University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Perennial of the Month - July 2000

Geranium phaeum
Geranium phaeum

(ger-aa' nee-um fay'um)

Common name: Mourning Widow Perennial Geranium

Family: Geranium, Geraniaceae

Height x width: 18-24" x 12"

Growth rate: moderate

Foliage: generally circular outline with lobes, 1-2" wide, scattered hairs often on leaves and flower stems, turning reddish with frost,

Flowers: dark maroon of species in early summer suggest a "mourning widow", pistil and stamens are exserted; 1-1½" wide with 5 petals, single on axillary peduncles; may rebloom late in season; flower color varies to white and blue and shades of purple, depending on cultivar

Hardiness: USDA zones 3-5 depending on cultivar

Soil: moist, organic and well-drained

Light: sun in cool climates, part shade in hot climates

Pests and problems: seldom-- leaf spots, rusts, powdery mildew, mosaic virus, Asiatic garden beetle, four-lined plant bug

Landscape habit, uses: borders, rock garden, containers

Other interest: native to moist areas of Europe, although thick roots allow survival in drought; genus name from Greek word for crane, referring to the resemblance of the beaked fruit to a crane's bill or beak

Other culture: especially in hot climates moist soil is needed

Propagation: tip cuttings, division, seeds

Sources: specialty perennial nurseries and plant-oriented garden centers; Geraniaceae

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