Wild Geranium: Wildflower Wednesday

– Posted in: Native/Invasive
8 comments

At our old house, wild geraniums (Geranium maculatum) grew every place the lawn mower left alone. Or at least it seemed that way.

wild geraniums spring-blooming native plant

Wild geraniums carpet the forest floor.

It was always a pleasure to see them carpeting the woods in mid-May, but I certainly didn’t check daily on their progress, as I did with my carefully collected and cultivated trilliums. Then we moved.
wild geranium, a spring-blooming native plant

These are a deeper pink than is typical.


Here, at the new place, Jack-in-the-pulpits seem to spring up everywhere! I could never get them to grow in the woods at the old place, though they did grow in the garden. But–you guessed it–no wild geraniums anywhere! How can this be? They are so easy, so common, and I even see them growing in the ditch further down the road.
wild geranium, a spring-bloomer native to the U.S.

These grow in the secret garden at the old house.

I decided to remedy this situation. Recently I went back to the old place (which we still own) and dug a clump. I divided that one clump into bits. The roots are rhizome-like and it is fairly easy to make divisions. I planted them in several semi-shaded moist areas in our woods. Hopefully at least some of them will “take.”
Wild geranium, a spring-bloomer native to the U.S.

They will also grow at the edge of fields near the woods, if it is moist.

I suppose because they were so common at our former home I never tried to grow them in my garden beds. I did buy a white-flowered form at some point but it dwindled away and died on me. Last year a gardening friend gave me a start of ‘Espresso,’ which is a dark-leaved selection.
'Espresso' wild geranium is a darker leaved form of this spring-blooming native plant.

‘Espresso’ wild geranium. It is darker in images I’ve seen. Not sure if it needs less sun or more to bring out the color.

That, I am happy to report, is doing well. Previous to that, I was sold a plant labeled ‘Espresso’ but it bloomed with blue flowers, not pink. I suspect it is Geranium pratense ‘Midnight Reiter’ but I have seen that described as a dwarf and what I have seems to be a typical geranium size.

I suspect this plant would be happy any place hostas are happy. Around here, wild geranium blooms before the hostas are fully up, so it would add interest and a bit of color before the hostas hit their stride. Good luck finding the common form for sale, however. You’ll probably have to search out a nursery that specializes in native plants.

Wild geranium, a spring-bloomer native to the U.S.

The humble wild geranium is worth searching out and planting.

Posted for Wildflower Wednesday, created by Gail of Clay and Limestone, to share wildflowers/native plants no matter where you garden in the blogasphere. “It doesn’t matter if we sometimes show the same plants. How they grow and thrive in your garden is what matters most. It’s always the fourth Wednesday of the month!”

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

Only I, who live in the tropic of fancy, could be under the apocalypse of snow and ice that is Iowa and not admit that winter really exists.

~Anne in Tender Dirt

8 Comments… add one

Cass Chapman June 8, 2014, 10:34 am

Here in the Twin Cities, Outback Nursery is an absolutely fabulous source for natives. I got my wild geranium there along with a part-shade white honeysuckle, and can’t wait to go back for more!

Frank June 1, 2014, 8:09 pm

Beautiful shots. I always love a wildflower which really digs in and forms a sheet of bloom. I hope your transplants take off!

Donna@GardensEyeView May 31, 2014, 2:11 pm

Kathy this is a new favorite plant of mine. And I finally had success with the dozen I planted around. I cannot wait to see them take over as a wonderful groundcover.

Diana Studer May 31, 2014, 5:21 am

Good to see your spring has sprung at last!

Kathy Sturr of the Violet Fern May 29, 2014, 8:48 am

I love geraniums and plant them throughout my garden – though I have yet to plant the true wild geranium. I have Espresso but I believe it is buried under the Cutleaf Coneflowers … I need to relocate it! I just planted some Wild Geranium for a garden in town. I can’t wait to see it skirt the tree it is planted under. I think wild geraniums and cranesbill geraniums are under appreciated! They are work horses in the garden and oh, their fall color is wonderful.

Mel Bellar May 29, 2014, 6:22 am

Hey Kathy,

We met at your talk at the Franklin Garden Club Lecture. I have never seen the Geranium maculatum in the wild. What is up with that! I purchased a number of them at the Catskill Native Nursery and planted them at an all native garden I created for a client and they are doing well but have not spread a lot. I have the expresso variety in the full-sun area of my garden and they do really well with very dark leaves but they do really suffer by July and I have to cut them back.

Grace Peterson May 28, 2014, 6:43 pm

The genus Geranium is my current obsession. I love them all. I have yet to acquire ‘Espresso’ but it’s on my wish list. Even the tiny, “weedy” species is welcome in my garden.

Gail May 28, 2014, 9:03 am

Wonderful post on this marvelous native! My ‘Espresso’ seems to fade as the season progresses, but, it’s such a treat when it flowers. Happy WW! xo

Leave a Comment


six + 6 =