Cranesbill Geranium (Geranium)

Quick facts and care essentials

• Zones vary
• Full sun or partial shade; must have afternoon shade in hot-summer climates
• Regular watering

Not to be confused with common garden geranium (Pelargonium,) the cranesbills include spreading, mounding, and upright plants that make beautiful additions to the summer garden.

Flowers are five petaled, often in shades of rose, blue, and purple; a few varieties have pure pink or white blooms. Beaklike fruits follow the flowers, hence the common name "cranesbill." Leaves are roundish or kidney shaped, shallowly or deeply lobed.

One excellent choice is G. endressii (Zones 1-9, 14-24, 31-43), a 1- to 1 1/2 footer that blooms from late spring to fall (to early summer in hotter regions); its variety 'Wargrave Pink', with salmon pink blooms, is most widely grown. Also popular is G. sanguineum (Zones 1-9, 14-24, 30-43), a spreading, trailing plant to 11/2 feet high, 2 feet across, with deep purple blooms from late spring into summer.

Cranesbills grow best in cool- and mild-summer regions, where they will tolerate full sun or light shade. Where summers are hot, provide afternoon shade. Give moist, well-drained soil. Clumps can be left in place for many years before blooming declines due to crowding; when this happens, divide in early spring.