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Geum - Care Guide
Caring for Geum
These are attractive clump forming perennials which are just as easy to grow and just as attractive as most herbaceous geraniums. The botanical interpretation and origin of the two key species from which many of the best known Geum varieties are grown today is however complex and confusing. G. chiloense originates in Chile and G. coccineum in Greece and the Adriatic coast. Hybrids of G. chiloense have more branched flowering stems than those of G. coccineum but this is where the naming gets confusing. G. coccineum is also known as G. x borisii of gardens and G. chiloense is also a synonym of G. coccineum of gardens. In other words the botanists have no real certainty as to the exact origins of most Geum hybrids so let us not dwell on the confusion and stick to the cultivation of Geum which is easy!
Geum are fully hardy and grow best in fertile well drained soil in full sun. They make excellent border plants and are commonly used to edge or front a border. Avoid waterlogged soil which can cause basal rot in winter. Geum flower continuously through summer and on into autumn but they will flower even better if they are regularly dead headed.
G. ‘Lady Stratheden’ and G. ‘Mrs J Bradshaw’ will come true from seed but most Geum readily hybridise with themselves in the garden. A better method of propagation is to lift and divide the clumps either as they approach dormancy in late autumn or in early spring.
G. x borisii has upright, pinnate, soft hairy basal leaves of up to 8in long. The flower stems have cymes of two to four brick red flowers with prominent yellow stamens. G. ‘Lady Stratheden’ has semi-double rich yellow flowers that are a little taller in height than those of G. x borisii at 15-20in in height. G. ‘Mrs J Bradshaw’ has semi-double scarlet flowers in cymes of one to five flowers of a similar height.
G. ‘Lemon Drops’ and G. ‘Totally Tangerine’ are hybrids of G. rivulare and have flowers which are 10-12in in overall height. ‘Lemon Drops’ has flowers which are lemon-yellow and pendant at first. ‘Totally Tangerine’ has double orange flowers.
G. ‘Flames of Passion’ is a newer and extremely popular more recent introduction with dark red flowers which fade slightly.
Very few UK gardens are without a representative or two of these outstanding floriferous plants.