Karl Rosenfield PeonyPaeonia lactiflora ‘Karl Rosenfield’
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Paeonia lactiflora ‘Karl Rosenfield’
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
The Karl Rosenfield Peony is considered by experts to be the very best of the red double peonies, with exception deep coloring that doesn’t fade. The very large blooms are packed with petals that are waved, fluted and notched, for a dynamic and wonderful look. The pure cherry-red coloring puts this at the top of every list, and the foliage is especially attractive and durable. It can be grown in any type of garden, among shrubs or flowers, and it is always attractive, in or out of flower. The foliage turns gold and red in fall.
Plant the Karl Rosenfield Peony in full sun or a little partial shade. It grows well in all well-drained soil, preferring rich soils with regular moisture.Very hardy, it grows well even in zone 3. It is very easy to grow, and long-lived, free of pests or diseases, and not eaten by deer. Remove dead flowers and cut down the foliage in spring. A quick mulch and that is all the care needed for a year of beauty and vigorous growth.
Peonies have been popular in American gardens since before the days of the pioneers, but it was their hardiness in the harsh winters of the Midwest that made them a fixture of our gardens. Today they are sometimes overlooked, or seen as ‘old-fashioned’, but no flowering plant delivers the visual punch of a peony, with such ease. Once planted they need almost no attention and they live for decades – sometimes even seen still growing even when the house they once surrounded has gone. For today’s gardens they offer beauty from both their blooms and their foliage, and fit perfectly into modern shrub borders, as they used to fit into heirloom flower-filled ones. It has been more than 100 years since the Karl Rosenfield Peony was first seen, and yet it is as glorious as ever, and just as useful in any garden. For color in late spring it can’t be beaten, and its glowing cherry-red blooms light up the simplest garden. Plant one and sit back for the reliable return of those blooms every year, in greater and greater profusion, and appreciate how little effort it takes to enjoy such magnificence right in your own garden.
The Karl Rosenfield Peony is an herbaceous perennial plant, dying back to the ground each fall and returning in spring to quickly develop into a shrub-like bush, 2 to 3 feet tall and wide, with large, glossy green leaves divided into many pointed lobes. These stay beautiful and attractive all through summer and into fall, when they often turn shades of red and gold.
The flower buds become visible in May, and this is a reliable variety that blooms profusely every year. Flowers open in June, and each enormous bloom stands firmly upright on a strong stem, with none of that annoying flopping seen with inferior varieties. Each bloom is a broad circle of many wavy outer petals, enclosing a center of fluted and notched inner petals. This is called a ‘fully double’ peony, and it is the richest and fullest type of flower there is. The color is an amazing vibrant cherry-red, becoming slightly pinker as it ages, and many consider this to be the best true-red peony available. Flowers last a full 10 days, even when cut and placed in a vase.
Few of us today have the time for a full flower border, where plants like this used to be grown. But we all have time for mixed shrub borders, and adding this peony among your shrubs adds no more than a few minutes work a year to your gardening schedule. Grow it among other smaller shrubs, particularly ones that bloom earlier or later. Grow it beside a path to appreciate its beauty, or in front of your home, among the foundation planting.
Like other peonies, the Karl Rosenfield Peony is totally hardy even in zone 3, and grows well across a wide range of climates all the way into zone 8. Few plants cover as much of the country as peonies do.
Plant the Karl Rosenfield Peony in full sun for the best growth and blooming. A few hours a day of partial shade, or a bright position in the shade of a north-facing wall is also acceptable. It will grow well in any well-drained soil, preferring richer soils that are generally moist. Once established it is resistant to normal summer dry conditions.
Prepare the planting area well by digging deeply and enriching the soil with compost and bone meal – your peony is going to be in that spot for a long time. It is important not to plant too deeply – this will reduce flowering for several years. Remove a little soil and find where the stems meet the roots. Plant at a depth that places that spot no more than 2 inches below the top of the soil. It can be as little as 1 inch below. Remove flowers as soon as the petals fall, cutting back to the first leaf. Cut back the foliage in late fall to no more than 2 inches long, and mulch at the same time with a 1 to 2-inch layer of rich organic material, like compost or rotted manure. That’s it – a few minutes of care a year, and pests, diseases and even deer also won’t be problems.
The Chinese peony, Paeonia lactiflora, is a plant native to the area from Tibet north through China to Siberia. It has been grown by the Chinese in many varieties for centuries, and often appears in their art. From the time it arrived, and it has been revered and grown by the Chinese for centuries. They loved it not just for flowers, but for the edible root, and for medicinal purposes. It arrived in Europe around 1600, along the Silk Route, and gardeners there, and later in America, began creating new varieties. Most of the peonies we grow today originated in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Because of their hardiness peonies were especially popular with the early pioneer farmers, when John Rosenfield started a peony farm on 10 acres near West Point, Nebraska, in 1884. He was less than 30 years of age and had no formal training in plant breeding. He realized that by planting different varieties close together the seeds he collected were more likely to produce interesting varieties, and in the first years of the 20th century he released several great new plants. The variety he released in 1908 named after his son – ‘Karl Rosenfield’ – became popular after it was mentioned in his brief obituary in the Chicago Sunday Tribune in 1934.
These great classic peonies have so much to offer, it’s no wonder we keep on growing them. They are heirlooms of our gardening history, and always the most popular sellers. That’s why you should order your plants now, because we know this variety is going to sell out very soon.