Geranium Sanguineum Guide: How to Grow & Care for “Bloody Cranesbill”

Geranium sanguineum is the ideal choice for those looking for an adaptable, easy to look after, and long-blooming flower. Also known as Bloody Cranesbill, this beautiful plant puts on quite a colour show. Starting from June until fall, Geranium starts to produce magenta-purple flowers atop green leaves that turn crimson-red towards the end of the season. Some cultivars come in other colours as well, including pink, white, purples, and red.

We love the fact that this species is so adaptable that it can easily handle hot summers, as well as cold winters. They make great starting plants for beginner gardeners or people who want a beautiful garden but are time-poor or are not willing to put too much effort into it.

Native to Europe and temperate Asia, the typical habitat of this species is open woodland, sand dunes, grassland, and even rocky slopes. Shorter selections of Bloody Cranesbill can be an excellent choice for rock gardens, groundcovers, flowerbeds, or edging plants. They look great as part of a wildlife or cottage garden and can be grown beneath a light canopy. Geraniums can also be grown indoors in pots, window boxes, or hanging baskets where they provide a colourful flower display all year round.

This member of the cranesbill family Geraniaceae has become one of the most popular garden perennials worldwide, as it is so versatile and low-maintenance. In this article, you will find out everything there is to know about this eye-catching perennial, so keep on reading!

About Geranium Sanguineum

  • The name Geranium comes from the Greek word “géranos” meaning crane, regarding the shape of the fruit capsule which resembles the beak of a crane. The Latin name Sanguineum means blood red, with reference to the red colours of the leaves in fall.
  • There are approximately 700 varieties of geraniums, so there is no doubt that you will find one that is perfect for your garden. The top varieties recommended by the Royal Horticultural Society include Geranium Ann Folkard, Geranium Mavis Simpson, Geranium Rozanne, Geranium (Cinereum Group) Ballerina, and Geranium clarkei Kashmir White.
  • Bloody Cranesbill makes a great addition to wildlife, pollinator, or butterfly gardens. Its nectar attracts butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators. Moreover, it can resist predation from deer and rabbits.
  • Most members of the family Geraniaceae are considered toxic to pets including dogs, cats, and horses according to the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). It is also poisonous for people and not edible, so don’t allow any children and pets to consume it.
  • Although Bloody Cranesbill is not considered an invasive plant, it can spread beyond your garden borders if given the opportunity. Make sure to keep it in check and prune it if it gets out of hand.
Geranium sanguineum
Geranium sanguineum

Geranium Sanguineum Features: An Overview

  • Geranium Sanguineum normally grows to be between 8–20 inches (20 to 50 cm) high. It has a spread of approximately 8 inches (20 cm), but can reach 3 feet (90 cm), depending on variety, so keep that in mind when choosing a location for the plant. It takes 2 or 3 years to reach their full size.
  • Bloody Cranesbill specimens have foliage that consists of small, dark green basal leaves that are shallowly cut and more deeply cut, thinner stem leaves. In autumn, its foliage turns into bright shades of red.
  • Cranesbill blooms throughout May and July with cup-shaped magenta-pink flowers. Variable reblooming can occur during the summer. Each flower is about 1-1,5 inches (2,5 -4 cm) across and has 5 radially symmetrical petals with deep magenta spots in the center.
  • Many Geranium varieties will self-sow, although hybrids may not produce seeds. In this case, you can use other propagation methods such as dividing the roots, which is easier.
  • Although cultivated as an ornamental plant, Geranium Sanguineum is known to have medicinal properties in folk medicine. It has been used as an astringent to treat battle wounds and nose bleeds. In recent times, geraniums have been the subject of scientific research and their antiherpes properties have been proven.

Growing Geranium Sanguineum

Without a doubt, Geranium Sanguineum is a low-maintenance plant that can withstand a variety of conditions. Gardeners appreciate the fact that it’s not fussy about light and temperature. It is winter hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9 and can do well in both full sun and half shade. This means you can leave it under the hot summer sun without worrying it will end up scorched.

In addition, Bloody Cranesbill doesn’t mind if you keep it sheltered or exposed. You can place it in the south, north, east, west locations and it will do just fine. However, if you want your Bloody Cranesbill to thrive, light shade is the best choice. Even if growth and flower production is encouraged by plenty of light, we recommend placing it in partial shade during the hottest summer days.

Because it can tolerate different climate conditions, gardeners from all parts of the world can grow this amazing plant. Geranium Cranesbill will do best when temperatures are between 55 and 80 degrees F (13-27 °C). Any temperature below that can cause stunted growth and even death.

Geranium sanguineum 100 Seeds, From Amazon

Geranium Sanguineum has low maintenance requirements, so deadheading the flowers is not necessary unless you are trying to prevent self-seeding. Although self-sowing behaviour does not always occur, it will probably happen under ideal conditions. You can prune overgrown plants to control their size and shape.

In the summer, try to remove the yellow, brown, or dead leaves to keep your Bloody Cranesbill healthy. In fall, cut off the remaining stems and add a layer of mulch to protect the roots from freezing. The following spring you will be rewarded with fresh new growth. To keep the plants flowering strong, divide them every 3 to 5 years.

Planting Geranium Sanguineum

Hardy Geraniums are as easy to plant as they are to care for. Although they can be planted any time of the year, we recommend planting from autumn to late winter. This will ensure that the plant is well-established and prepared to flower in the first year. Geranium Sanguineum prefers rich, well-draining soil with medium moisture, so go for something that is humusy or loamy. Although it can tolerate drought conditions, blooming will be more impressive if provided with consistent moisture.

That being said, if you found the perfect location in your garden for your perky Cranesbill, it’s time to get your hands dirty. Start by digging a hole big enough to fit the rootball. Next, add a layer of compost to the base of the hole and place the rootball so that it is planted at the same depth as it was before planting. Add some more organic matter and excavated soil in the planting hole and water well. To conserve soil moisture and prevent weed growth, apply a granular feed and a layer of mulch or bark chippings around the plant.

If you are planting in containers, use potting soil instead of garden soil, as this will allow you to have better control over the consistency and texture of the mix. Because most potting mixes don’t contain many nutrients, make sure you use some fertilizer during the growing season. A slow-release fertilizer will allow you to feed more seldom.

Bloody Cranesbill
Bloody Cranesbill

Watering Geranium Sanguineum

Geranium Sanguineum can withstand drought conditions and therefore, it can be watered sporadically. However, try not to let the soil dry for too long, as the plant will start to decline. If you want to encourage blooming, water regularly but avoid making the soil too soggy. Water in the morning or early afternoon and make sure to soak the soil up to about 8 inches (20 cm) deep. Before watering again, allow the top 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) to dry completely.

To test for soil dryness, you can either use a trowel or stick your finger into the soil. Water deeply and avoid superficial, frequent watering as this will discourage the roots from growing deep into the soil. Avoid watering the plant and focus on the root zone, about 6 to 10 inches (15 to 25 cm) around the stem.

Propagating Geranium Sanguineum

Bloody Geranium can be propagated by three methods: division, from cuttings or seed. Let’s focus more on division, as it is the easiest and most popular choice. You can use this method every 3 to 5 years to promote vigorous blooming and freshen up your garden. Moreover, the division method is a great way to control geranium’s spreading behaviour.

The best time to divide your beloved Cranesbill is during spring and early summer. This will give it plenty of time to recover from the shock of the process and start growing some healthy roots before the arrival of the first frost.

Start by digging up the plant from the ground and removing any excess soil from the rootball. To make sure you’re cutting in the right place, trace the stems down to the rootball. Use a sterile knife to cut sections apart and try to get as much root as you can. You can replant the mother plant back in the original spot, and place some divisions in pots or plant them directly into the soil.

In conclusion

Bloody Geranium is a true garden dream! Besides the impressive magenta-purple floral display, this plant is low-maintenance and a great project for beginner gardeners or people who are time-poor. Bloody Cranesbill can transform any garden or corner of your home into a magical place with little effort on your part.

If you don’t believe us, try it for yourself and let us know how it goes in the comment section below!

Miruna is an experienced content writer with a passion for gardening. She is the proud owner of an outdoor rose garden and an indoor collection of tiny succulents. She bought her first succulent 10 years ago - an adorable Echeveria Setosa. Now she owns more than 100 succulents and cacti of different colors, shapes, and sizes. Miruna is a versatile writer and, as you might have guessed, her favorite topic is gardening. Contact

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