Monday, July 2, 2012

Geranium Palmatum

View of South Terrace with Geranium palmatum in front of blue wall

View of west terrace from lioness sculpture

View from west terrace toward lioness with plantings in front of blue wall
      I have always wished we could grow Geranium maderense in our climate, because it has, in my opinion, the most spectacular flowers of any geranium.  I remember visiting a geranium specialist nursery in the San Francisco area many years ago and having the owner tell us what a nuisance Geranium maderense was there.  I would like to have such a nuisance, but sadly, G. maderense is a biennial which needs to winter over to bloom and in our climate it usually does not survive the winter.  So, if we can't have G. maderense, the next best thing is Geranium palmatum.  Both of these plants hail from Madeira and the Canary Islands and they are related to that weed sometimes called Herb Robert or Geranium robertianum, which I am always having to weed from my garden.
     I got plants of Geranium palmatum many years ago from a now defunct mail order nursery in Ohio and, although they are generally biennial, I have had them in my garden ever since because they mildly seed themselves about.  They are not in the class with Herb Robert however when it comes to self seeding.
     The big pink mass you see in the pictures, which is in front of my blue wall,  is created by about four plants of Geranium palmatum.  These were plants which seeded themselves last fall in various places in the garden and which I then transplanted this spring to their place in front of the blue wall.  These plants were tiny at the time I transplanted them, but they get very large very quickly and so you have to take that into account when you place them.  When they are first placed, they look ridiculously  small for their location, but never fear, they will fill out and smother anything in their way.
     The foliage of Geranium palmatum is very nice before it blooms and it would make a good foliage plant if it never did anything else.  However, it does eventually bloom and when it does, the foliage rapidly goes downhill.  You can see this starting to happen in the bottom picture where some of the foliage in the skirt of one of the G. palmatums is getting brown.  Basically, after the plant blooms, it looks bad and although sometimes it survives after blooming, the best course of action is to take the plants out after blooming.  If you have allowed it to self sow, you will have new plants coming up, usually near the mother plants. 
     These geraniums are very versatile plants, growing in full sun or in dry shade.  Like most plants they appreciate good soil and moisture, but they can do without either.  The only thing that presents a problem to them is deer, which love them.  Sometimes a deer gets inside my fenced in garden and the first thing they head for is the Geranium palmatum.
     You can see in the second picture above, in addition to the Geranium palmatum, that Tropaeolum polyphyllum, which I previously wrote about, is still blooming and it has many unopened blossoms on it.  I expect it will bloom for at least another month which makes it a very long blooming plant indeed.  You can also see the bright orange red Alstroemeria in the picture which I recently had a post about. In the third picture, you can see Lobelia tupa starting to bloom beside the Geranium palmatums.  I will be having a post on that plant in the future.


  1. Hi Linda, any chance of getting some seeds of this. I have a friend who is nuts about this plant. I had not heard of it until she emailed friends asking about a source as she had lost hers to her local deer population. It was right after her request that I found your blog and it was featuring this Geranium. I have to admit it is very nice. I did kid my friend about it looking like stinky bob on steroids...until I saw how effectively you used it in your garden.

    1. Hi Mary- I don't try to collect seed of this because you have to catch it at the right moment before it pops which is what these geraniums do. However, if you google Geranium palmatum seeds you will find that Plant World has them and I have found them to be a good source of seeds. Linda

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Hi Linda, Thanks for your response and I will pass on the seed source to my friend. I have really been enjoying your blogs! As always I love your taste in plants. Cheers

      July 12, 2012 9:18 PM