January 23, 2019

Plant of the Month: Wild Geranium

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It's Wildflower Wednesday, and I like to combine my "plant of the month" posts with Gail's meme over at Clay and Limestone. Check it out!

snow

We just got about a foot of snow from two snowstorms in close succession. Normal for us in January, but obviously this means that no wildflowers are blooming in my garden.

geranium 5

Ah, that's better! So, I decided to think spring--in this case late spring. Wild Geraniums (G. maculatum) bloom in my garden from mid-May through early June. I've covered so many "plants of the month" and wildflowers over the years, and I was surprised to find I hadn't done a post on Wild Geraniums until now.

I was even more surprised to find how few photos I have of this plant, considering it's so prevalent in the area and in my garden. It likes the conditions here--described perfectly by Illinois Wildflowers: "light shade to partial sunlight, moist to slightly dry conditions, and rich loamy soil with abundant organic matter." Yes, that pretty much describes my garden. I will have to photograph this plant more this spring!

In the photo above, you'll notice the 10 stamens surrounding the five-chambered carpel/pistil with a five-parted stigma. Each flower has five petals, which vary in color from nearly white to pink and purple--although most are light lavender.

geranium 2

Wild Geranium is native to much of Eastern North America, in USDA zones 3-8, and it tolerates a broad range of conditions, beyond its preferred habitat. Also called Cranesbill and Spotted Cranesbill, its foliage persists throughout the growing season and turns beautiful variegated shades of rust and burgundy in the autumn. The deeply lobed foliage forms a mound, which creates a pleasant groundcover. This plant can often be found growing near Smooth Solomon's Seal (Polygonatum biflorum) and other woodland and woodland-edge plants.

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In this photo, you can see the seed capsules that form after the flowers fade. When mature, they burst to scatter seeds beyond the mother plant. It also spreads by rhizomes, although it's not aggressive.

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Wild Geranium is listed as providing special value for native bees by the Xerces Society. I just discovered, through the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center that the seeds attract mourning doves, bobwhite quail, and white-tailed deer. How cool is that?! (Do you know the name of the insect on the flower in this photo? I think it may be a snout beetle or a weevil of some sort.)

Head on over to Gail's Wildflower Wednesday meme to learn about wildflowers that bloom around the world.

30 comments:

  1. It's a lovely wildflower and one that's happy in my garden, too. Isn't it remarkable when they burst their ripe seeds away from them!

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    1. Yes, it is, Gail! I really like the foliage, too. I think I must take this plant for granted: I can't believe I haven't posted about it specifically until now. Thanks, again, for hosting Wildflower Wednesday!

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  2. This is a beauty. I have a couple of geraniums in my garden but not this one. One i should have! I will have to add it this year. I love all the geraniums. I think we are in the same weather pattern. We had snow twice this past few days but not near as much as you. Thank goodness.

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    1. It actually grows wild here, Lisa, and I never planted it. I've so rarely photographed it, which is really weird. I will have to rectify that this next growing season. We didn't have the earlier snows, so this is our first taste of true winter this year--and now it's going to get polar cold. Blech.

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  3. Those finely divided leaves are delightful.
    Flowers similar to our G. incanum

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    1. Yes, the foliage is great! G. incanum is gorgeous. I remember seeing it in California, and I think some was planted at Kew Gardens in London. It's a little brighter and has more intense color than our G. maculatum. Both are awesome, though.

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  4. I love the true geraniums and grew a lot of them in my former garden but unfortunately they're not as happy in my current garden, except for G. incanum which is effectively a weed here. Your wild variety is a beautiful thing and reminds me a lot of Oenothera speciosa, which does grow here.

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    1. That's what I thought, too! Much smaller, of course, but same flower type.

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  5. We have many of the wild geraniums in the Blue Hills in Rusk County where we do a lot of hiking. They are beautiful.

    Enjoy your snow .. we have none at all. Can you believe it!

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    1. Hi Carla: It's so common throughout the state--I think I take it for granted. I'm glad you finally got a little snow before the arctic blast really sets in next week. Stay warm!

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  6. How absolutely lovely! I do have a native version of that, but not nearly so gorgeous. I'll see if I can find one here.

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    1. Thanks, Linda. It's really prevalent around here. Geraniums of all types are lovely. The hybrids are nice for garden settings, too.

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  7. I wish mine would form a healthier stand, mine are few and far between. I love it when they are blooming, such delicate blooms.

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    1. Delicate is a good way to describe them--they add pretty patches of that faded blue/violet around the garden. Actually, the foliage is quite nice, too, and much more persistent. I need to take more photos of all stages of this plant.

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  8. Delicate flowers and a nice color are certainly the pride of the garden. They're wild growing, so it's nice to see them at home. Greetings.

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    1. Yes, they are very happy here. I think they are overshadowed by all the other amazing blooms in late spring. But they are lovely and the foliage is nifty, too.

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  9. Such a sweet plant. Hope it's enjoying it's rest under your beautiful blanket of snow!

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    1. Hi Peter: It is a tough plant! It will be fine through the coldest days, which totally amazes me! How do they do that?!

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  10. So lovely! We have some teeny tiny geraniums in our garden that come back year after year (planted by the previous owner). The blooms are probably only 1/2" across. I'm not sure if they are wild geraniums or not but I just adore them!

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    1. These flowers are not large either--like 1 to 1.5 inches across. I guess I haven't posted about them much because they kind of get overshadowed by all the other blooms in late May and early June...it all happens at once! I didn't plant any of the ones here, either--they grow wild in the woods and creep into the garden, which is awesome!

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  11. oops ... this may be a second comment, the first one slipped away :)
    Neat to find these photos, as I just "met" Geranium maculatum last week, while tagging Biodiversity Heritage Library images (doesn't grow here): https://www.flickr.com/photos/biodivlibrary/7248374386/in/photolist-c3vPbb-abuzmJ-dt21Cp-MYwR3i

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    1. Hi Hollis: I only found this comment. Thanks for your persistence and sharing! G. maculatum is so prevalent here...I think some folks don't like it because of that, but I love it. I need to spend more time photographing it this next growing season. Thanks for the link.

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  12. This is a wonderful plant and should be much more frequently in place of the exotic hardy Geranium cultivars (though I like some of those too).

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    1. I like it, too, and I agree the hybrids are nice, as well. The shades of blue are really special, and the plants are very reliable from year to year.

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  13. Beautiful!
    I am sorry to say, I forgot all about Wildflower Wednesday. Hope I can remember to join in next month.
    We have had a very pleasant day here in north MS - 57 degrees! But Tuesday's high is predicted to be only 34.
    Hope you have a great week!

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    1. Sounds like crazy weather for all of us this winter. We went from -27F for a low to +41F in just 3 days! It was 45F here today, and now we'll be on a roller-coaster ride again for the next couple of weeks. Spring is just around the corner, though.

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  14. Such a sweet, cheery little thing to see (in photo form) during winter. We have a silimar little native geranium here in Central Texas and I've just seen its foliage recently, so the blooms will show up in March/April. Stay warm!

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    1. Nice. I suppose I'm a bit presumptuous to post about springy things this time of the year, but I'm feeling the need to look beyond the cold weather. ;-)

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