Search This Blog

Monday, May 13, 2013

Geums, From the Rose Family to you minus the thorns

A perennial that I first encountered as a tough native in my yard, Geum macrophyllum, also known as Avens,  impressed me with its vigor, self-sowing around and coming up in beds here and there, but not taking over like some weeds.  Geums make a basal rosette, which can be evergreen in mild climates, from which tall stalks with flowers arise.  After the flowers comes a seed head with little hooks to catch a ride.

At first I resisted the  cultivars that had been developed from the ~50 Geum species, but the neat rosettes of leaves and the frilly bright flowers that have been developed from them wore me down.
My first cultivated Geums were grown from seed, the bright red double Mrs. Bradshaw-

This is my present Geum border, just getting started opening blooms, the seed-grown varieties are taller and have larger sized blooms and therefore more visual impact than the varieties sold as plants-

 I also experimented with Geum urbanum from seed, which has edible and medicinal uses, and makes a substantial tall clump, but has smaller and lighter yellow flowers than Geum macrophyllum-

Then I grew a couple more from seed that were even more double, which are blooming for the first time this year, the red double frilly Blazing Sunset,

And double frilly yellow Lady Stratheden-

I'm finding an explosion of Geum varieties in nurseries lately, some of these have neatly rounded leaves more appealing than the species.  Last year I finally succumbed to Cooky,

Queen of Orange

Mango Lassi which has delicate shading on the edges of the petals-

And this year, Totally Tangerine-

This year I have seen a darker red, not as bright and with smaller flowers, Flames of Passion, and  a gorgeous plant with astounding numbers of bloom stalks that trailed so had a hanging basket kind of look, the yellow buds opening to a delightful peachy pink with coral highlights, Mai Tai.

There is another native North American species with an interesting seed head like a puff of pinkish smoke, Geum triflorum, Prairie Smoke, which I haven't grown as yet.

I've had a little trouble with deer nibbling the bright red flowers but it is rather hit or miss.  My new bed is behind fencing.

So if you want a perennial that seems to have some staying power, and will brighten up your garden, try a Geum.  They do like cooler summers, or more shade in hotter climates.



  1. What a lot of great colorful Geums you have. I have the plain yellow native, and many times I've come in from the garden with its seeds stuck in my hair! I'm going to look for that one called Totally Tangerine.

  2. I got it at Shorty's. The flower size is similar to Cookie and Queen of Orange, smaller than the seed-grown ones. The named varieties have much nicer foliage though, rounded leaves that make a nice clump. I looked it up on google to see what the parentage was and it didn't say but said it was sterile and the most heavily blooming of the Geums, also has burgundy fall foliage, so I am happy with it. It is new so doesn't have as many flowers yet as the others that were purchased last year.

  3. Hannah, remind me and I will send you Monarda seeds in late summer. I`m sure they would work there and I have so many plants , this seeds really is prolific.

  4. Great, Randy, perhaps we can do a seed trade.