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How to Grow Geum

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Geum is a perennial grown for its brightly colored globular or cup-shaped flowers in shades of white, yellow, red, and orange. They are a vibrant addition to the front of an herbaceous border or large rock garden.

Geum blooms throughout the summer. Flowers can be single, semi-double, or double. Blooms appear above handsome foliage, leaves divided into many leaflets.

Geum is evergreen except in the coldest winters. Geums are sometimes called avens. Geum is a member of the rose family.

Water avens, Geum rivale
Water avens, Geum rivale

Get to know Geum

  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 4 to 8
  • Hardiness: Hardy except in the coldest winters
  • Height and width: 6 to 24 inches (15-61cm) tall and wide depending on the variety
  • Foliage: Informal rosettes of softly hairy, strap-shaped leaves that are divided to their midribs
  • Flowers: Small saucer- to bowl-shaped flowers commonly with five petals; flowers are carried singly or in small clusters.
  • Flower colors: Shades of orange, red, yellow, cream, and pink
  • Bloom time: Late spring to early summer
  • Uses: Borders, cut flowers
  • Common name: Geum, avens
  • Botanical name: Geum
  • Family name: Rosaceae
  • Origin: Temperare regions of Europe, Asia, New Zealand, North and South America

Where to plant Geum

  • Plant Geum in full sun or part shade; afternoon shade is best where summers are hot.
  • Grow Geum in average to rich, evenly moist, well-drained soil.
  • Geum rivale prefers moist or even boggy soil.
  • Geum prefers a soil pH of 5.5 to 7.0.

When to plant Geum

  • Sow seed indoors or in a cold frame in late winter or early spring for transplanting into the garden in mid to late spring.
  • Sow seed outdoors in evenly prepared soil after the last frost in spring.
  • Set container-grown plants in the garden after the last frost in spring.

Geum uses and companions

  • Grow smaller Geums in a rock garden; grow larger varieties at the front of borders.
  • Geum has an airy, see-through nature; they can be planted at the front of borders.
  • Geum combines well with blue and purple flowers.
  • Good garden companions for Geum include Alchemilla, Campanula, Hemerocallis, Hosta, Iris.
Orange avens flower, Geum coccineum
Orange avens flower, Geum coccineum

Planting and spacing Geum

  • Sow seed 1/8 to ¼ inch deep. Indoors sow seeds in six-pack or flats filled with sterile seed-starting mix or potting soil.
  • Space plants in the garden 6 to 24 inches (15-61cm) tall and wide depending on the variety.

How to water and feed Geum

  • Keep the soil evenly moist; water Geum in dry weather.
  • Lightly fertilize Geum in spring with an all-purpose fertilizer.

Geum care

  • Deadhead spent blossoms to extend the bloom season.

Geum pests and diseases

  • Geum is usually trouble free.

Geum propagation

  • Propagate by division in spring or fall. Divide plants every 2 to 3 years to keep them vigorous.
  • Sow seed in a cold frame in winter; transplant out in mid to late spring.
  • Geum seeds will germinate in 21 to 30 days at 68°F (20°C).
  • Seed-grown plants are not identical to asexually propagated ones.
Geum triflorum
Geum triflorum

Geum varieties to grow

  • Geum chiloense, geum, avens: Bright, single scarlet flowers up to 2 inches (5cm) across; clump-forming plant to 24 to 30 inches tall. There are several cultivars with yellow or orange flowers.
  • G. coccineum, geum, avens: Bright red, saucer-shaped, single flowers; the clump-forming plant grows to 24 inches (61cm) tall.
  • G. montanum: Grows 4 to 8 inches (10-20cm) tall with one to three bright yellow flowers.
  • G. rivale: water avens, Indian chocolate: Bears pendent, bell-shaped purple-pink and red-brown flowers; the plant grows 12 to 24 inches (30-61cm) tall.
  • G. triflorum: prairie smoke, purple avens: Creeping plant grows to 18 inches (45cm) tall with ferny gray-green leaves; bears flowers with creamy petals and long purple bracts followed by plumy silver seedpods.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. Harvesttotable.com has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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