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Paeonia lactiflora 'Duchesse de Nemours'

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Kemper Code:  Q260

Common Name: peony
Zone: 3 to 8
Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Paeoniaceae
Missouri Native: No
Native Range: None
Height: 2.5 to 3 feet
Spread: 2.5 to 3 feet
Bloom Time: May   Bloom Data
Bloom Color: White (double)
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium

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Plant Culture and Characteristics

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  Uses:       Wildlife:   Flowers:   Leaves:   Fruit:
Hedge Suitable as annual Attracts birds Has showy flowers Leaves colorful Has showy fruit
Shade tree Culinary herb Attracts Has fragrant flowers Leaves fragrant Fruit edible
Street tree Vegetable   hummingbirds Flowers not showy Good fall color   Other:
Flowering tree Water garden plant Attracts Good cut flower Evergreen Winter interest
Gr. cover (<1') Will naturalize   butterflies Good dried flower     Thorns or spines

General Culture:

Easily grown in rich, fertile, medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Add compost as needed before planting. Each plant will flower for approximately 7-10 days. Plant other cultivars with staggered bloom times to extend the total peony bloom period to approximately 6 weeks during May and June (in the St Louis area). 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.

Noteworthy Characteristics:

This herbaceous (soft stemmed) peony cultivar 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 large, very fragrant, double flowers (white bombs) with cupped, white guard petals and dense light yellow centers. Blooms in late mid-season (usually May in the St. Louis area). Glossy green foliage is divided into oval to lance-shaped leaflets. Excellent cut flower. (Calot, 1856).


Peonies are considered to be relatively pest free. Botrytis blight and Phytophthora blight are sometimes problems. Ants on peony buds are common and totally harmless. 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.


Peonies are a standard of the perennial border, both as specimens and in groups. Also effective as accents or herbaceous hedges along fences, sidewalks, driveways or walls. Flowers are extremely showy, and foliage remains attractive throughout the growing season, either alone or as a frame or backdrop for other flowering perennials.

Missouri Botanical Garden, 2001-2011