Geranium phaeum
Common Name: hardy geranium
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Geraniaceae
Native Range: Southern and central Europe
Zone: 5 to 7
Height: 1.50 to 2.50 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: May to August
Bloom Description: Deep maroon purple
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Butterflies
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer

Culture

Easily grown in average, medium to wet, well-drained soil in part shade. Unlike most other species of geranium, this species performs best in shade including close to full shade conditions. Prefers moist, humusy, well-drained soils. Intolerant of the heat and humidity of the deep South. Foliage may decline in hot summer climates after flowering, at which point flowering stems can be removed and foliage trimmed both to shape and revitalize plants. If not deadheaded, some self-seeding may occur in ideal growing conditions.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Geranium phaeum is a tall, rhizomatous, clump-forming perennial with branching stems which typically grows 18-30" tall with a spread of 12-18". Features 5-petaled, deep maroon-purple flowers (to 1" diameter) with slightly reflexed petals and a lighter sometimes whitish center ring. Flowers bloom from late spring to early summer with sporadic rebloom throughout the summer. Flowers give way to cranesbill-like seed heads. Lobed, soft green leaves (basal leaves 4-8" across) are blotched with maroon at the base. This species is sometimes commonly called mourning widow in reference to the unusually dark (sometimes almost black) flower color. Native to woods and moist alpine meadows in Eurasia.

Genus name comes from the Greek word geranos meaning crane in reference to the fruit which purportedly resembles the head and beak of a crane.

Specific epithet means dusky.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

Woodland gardens, shade gardens, cottage gardens or wild gardens. Also in shady areas of borders.