Felix Crousse PeonyPaeonia lactiflora 'Felix Crousse'
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Paeonia lactiflora 'Felix Crousse'
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
The Félix Crousse Peony is a classic variety over 100 years old, but it remains the best red peony available. Its enormous blooms are packed with many fluted petals which curve inwards in a ball. They are a true crimson or magenta red, and this plant make a wonderful show in your garden. After blooming it remains as an attractive leafy bush, almost 3 feet tall, with a rounded form, that fits perfectly into shrub beds anywhere in your garden. Grow it in borders near your house, or along a path or driveway. Grow it at the base of a fence or along a wall, and it will be at home in all styles of garden, from formal to cottage, and Asian too.
Hardy from zones 3 to 9, the Félix Crousse Peony is very easy to grow, and it will live for decades in your garden, asking for almost nothing. It grows well in sun or partial shade, and in any well-drained soil. Adding rich organic material, like compost, when planting, and as a mulch every fall, will give the best and most vigorous growth. Pests and diseases are not a problem, and deer as well as rabbits leave this plant alone. Removing spent flowers and cutting the stems down in fall is all the care it needs.
Peonies have been classic garden flowers for a very long time. The beauty of their blossoms tends to make us forget about the rest of the plant, but peony bushes are also useful and attractive garden shrubs when not in bloom, because their foliage lasts all summer and into the fall, and you can use them as you would any other garden shrub. They are perfect as medium-sized bushes in beds, and they fit into any style of garden. Seen this way, we might be tempted to see the blooms as secondary – if they weren’t so gorgeous and appealing. The generous fullness of their huge blooms makes them eye-catching, bringing a sense of luxury to the garden like no other plant can, and for the most luxurious of pure-red peonies, we need to look no further than an enduring French variety, the Félix Crousse Peony.
The Félix Crousse Peony quickly grows into a rounded bush, 3 ft tall and about 2 feet wide. This plant re-grows each spring from the base, sending up thick stems the emerge from the ground in April, and quickly rise to their full height. A mature plant produces many stems, and each one is topped with a large flower bud on a stalk that rises above the mound of foliage. Each leaf is large, and divided into several leaflets, so the plant has a full, mounded look that makes it an excellent element in shrub borders and beds. In fall, especially in colder zones, strong tones of scarlet, orange and yellow often develop on the leaves, bringing this plant to the fore once again in a very different way.
The blooms of the Félix Crousse Peony are widely known to be very the best red peonies there are. Whether you call it raspberry, crimson, or magenta, this rich red has no traces of scarlet or orange in it, or any pinkiness. For lovers of red, this is the one. Blooming takes place in June, and this peony come late in the season, so if you have a selection of plants this one will extend the ‘peony days’ in your garden, The large blooms are a full 8 inches across when open wide, and the many petals are full and silky, with undulating edges. They curve inwards in a beautiful way, making a dense and rounded bloom. As it matures the outer petals of the flower spread horizontally, but the inner ones stay rounded and curved for the 7 to 10 days the flowers are open. Once the petals fall it is a simple job to trim the stems back to the first leaf, leaving an attractive green bush which holds up well, staying clean and green, for the rest of the gardening season.
The Félix Crousse Peony is a versatile plant in the garden, and it can be grown as a shrub in borders or beds. Plant a single plant in a smaller space, or a group of three in a larger bed. Grow it as a row along a path or driveway, or at the foot of a wall or fence. It grows well on the east or north side of a building, close to a wall, if there is clear sky overhead. It doesn’t matter what style of garden you have; this plant will fit in perfectly. Arranged in formal beds, or growing in a cottage garden, it will be right at home. Coming from China originally, all peonies fit perfectly into Asian gardens, and this one is no exception. If you enjoy cutting flowers for indoors, then grow it in a vegetable or cutting garden. If you cut the stems when the buds are just beginning to open, they will last a full week in a vase.
Peonies are renowned for their hardiness, and the Félix Crousse Peony is no exception. It is totally hardy and reliable from zones 3 to 8, and worth trying in zones 2 and 9 as well. It should be planted in full sun or light partial shade, and it is very adaptable to different types of soil, as long as they are well-drained. Adding generous amounts of rich organic material when planting, and more as a mulch directly over the plant in late fall, will keep your bush thriving and growing. It may take a season or two to become established, but once it does it will live almost forever, and 50 years or more is usual for a peony clump. Pests and diseases normally cause no problems, and deer and rabbits will leave it alone. In fall cut back the stems an inch or two above the ground, and that is all the care needed.
The Chinese peony, Paeonia lactiflora, originally grew wild across northern China, and plants were brought to Europe centuries ago. There, new colors and forms were created, especially in the 19th century, and François Félix Crousse was a major French breeder. At his nursery in Nancy he created over 80 varieties, often named after his family members, and the one carrying his own name was first released in 1881. Although it is now well over 100 years old, this historic variety remains one of the very best available. The Félix Crousse Peony is always in high demand, so order now, because our stock won’t last long.