This group of plants combines handsome foliage with showy flowers. Double, semidouble, or single blossoms in red, orange, pink, or yellow appear through- out the summer if plants are deadheaded regularly; they make good cut flowers. Leaves of most are divided into many leaflets, often with scalloped or toothed margins. Geums are not suited to extended summer heat. They'll grow in the Middle South, but they prefer the Upper South and higher elevations of the Appalachians, Blue Ridge Mountains, and Ozarks. Soil should be consistently moist and, except for G. rivale, well drained. Start from seed sown in early spring, or set out transplants. Divide established plants in fall or spring. Deer resistant.
G. 'Alabama Slammer'. This hybrid forms a clump of light green leaves 14 in. high and 10 in. wide. Ruffled, single or semidouble flowers up to 1 in. wide are multicolored: golden yellow marked with red and orange. Stems and calyxes are deep burgundy.
G. chiloense. CHILEAN AVENS. Best-known species. Native to Chile. Mounding foliage clumps to 15 in. high, 2 ft. wide. Leafy, branched, flowering stems reach about 2 ft. high, topped by 1- to 112-in.-wide flowers. Dozens of hybrids and selections are available. Look for semidouble orange 'Dolly North', semidouble orange-scarlet 'Fire Opal', double yellow 'Lady Stratheden', double scarlet 'Mrs. J. Bradshaw', semidouble soft yellow 'Prinses Juliana' ('Princess Juliana'), and double tangerine 'Starker's Magnificum'. 'Totally Tangerine' is heavy blooming, with single, warm orange flowers on a plant 2 ft. high and 1 ft. wide.
G. coccineum. Native to the Balkans, Asia Minor. To 1220 in. tall and wide, with coarsely divided foliage and brick-red, 112-in. flowers. Two selections to 1 ft. tall and wide are 'Borisii', with orange-red flowers, and 'Werner Arends', with bright orange blooms. 'Red Wings', to 28 in. tall and wide, has semidouble scarlet flowers.
G. rivale. WATER AVENS, INDIAN CHOCOLATE. Native to North America and Eurasia. Grows to 1 ft. tall and wide, bearing slightly nodding, ivory to pink, 34-in. flowers. Needs a cool site with boggy soil. Boiled roots of plant yield a liquid that tastes faintly like chocolate. 'Leonard's Variety' has double coppery rose flowers. Hybrid 'Lionel Cox' has creamy apricot blooms with wavy petals.
G. triflorum. PRAIRIE SMOKE. Native to the prairies and mountains of North America. Foot-wide, leafy mound produces stems to 20 in. tall, each bearing clusters of nodding maroon flowers to 112 in. wide. Entire plant is often furry. Seeds have long, upright, feathery gray tails resembling wisps of smoke.