Gardening Magazine

Plant of the Week: Geranium Sanguineum

By Davis Landscape Architecture @DavisLandArch

Cransebill Flower (30/06/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Geranium sanguineum Flower (30/06/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Position: Full sun to dappled shade

Flowering period: Late spring to early autumn

Soil: Well drained, poor

Eventual Height: 20cm

Eventual Spread: 30cm

Hardiness: 3a – 9a

Family: Geraniaceae

Geranium sanguineum is a a deciduous herbaceous perennial. Its mid green leaves are peltate with up to 7 deeply lobed leaflets and are up to 3cm across. Its leave turn orange/ red before falling in autumn. Its purple flowers have five petals and are up to 4cm across. Its fruit is a capsule which contains five achenes. Its roots are thick rhizomes.

Geranium sanguineum, commonly known as the Bloody Canesbill, Blood-red Cranesbill or Bloody Geranium, is native to much of Europe (including the UK) and south west Asia. In its native habitat it is found in deciduous forests, woodland margins and arid grasslands. It is the county flower of Northumberland, UK

The etymological root of the binomial name Geranium is  derived from the Greek geranos ’a crane’, the fruit of the plant resembling the head and beak of the bird, hence the common name for this genus Cranesbill . Sanguineum is from the Latin meaning ‘bloody’, in reference to the colour if this plant’s leaves in autumn.

Cranesbill (30/06/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Geranium sanguineum (30/06/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

The landscape architect may find Geranium sanguineum useful as an effective low growing ground cover. Once established this plant is drought tolerant.

Ecologically, G. sanguineum is attractive to pollinating insects.

The Royal Horticultural Society has given a number of G. sanguineum cultivars their prestigious Award of Garden Merit.

G. sanguineum prefers moist, poor, well-drained soils. It prefers a neutral to alkali pH of soil.

Geranium sanguineum requires little maintenance. Large clumps of this plant may be divided in spring.

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