Gardening Magazine

Plant of the Week: Geranium Macrorrhizum

By Davis Landscape Architecture @DavisLandArch
Geranium macrorrhizum flower (26/05/2011, Prague)

Geranium macrorrhizum flower (26/05/2011, Prague)

Position:  Will flourish in full sun to shade.

Soil: Moist and well drained.

Flowering period: Early summer.

Eventual Height: 40cm

Eventual Spread:  60cm

Hardiness: USDA Zone 4a-8b

Family: Geraniaceae

Geranium macrorrhizum is an semi-evergreen perennial with a carpet forming habit. Its foliage is slightly velvety and forms a dense mat of rounded, deeply cut aromatic leaves. It has thick and fleshy rhizomes and these creep when they reach the surface. From May to September it bears magenta hermaphrodite flowers. Some of the leaves of this plant turn red in autumn.

G. macrorrhizum, commonly known as Balkan Cranesbill, is native to southern Europe. It was first cultivated for its essential oils and continues to be grown commercially as a garden plant. In Bulgaria this plant is widely grown as a cultural symbol associated with health and good luck.

Geranium is derived from the Greek geranos, meaning ‘crane’; referring to the beak-like fruit. Macrorrhizum being derived from the Latin meaning ‘large root’

Geranium macrorrhizum (26/05/2011, Prague)

Geranium macrorrhizum (26/05/2011, Prague)

This plant may be useful to the landscape architect as an effective semi-evergreen ground cover and is effective in suppressing weeds. It is also tolerant of dry, shady locations and will tolerate periods of drought. G. macrorrhizum ‘Album’ is an attractice white flowering variety of this plant. This plant is not eaten by deers or rabbits.

This plant will tolerate almost any soil conditions; it will be happy in acid, neutral or alkaline pH levels, in loam, sand, clay or chalk in a sheltered or exposed location facing any aspect.

Ecologically this plant will attract many pollinating insects such as honey bees.

The Royal Horticultural Society have given the cultivar G. Macrorrhizum ‘album’, ‘Ingwersen’s Variety’ and ‘Bevan’s Variety’  their prestigious Award of Garden Merit.

Maintenance: Little maintenance required. Flowered shoots and old stems may be removed to encourage new growth. This plant may be divided in spring.

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