Geranium macrorrhizum 'Bevan's Variety'
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Item #: 2376
Zones: 3a to 8b
Height: 10" tall
Origin: Southeast Europe
This very showy selection of the handsome perennial G. macrorrhizum clan blooms in early spring and sporadically throughout the summer. G. 'Bevan's Variety' sports intense red-violet flowers held above the large, and interestingly fragrant felty foliage. Best in partial shade, the mound of large foliage is would be a good choice to underplant a hedgerow or small tree. In areas with cool summer, G. macrorrhizum will spread above ground making a great groundcover...in hot areas, spreading slows to a crawl.
Geranium macrorrhizum belongs in every shade garden with the possible exception of a soggy one. And yes this species and a few other species of Geraniums prefer shade and not sun. Indeed this quite indestructible species will not persist in a full sun location in a hot summer area. However it will be a welcome, year-round and permanent presence in a shade garden. The handsome foliage is evergreen and covers the ground. Winter interest is provided by the small percentage of the oldest leaves which slowly turn bright yellow and red over many weeks. Yet, always there are enough green leaves to carpet the ground year round. The slightly sticky, pine-scented foliage is rarely, if ever, eaten by rabbits and deer, even though they do graze other Geraniums.
Geranium macrorrhizum can be used as a ground cover, but the gardener will have to help it spread for it doesn't spread much on its own. Dig up a clump or part of a clump and divide into individual stems. Each stem with rhizome will have few to no actual roots and look most unpromising, but experience has taught us that every piece will readily establish and grow on once replanted. The above ground stem and the underground rhizome are extensions of each other and the division can be planted deeper. Plant so that the soil comes up to the terminal rosette of foliage. Long pieces of rhizomes can be cut into shorter pieces and replanted. Rhizomes are underground stems. Stems have buds, so these rhizome pieces will produce both new shoots and roots. Division can be done anytime of the year, provided they are indeed being grown in a shade garden and they are watered while re-establishing. Old clumps are likely to benefit from division.
The only maintenance Geranium macrorrhizum requires, and this only for the benefit of the tidy gardener and not the plant, is to remove the spent flower stalks once their bloom period is over.
There are a number of cultivars of Geranium macrorrhizum which differ in flower color. Geranium x cantabrigiense is a hybrid between G. macrorrhizum and G. dalmaticum and is an equally worthwhile addition to a shade garden.