CRANESBILL

FAMILY: Geraniaceae | GENUS: GERANIUM

TYPE
  • Perennials
SUN EXPOSURE
  • Partial Shade
WATER
  • Regular Water
PLANTING ZONES
  • US (Upper South) / Zone 6
  • MS (Middle South) / Zone 7
  • LS (Lower South) / Zone 8

Plant Details

The common indoor/outdoor plant that most people know as geranium is, botanically, Pelargonium. Considered here are true geraniums, which are hardy plants. Many types bloom over a fairly long period, bearing flowers that are attractive, though not as showy as those of Pelargonium. Carried singly or in clusters of two or three, flowers have five overlapping petals that look alike. (Pelargonium blossoms also have five petals, but two point in one direction, the other three in the opposite direction.) Colors include rose, blue, and purple; a few are pure pink or white. The beaklike fruit that follows the flowers accounts for the common name cranesbill. Leaves are roundish or kidney shaped, with lobed or deeply cut edges; plants may be upright or trailing. Good in perennial borders; some are useful as small-scale ground covers.

All of the species listed here appreciate afternoon shade and moist, well-drained soil. Clumps of most types can be left in place for many years before they decline due to crowding; at that point, divide clumps in early spring. Increase plantings by transplanting rooted portions from a clump's edge. Most types bloom heavily in spring and early summer, then go dormant when the weather gets hot in July and August. Resist browsing deer.

geranium 'Ann Folkard

  • Mounding, billowing plant (112 feet high, to 5 feet wide) with chartreuse leaves that age to light green.
  • Saucer-shaped, 112 inches-wide blossoms are rich magenta purple suffused with pink and blue, centered and veined in black.
  • Blooms from June through August.
  • Effective planted at edge of patio and sprawling onto it.

geranium 'Anne Thomson

  • Similar to Geranium 'Ann Folkard' but more compact (1 feet high, 3 feet wide) and with greater heat tolerance.

geranium 'Brookside

  • Hybrid developed from Geranium pratense.
  • To 212 feet tall and wide, with deeply serrated leaves.
  • Covered in late spring with rich blue, bowl-shaped flowers to 2 inches across.
  • Somewhat similar to Geranium 'Johnson's Blue' but easier to grow.

geranium xcantabrigiense

  • Excellent ground cover, 68 inches high, spreading slowly but widely.
  • Dark green leaves 112212 inches wide, deeply cut with multiple lobes.
  • Cambridge has bright bluish pink flowers, 341 inches wide.
  • The blooms of 'Biokovo' and 'St. Ola' are white blushed pale pink and slightly larger.

geranium cinereum

  • From the Pyrenees.
  • Grows to 6 inches tall, much wider, with deeply cut, soft gray-green leaves.
  • Inch-wide pink flowers with darker veining appear in late spring and summer.
  • Ballerina has lilac-pink flowers with purple veining; blooms over a long summer season.
  • Laurence Flatman has slightly larger flowers of a deeper color.
  • Purple Pillow has bright purple flowers with dark purple veins.
  • Variety Geranium c.
  • subcaulescens (G.
  • subcaulescens) has darker green leaves and deep purplish red flowers with black centers.

geranium dalmaticum

  • From the Balkans.
  • Low (45 inches.) carpeting plant with glossy, 112 inches., finely cut leaves and soft pink, inch-wide flowers in spring.
  • Leaves turn orange and red in fall.
  • Spreads slowly to make a 2 feet-wide mat; useful in rock gardens.

geranium endressii

  • From southern Europe to southwest Asia.
  • Bushy plant to 1112 feet tall, spreading to 2 feet across.
  • Leaves are 23 inches wide, deeply cut into five lobes.
  • Rose-pink flowers to about 1 inches across.

geranium himalayense(Geranium grandiflorum)

  • Wiry, branching stems form a clump to 12 feet high, spreading wider.
  • Roundish, long-stalked, five-lobed leaves to 134 inches across.
  • Clustered, 112- to 2 inches-wide flowers are lilac with purple veins and a red-purple eye.
  • Graveteye is a dependable selection; 'Baby Blue' has larger light blue flowers.
  • Plenum ('Birch Double') is less vigorous, with double flowers in light lavender.

geranium 'Johnson's Blue

  • Hybrid resembling its Geranium himalayense parent, but with more finely divided leaves and blue-violet, 2 inches-wide flowers.

geranium macrorrhizum

  • From southern Europe.
  • To 810 inches high, spreading by underground rootstocks and fleshy rhizomes that root on soil surface.
  • Inch-wide magenta flowers in spring; fragrant, five- to seven-lobed, 4- to 8 inches-wide leaves that take on attractive tints in autumn.
  • Good ground cover for small areas, though it can overwhelm delicate smaller plants.
  • Selections include deep reddish purple 'Bevan's Variety'; pink 'Spessart'; 'Ingwersen's Variety', with soft bluish pink blossoms over a long season; and 'Album', bearing white flowers with pink sepals and stamens.
  • Flowers of 'White-Ness' are pure white.

wild geranium, wild cranesbill

geranium maculatum

  • Native to eastern North America; the only commonly cultivated native cranesbill.
  • To 1 feet high, 2 feet wide, deeply divided leaves and an abundance of lilac-pink, 1- to 112 inches-wide flowers in spring.
  • Album has white blooms.
  • Leaves of 'Elizabeth Ann' and 'Espresso' are dark chocolate-brown.

geranium x magnificum

  • Vigorous sterile hybrid that spreads steadily, forming broad clumps 22 feet high and wide.
  • Rounded, quilted, 3 inches leaves are divided into broad segments; take on red and orange tones in fall.
  • Profuse 2 inches violet blossoms heavily veined in deep purple appear in late spring and summer.
  • Rosemoor is a choice selection with darkly veined, blue-violet flowers produced over an extended period.

geranium x oxonianum

  • Among the best selections is 'Claridge Druce', which forms a vigorous clump 23 feet tall, 3 feet wide.
  • Rounded, 3- to 4 inches leaves are deeply cut into broad, toothed lobes.
  • Funnel-shaped, broad-petaled, 112- to 134 inches., cool pink flowers with purplish veins bloom late spring to summer.
  • Good large-scale ground cover but can overwhelm adjacent plants.
  • Self-sows profusely; seedlings resemble parent, but blossoms often have narrower petals.
  • Wargrave Pink is similar in habit but a little less vigorous, with glossy, warm pink blossoms that resemble those of Geranium endressii.

mourning widow, dusky cranesbill

geranium phaeum

  • Shade-loving native of southern and central European mountains.
  • Grows to 2 feet high, 112 feet wide.
  • Leaves are basal, 34 inches across, shallowly cut into seven to nine tooth-edged lobes, often with brown markings.
  • Bears clusters of dusky purple or maroon, 34- to 1 inches blossoms in May and June.
  • Album has blooms of pure white.
  • Lily Lovell has purplish maroon blooms with a white eye.
  • Leaves of 'Margaret Wilson' are heavily streaked with creamy yellow; flowers are light purple.
  • Samobor has maroon flowers and leaves heavily marked with maroon.

geranium platypetalum

  • From Turkey and the Caucasus.
  • Clump 112 feet high and wide with rounded, quilted, 4- to 8 inches-wide leaves, shallowly cut into seven to nine scalloped lobes.
  • Saucer-shaped, 112- to 134 inches flowers with notched petals are deep violet blue with paler center and dark veins.
  • Late spring bloomer.

meadow cranesbill

geranium pratense

  • Native from Ireland to Siberia and Japan.
  • Forms a clump 1122 feet tall, 23 feet wide.
  • Hairy, 3- to 6 inches leaves on upright stalks are deeply cut into seven narrow, pointed, divided lobes.
  • Flowers about 1 inches wide, typically blue with reddish veins.
  • Self-sows profusely; cut to ground when flowers fade to prevent seedlings and encourage rebloom.
  • Black Beauty has dark purple leaves and light blue blooms.
  • Midnight Reiter has plum-colored foliage; the flowers are lavender-blue.
  • 'Mrs.
  • Kendall Clark' has pale blue flowers with lighter veins.
  • Plenum Violaceum ('Flore Pleno') has fully double, deep violet-blue blossoms.
  • Striatum has white blossoms irregularly splashed, streaked, or spotted with violet-blue.

geranium 'Rozanne

  • This naturally occurring hybrid between Geranium himalayense and Geranium wallichianum 'Buxton's Variety' is popular and easy to grow.
  • Plants reach 1 2 feet high and spread a little wider, forming a lush mound of deeply lobed, dark green leaves.
  • Foliage takes on attractive red tones in the fall.
  • Stunning flowers, to 2 inches wide, are rich violet-blue with darker veins and a large white eye.
  • Blooms summer into fall.

bloody cranesbill

geranium sanguineum

  • Native from western Europe to the Caucasus and Turkey.
  • Grows 112 feet high, with trailing stems spreading to 2 feet Roundish, 1- to 212 inches-wide, dark green leaves with five to seven lobes; turn blood red in fall.
  • Deep purple to almost crimson flowers, 112 inches wide, bloom from late spring well into summer.
  • Album is somewhat taller than the species and has white flowers.
  • Other 1- to 112 feet selections include 'John Elsley', pink with deeper pink veins; 'Max Frei', reddish purple; 'New Hampshire', deep purple; and 'Vision', reddish purple.
  • Elke (G.
  • Elke) grows 10 inches tall and 3 feet wide, with bright pink, red-veined flowers; petals are edged in white.

The variety Geranium s. striatum (Geranium s. 'Prostratum', Geranium lancastriense) is a dwarf formlower and more compact and an excellent choice for rock garden or foreground. It has light pink flowers heavily veined with red (its seedlings may vary somewhat).

geranium sylvaticum

  • Native from Ireland to Siberia, south to Turkey.
  • To 212 feet tall and wide.
  • Leaves are deeply lobed and toothed; inch-wide flowers range in color from bluish to reddish purple.

geranium wallichianum

  • Native to the Himalayas.
  • Grows to 1ft.
  • tall and 3 feet wide, with marbled, wrinkled, tooth-edged leaves.
  • Lilac, 1- to 112 inches flowers with a white eye.
  • Buxtons Variety' has pure blue flowers with a large white eye and striking black stamens.

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