Perry's Perennial Pages -- 2001 Research Update

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 ( 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.
species Cultivar habit hxw leaf bloom flw color notes
phaeum album u 30x36 5 5/20 white  
himalayense Baby Blue m 18x24 4 5/27 light blue  
sylvaticum Baker's Pink u 30x24 6 5/27 pink  
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 Lily Lovell u 20x20 6 5/27 purple  
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
regelli   m 12x18 3 5/27 light blue  

Copyright 2001, not for publication without permission from author.

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