Spring Perennial Geraniums
Leonard P Perry, PhD, Extension Professor, University of Vermont
Each year I may have around 1500 or more different perennials on trial, and depending on year may have special interest in certain groups or genera. Among the several genera I’m currently comparing, I have begun working on a collection of potentially hardy perennial geraniums and at present have about 100 different cultivars on trial. The plan is to make observations on their survival, growth, and garden potential in a zone 4 Vermont climate.
With the relatively mild winter and good snow cover this past winter, many of last year’s additions which I thought might be marginal survived. And blooms began as early as the third week of May this year, with those that bloomed the end of May listed below. You may consider some of these for early season perennials and landscapes.
As you can see I like the species phaeum, named Mourning Widow for the dark small flowers of the species hanging down as a widow in mourning. And all my favorites were in this species. For upright, I liked ‘Lily Lovell’. For shorter mound effect, ‘Little Boy’ is a great choice. ‘Samobar’ is one of the most popular of this species, with its distinctive reddish markings on leaves, more so than many other geraniums. For unusual colors, long bloom and nice habit I like ‘Mierhausen’, ‘Stillingfleet Ghost’, ‘Langthorns Blue’, and the especially dark-flowered ‘Chocolate Chip.’
In the table below, habit refers to mounded (m) or upright (u). Occasionally plants may begin upright, and by end of bloom fall over into a more open, spreading habit. Height and width (hxw) is given in inches and is at time of initial bloom. Sometimes plants may continue growing and be 25-50% larger by end of bloom. "Leaf" refers to width of average mature leaves. Bloom date is week of 25% of first blooms open. Flower color is only approximate, with RHS color numbers being gathered through the season. Watch for further details and photos on these and other selections, this year and the next few years, on my Perry’s Perennial Pages (http://www.uvm.edu/~pass/perry/). Several years of data are planned in order to determine which may be truly hardy, reliable and consistent performers in our climate with all its recent extremes and variability.
Spring, early summer perennial geraniums, 2001.
|himalayense||Baby Blue||m||18x24||4||5/27||light blue|
|phaeum||Chocolate Chip||m||20x20||5||5/27||dark purple||great dark flw. color|
|phaeum||Langthorns Blue||m||12x24||5||5/27||light purple||dark veins in fls, dark leaf marks|
|sylvaticum||Lilac Time||u||16x12||3||5/20||pink purple||open, poor habit|
|phaeum||Little Boy||m||15x20||3||5/27||dark red purple||faint red marks in leaves, compact mound|
|phaeum var.||lividum 'Stillingfleet Ghost'||u||16x24||6||5/27||white purple||compact|
|phaeum||Mierhausen||u||30x30||4||5/20||light purple||open, tall, many fls early, dark circles inside fls|
|monacense||Muldoon||m||18x30||4||5/27||red purple||dark marks at base of leaf serrations|
|phaeum||Samobar||u||16x16||3||5/27||red purple||red marked leaves|
|phaeum||Taff's Jester||u||18x18||4||5/27||dark purple||leaves variegated as virus, 3 main sections|
|renardii||White Knights||m||12x18||2||5/27||lilac||thick, rounded leaves, large flowers|
|monacense||m||16x24||5||5/27||red purple||dark marks at base of leaf serrations|
|reflexum||u||20x18||3||5/27||dark pink||leaves red marked, 3 divisions, reflexed petals, open|
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