Cranesbill geranium is not the same as the geranium typically thought of when you hear the name "geranium". While it is related, what is commonly called a geranium is more accurately called pelargonium. Cranesbill is actually Geranium sanguineum. The care of Cranesbill is different than other geranium care.
The hardy Cranesbill are usually stout perennials and natives of the fields and woods of Europe and Britain, though some are dainty alpine flowers. It grows from nine inches to over four feet tall, flowering in midsummer abundantly and sometimes until late in autumn to a lesser degree.
Its flowers are large and handsome ranging in color from blue and maroon to pink or white. It requires only ordinary garden soil, and is well suited for the mixed border, or for grouping with the finer perennials in beds or on the margins of shrubberies.
Types of Cranesbill
There are some 422 species of Cranesbill. Some kinds are very showy, and the best of these are:
- Dwarf G. sanguineum--its beautiful Lancashire variety, with rose-colored blossoms finely marked with dark lines
- G. pratense--a tall kind, with large purple flowers, and its pure white variety. There is also an intermediate form with white and purple flowers.
- G. gymnocaulon and G. ibericum--beautiful, with their rich purple blossoms, 2 inches across, delicately pencilled with black.
- G. platypetalum, striatum, ibericum, and Lamberti--suited for shrubbery borders, and most of them are free and vigorous enough for naturalization.
- G. Endressi, with light rose-colored blossoms, is also very attractive. Much the handsomest of the flowered sorts is the foot-high G. grandiflorum, which everybody should grow.
Pretty rock garden kinds include:
- G. cinereum
- G. argenteum--both alpine plants and, unlike stout perennials, they must be associated with very dwarf rock plants.
Cransebill geraniums thrive in nearly any soil, although they do not like to be soggy. All the Cranesbill geraniums are increased by seed, and with the exception perhaps of the G. cinereum, and G. argenteum, all are freely multiplied by division.They are winter hardy are grow successfully in garden zones 3 through 8. They are happy in full sun to partial shade. Some varieties even prefer full shade.
In the fall when flowering ends, cut back your Cranesbill. You will enjoy beautiful new growth the following spring, and with it new flowers.
Uses for Cranesbill
Not only is Cranesbill a hardy, beautiful flower but it is also thought to have healing properties. When the plant first flowers it is believed that the roots have the strongest medicinal value.
Roots and the whole plant have antiseptic qualities. Infusions have been used to treat diarrhea, irritable bowel and various other complaints. Consult a knowledgeable herbalist before consuming this plant.