Geranium Macrorrhizum

Geranium macrorrhizum in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Geranium macrorrhizum in Spring (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

Picture yourself walking along a path, it’s warm and your legs are bare.  Soft leaves tickle your legs, emitting a subtle spicy-minty scent, very pleasant and soothing. For a moment, you almost feel as though you could curl up in this patch and take a nap.  No worry, you’re not in a poppy field under a witch’s spell, rather you’re walking amidst Geranium macrorrhizum. . . 

Even bees can't resist geranium's lovely blooms in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Even bees can’t resist geranium’s lovely blooms (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

And, just what is this alluring plant?  Commonly known as bigroot cranesbill, Geranium macrorrhizum is a plant any gardener in zones 4-8, sun or shade, should get to know. It quickly became a longtime favorite of mine after seeing it planted along a pathway at a friends garden almost twenty years ago. To this day, I have never regretted making macrorrhizum’s acquaintance!

Geranium Macrorrhizuu in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Geranium Macrorrhizum in fall bed (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

Geranium macrorrhizum is the trooper of ground cover plants; one that rates A+++ in my book.  Due to its rhizomatous root system, the Southern European native tolerates more sun and drought conditions than most of its cousins.  It will be a little happier with some afternoon shade, but I don’t have any and it has adapted quite nicely with just a little wilting under the hottest conditions.  Geranium macrorrhizum ‘Ingwersen’s Variety’ produces masses of pale pink flowers (deeper pink for ‘Bevan’s Variety’) in spring that may last until early July.

**If you enjoy pink blossoms, try GOT PINK and PHLOX THAT ROCK **

Geranium Mac's abundant spring flowers in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Geranium Mac’s abundant spring flowers (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

The foliage is five fingered, medium green, with a misty blue cast due to the slightly fuzzy texture. Each individual plant can grow to 12″ tall by 2′ wide, but after a few years it has spread over vast sections of my gardens without any coaching.  And I’m thrilled by this traveling nature, as it works to hold moisture in the soil, keep the soil cooler, prevent weeds and adds pleasing, non-competitive balance to the other plantings.  In one garden it has surrounded an heirloom rose, in another it has grown to fill a void in an old birds nest spruce that lost a branch from a freak snow storm.  It easily creates an edge or filler with no effort on your part at all.

Geranium Macrorrhizum in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Geranium Macrorrhizum’s red fall color (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

Did I mention the scent?  I adore it, and it holds even now as the leaves are starting to fold and give in to winter.  Before the leaves melt away, they turn lovely shades of red, which have lasted through the winter during milder years.  Touchable, fragrant, trouble and maintenance free, while helping to keep deer and other critters away; what a wonderful plant! Consider adding macrorrhizum to your “must have” list next year, you’ll be glad you did.

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