Little Red Gem
Year Registered: 1988
Breeder/registrant: Reath, D. L.
Official registration can be found at: The American Peony Society
Hybrid, first bloomed 1980. Parentage Gwenda F2 x self. A new rock garden peony, a single light red; blooms very early with tenuifolia season. 12-18″ in height, fine cut foliage, dwarf, mound type, Blooms above dwarf plants. Slender strong stems. Seedling # G-9
Award of Landscape Merit (ALM) description: ‘Little Red Gem’ (Reath, D.L., 1988) Herbaceous Hybrid, Red Single, Very early, 15″. — Marks the onset of peony season as stalks emerge in late winter/early spring with bright green buds nestled deep within russet tufts of filigreed foliage. Plants mature to a dwarf, airy mound of deeply dissected, medium green foliage with stalks, leaf stems and leaflets immediately underneath the buds, slightly yellower than the rest. When in bloom, small, single, cool red flowers set atop the foliage on strong, slender stems facing every which way. The blooms, one per stem, quickly lighten to pink, losing their form as they go. Plants are strongly disease resistant and suitable as specimen plants for rock gardens and for the front of the border. When adventitious roots of ‘Little Red Gem’ are planted close together, they can make for a unique spring to early summer ground cover. ‘Little Red Gem’s’ fern-like foliage is an attribute from one of its species parents P. tenuifolia, whose native habitat (hardiness zones 4-6) ranges from Berlin in the east, to Moscow in the west, north to Helsinki and south toward the Black Sea. It is not surprising then that ‘Little Red Gem’ goes dormant early in the South and the lower Midwestern United States. Die back of above ground foliage can be suppressed to some extent by a regular watering regimen and protection from the midday sun. Farther north, as noted by a grower outside of Montreal (hardiness zone 4) season long, good foliage can be reliably maintained with just nominal garden care. Because of its P. tenuifolia heritage, it may be advisable to amend the soil with peat moss when planting. Propagate by division or adventitious root.