Q: I was given two small Sarah Bernhardt peonies. How do I care for them?
A: Daryl Pulis, local perennial expert, says that newly planted peonies rarely flower immediately, alas, even when sold with buds. They usually need 3-5 years to get established and bloom well.
As you probably know, they need to be planted high – so that the crown of the plant is pretty close to soil level. If planted too deep, they won’t flower. You’ll get foliage and no or few buds.
Examine the foliage later in the growing season. Burgundy or black spots spell trouble. See Peony Leaf Spot
Lastly, choose a variety of peony that will survive here. Many that grow up north hate our heat. ‘Festiva Maxima’ is probably the best-known southern peony but ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ does a pretty good job too.