Read our guide to Geums for everything you’ll ever need to know! Tips for planting & caring for “Avens”
Are you ready to introduce an absolutely wonderful plant into your garden collection? Geums have gained massive popularity thanks to the plant’s flowers featured in beautiful colours and various yellow, red, orange, or pink combinations. Geums, also known as avens, are rhizomatous perennial herbaceous plants. A great thing about these plants is the fact that they aren’t your usual ornamental found in all gardens. It might sound surprising but these flowering plants are pretty uncommon.
This, together with the fact that they produce wonderful-looking flowers, makes the geum a plant many gardeners want to have in their collections. Indeed, if you are an amateur gardener, you may not know of the good-looking geums, but you are in luck. You have now discovered this breath-taking partial shade-loving of the Rosaceae family known as geum, its botanical name, or more commonly referred to as avens.
Geums make great border plants, usually planted because the plant’s flowers bloom from late spring until the end of summer or as late as autumn. And who wouldn’t want to see pretty vibrant-coloured flowers in full bloom for so many months? No one we could think of.
You should not worry about planting and growing geums. Whether you are a novice gardener or not, planting avens for the first time requires a bit of knowledge – but isn’t this the case with any new plant? So, leave your worries aside and discover geums’ needs and features, living conditions and maintenance requirements. Once you reach the end of our article, you’ll be able to start planting avens in your garden, provided they have the right conditions where they can thrive.
Keep reading to learn more about these dainty plants, from their specific features to how to grow, plant and take care of them.
- An interesting fact about geums, more specifically about the plant’s scientific name, is that it is derived from “geno”, a Greek word meaning “to give off a pleasant fragrance” as the plant’s roots will give off a nice clove-like smell when crushed.
- Geum urbanum, the most common type of Geum is commonly known as wild cloves or herb Bennet (a variation of the Latin name ‘Herba Benedicta’, which means ‘the blessed herb’). In the past, the aromatic roots of Geum urbanum were worn amulets and it was commonly believed that the plant could protect the wearer from evil spirits and other threats.
- Geums belong to the rose family of plants, more specifically the Rosoideae subfamily and are related to many beautiful ornamentals including Fragaria and potentilla.
- Geums are known for their early blooming period, which starts in late spring. This perennial is the first to bring colour to your garden, paving the way for your other summer-flowering plants.
- Worldwide, there are more than fifty species of avens, divided between the ones that grow on meadows and the ones that prefer the woodland. There are many wild species of geum but most gardeners will grow the hybrid cultivars. Hybrid geums have bigger and more attractive blossoms and more petals.
- All geum species prefer the cooler zones, and they are native to these areas of lower temperatures in Europe, North and South America, Asia and Africa.
- Geums are versatile plants so they will thrive in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 9.
- Geums are not the kind of plants that prefer dry and hot areas. Instead, they thrive when a cool root run is maintained. Full sun will encourage blooming, but these plants can be sensitive to harsh afternoon sun, especially in very hot climates, so it’s best to plant them in a location where they will get afternoon shade.
- The blooming season for geums is between April and September. Woodlander species of geums usually flower in April, a month earlier than their meadowland relatives. These geums can tolerate brighter conditions.
- If you decide to plant and grow woodland geums, it is best to pair them with wood anemones, primulas, and Solomon’s seal. Orange geums would look beautiful next to the Black Hero dark tulip.
- Avens plants are usually planted next to borders, but they can also be planted in containers or added to rock gardens.
- Geum types are usually free from diseases. However, they are prone to attacks from red spider mites, aphids, and sawflies and can be susceptible to root rot, powdery mildew, and leaf spot when their environmental conditions are not ideal.
- Geums can be combined with many flowering plants, grasses, and other ornamentals such as columbines, mountain cornflower, red mountain spinach, sedum stonecrops, golden feverfews, lupines, mulleins, and sage to create unique displays.
Geums Features: An Overview
- Belonging to the Rosaceae family, geums’ flowers look very much like roses, although their saucer-shaped flowers are quite distinctive.
- Geums’ foliage is evergreen or semi-evergreen, depending on the geum type. The plant’s leaves can form an excellent groundcover during winter.
- There are around fifty species of geums. Depending on each variety, the flowers can be single, double or semi-double, featured in various shades, from light pink to yellow, vibrant red or bright orange.
- Geum plants have five-petaled saucer-shaped flowers that are gathered in loose clusters, which is why the plant is famously known for its naturalistic and beautifully wild aesthetic and makes a perfect addition to woodland gardens and cottage gardens.
- When looking at the foliage, geum plants have hairy, bold dark green and pinnate leaves. Thanks to the plant’s full and rich foliage, a dense basal clump is formed.
- Above all this fantastic foliage you cannot miss, the flowers will rise triumphantly yet delicately on wiry and leafy stems in vibrant hot hues or cooler shades, depending on the type of geum you decide to plant.
- ‘Mrs. J Bradshaw’ and ‘Lady Stratheden’ are two varieties of Geums that were granted the Award of Garden Merit by The Royal Horticultural Society. This Geum variety is a tough and hardy ornamental plant with rich green foliage and bright red blooms.
- Other attractive Geum cultivars include ‘Custard Tart’, ‘Scarlet Tempest’, ‘Totally Tangerine’, ‘East of Eden’, ‘Turbango Twister’, ‘Dark and Stormy’, ‘Double Bloody Mary’, ‘Fireball’, and ‘Mai Tai’.
- Geums are excellent for pollinators, attracting butterflies, especially. Therefore, your summer garden will look heavenly with geum flowers blossoming and flocks of pollinators flying around.
- Avens plants are deer and rabbit resistant, so you don’t have to worry about your plants being munched on when you aren’t paying attention.
If you have decided to grow geums, that is excellent. All you have to do now is learn how to do this successfully. Therefore, it is crucial to know all the aspects of growing the geum plant so that you can support its healthy and thriving growth.
This being said, the first thing you need to ensure is that the soil is moisture retentive for this herbaceous perennial. In general, geums are the type of plants anyone can grow and take care of, given the fact that they are pretty low maintenance. So, you don’t have to worry too much about growing geums if you aren’t yet an experienced gardener. With time, this will improve, and geum is the kind of plant you can easily begin your gardening experience with.
Geums are quite easy to grow and require little maintenance overall, but they will be grateful if you put in some time and effort and deadhead them periodically. Removing the spent blooms will encourage your geums to produce more flowers and extend their blooming season. Another thing to remember is the fact that mature geums will benefit if you divide them once every few years. This will prevent overcrowding and will keep them tidy and healthy.
As long as you fulfil the plant’s basic and crucial needs, such as choosing and maintaining moist soil, picking the right light conditions and watering the plant regularly, it won’t be too difficult to grow geum.
- Country/Region Of Manufacture:United States, Model:Geum Seeds - Mrs. Bradshaw, Climate:Cold, Usda Hardiness Zone (°F):5 (-20 to -10 °F)
- Hardy Perennial:ZONE 3-9, Mpn:Perennial flowers seeds, Soil Type:Chalk
- Brand:Caribbeangardenseed, Sunlight:Partial Shade, Season Of Interest:Spring
- Brand:Caribbeangardenseed, Country/Region Of Manufacture:United States
- Model:Geum Seeds - Lady Stratheden, Hardy Perennial:ZONE 3-9
- Mpn:Perennial flowers seeds
When you are ready to plant geums, you must know that extreme conditions should be avoided at all costs because these plants won’t enjoy waterlogged soil or dry soil. Geums thrive in well-drained and moist soil, like chalk, sand or loam. So, you should choose soil with acid, alkaline or neutral pH.
In order to improve the water retention, as this is what geums need when planted, you need to dig in a lot of organic matter before planting them. Once you have ensured conditions are kept moist, it is time to choose the right area to plant geums.
Many geum varieties do well when planted in a little shade. But given the numerous types of geums, some can tolerate full to partial shade conditions and even full sun exposure. It is of the utmost importance to know which geum types do well in sunlight and which one prefers shade. For instance, direct sunlight can harm Geum coccineum, which prefers partial shade. On the other hand, Geum chiloense thrives when planted in the sunshine, provided the soil is kept moist, while Geum rivale types thrive in shady areas.
New plants don’t need fertilizer and, in general, geums aren’t very needy in this department. If your plants are established, you can apply a balanced fertilizer in early spring, but make sure you don’t go overboard and follow the guidelines provided on the label carefully.
During summertime, it is recommended to water geums quite frequently. Water the plants thoroughly after you plant them and try to keep the soil moist over the following week. As mentioned earlier, these plants thrive in water-retentive, moist and fertile soils. Therefore, it isn’t surprising that geum is the type of plant that needs water on a regular basis – without sogging the soil. The recommendation for this plant is 1 inch every week, either by rainfall or irrigation, or both.
If you want to propagate geums, the good news is that you can do so either by division or rhizomes. Propagating by division means digging up geum’s clumps in the spring or fall. Then, once they are mature, you can divide them by separating the clumps, making sure each of them has its own roots. Once this is done, you can plant them immediately, as it isn’t recommended to let the divisions for too long, given they can dry out. Another method to propagate geums is by rhizomes. You need to dig up side shoots and replant them straight away in the garden.
An interesting fact about geums is that they are able to self-seed relatively easily. But whether you choose to propagate geums by division or rhizome or let the plant self-seed, it is a matter of preference. Regardless of which option you go for, it is good to know that you can help geums spread approximately every three years. This way, you can make sure you grow geums in your garden every year. Truth be told, once you see their beauty blossoming in your garden, it isn’t easy to let go of them.
You can also use seeds to start your geraniums, but this will take more time, so you’ll need to have plenty of patience. You can sow the geum seeds indoors in late winter or early spring or you can plant them directly in the garden bed in spring or summer.
You couldn’t have picked a better plant to add to your garden. Geums are low-maintenance perennials with flowers that bloom from late spring until early autumn. So, you’ll be able to enjoy this plant’s vibrant-coloured flowers in shades of orange or red more than just for a couple of months during summer. During mild winters, geums’ foliage remains evergreen or semi-evergreen, making for an excellent groundcover.
Whether you have your garden in the city or the countryside, geums will definitely be the head-turner of your collection, given it looks best in any garden. Ideally, you can plant it by the border, or it is an excellent choice for rock gardens. But it can also be planted in a pot.
If you have planted geums, please let us know what variety you have chosen and how it has complemented your garden.