and as annual mulch. Pests and diseases never bother it, and it lives for decades in any garden. Deer and rabbits never touch it, and this easy-care plant asks for only a simple cutting down in fall to thrive for you.

Plant Hardiness Zones 3-8
Mature Width 2-3
Mature Height 3
Soil Conditions Well-Drained Soil
Sunlight Full Sun to Partial Shade
Drought Tolerance Moderate Drought Tolerance
Zones 3-8

Often in our gardens we want to grow the latest variety, and at the Tree Center we love to offer you up-to-date varieties, and the best of them too. But sometimes the oldies are the best, and when it comes to peonies that is almost always true. The great time for breeding these plants was the end of the 19th century, and varieties from those long-gone times still top the lists of favorites. Those extravagant days of the ‘Belle Epoque’ in France were epitomized by the actress Sarah Bernhardt, a great celebrity of the times. The richness and beauty of the peony that carries her name, and was created in her honor, has all the lushness and fullness of that time too, and its gorgeous pink blooms will be eagerly awaited every year when you grow the beautiful and beloved Sarah Bernhardt Peony.

The Sarah Bernhardt Peony grows into a rounded bush, about 3 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide, becoming wider as it matures. It is a long-lived plant, and it will live for decades in your garden with minimal care. Although it dies down to the ground in fall, it quickly returns in spring and takes on a shrub-like form, with durable, attractive foliage in a full mound. After blooming it remains lush and attractive, effectively filling spaces in your beds and borders. In fall the leaves may color scarlet, yellow and orange, adding a beautiful feature to the late-fall garden.

The Sarah Bernhardt Peony is famous for its blooms, which open in June, after many of the earlier peonies have flowered. If you grow some early-blooming varieties as well, like the sparkling Mr. Ed Peony, you will enjoy weeks and weeks of peonies in your garden. The blooms are very large, 8 or 9 inches across, with many tightly-packed petals making a round ball of beauty. The form is like a giant rose, with thick, lustrous petals opening from the outside in. they are a beautiful rich rose-pink, fading to lighter pink tones at the edges of the petals, and as the bloom ages. Sometimes you will see a thin red line on the edge of some of the inner petals. The flowers give off a gentle, sweet fragrance. Blooms last 7 to 10 days on the bush, and if you cut stems from established plants just as the petals are unfurling, they will last a full week in a vase in your home.

Grow the Sarah Bernhardt Peony in beds and borders, among other perennial flowering plants, or as a shrub in a low-maintenance shrub border. One of the best features of this plant is how it combines the extravagant blooming of classic herbaceous plants with a shrub-like form, so you can enjoy the best of both worlds, combining fabulous flowers with easy-care gardening. Plant a specimen in a smaller bed, or a group of 3 plants in a larger one. Grow it along a path or by an entrance, or against a wall or fence. With its simple but effective form it fits into any style of gardening at all, from Eastern to Western, and from formal organization to casual cottage gardening.

The Sarah Bernhardt Peony is very cold-resistant, and ideal for the coldest parts of the country. It will live in zone 3 with no worries, and even in zone 2 with a little care. It grows equally well all the way to zone 8, and in the west it may also grow in zone 9. Plant it in a sunny spot, even in warmer zones, although this adaptable plant will tolerate a little light shade too. It grows in any kind of well-drained soil, preferring richer soils. Add plenty of organic material when planting, and mulch over the whole plant and root-zone in fall, after cutting back the leaves to an inch or so above the ground. No particular care is needed for this long-lived plant, and pests or diseases rarely if ever bother it. Deer and rabbits leave it alone too, so it will be left in peace to grow and thrive for you.

The Chinese peony, Paeonia lactiflora, grows wild throughout northern China, from Tibet to the eastern tip of Siberia. It has been admired and treasured in the East for centuries, and it was brought to Europe a long time ago. The great European plant breeders of the 19th century, especially in France, created many new and beautiful forms. Victor Lemoine is famous for developing the French Lilacs at his nursery in Nancy, but he didn’t stop there. He also bred many other plants, including peonies, and he developed dozens of new forms and colors. His most famous, though, and still incredibly popular today, is ‘Sarah Bernhardt’, which was released in 1906, the year Bernhardt made her American Farewell Tour. It is amazing that a plant that is now well over 100 years old should still be so desirable, but it is, and as one of our top-selling peonies it never stays available for long. Enjoy growing the very best, but order now, or we will have to disappoint you with a ‘sold out’ notice.

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Sarah Bernhardt Peony

Paeonia lactiflora 'Sarah Bernhardt'