geranium-phaeumAlso called morning widow or black widow, dusky cranesbill is a herbaceous perennial native to Europe. It belongs to the geranium family (Geraniaceae) and is part of the group called hardy geraniums to distinguish them from pelargoniums, the common container plant grown as an annual in most of the US. Dusky cranesbill is clump-forming and has palmate shaped leaves often marked with dark blotches as they mature. The dark purple flowers are outward-facing, and are 3/4 inch across . They appear well above the foliage on slender stems in late spring and early summer. Although the species tends to get tall and weedy, some promising cultivars are available. Good choice for dry shade under trees.

Type: Herbaceous perennial

Bloom: Dark purple, outward facing, ¾ inches, in late spring to early summer

Size: 18” H 24” W

Light: Full sun to part shade

Soil: Average, medium moist, well-drained; but tolerates dry soil in shade

Hardiness: Zones 5-7

Care: Cut back after flowering to keep compact and produce second bloom

Pests and Diseases: Slugs, snails, vine weevil larvae, sawfly larva, capsid bug, downy mildew, powdery mildew

Propagation: Division in spring, basal cuttings in early or mid-spring, root cuttings, seed

Companion plants: Scabiosa ‘butterfly Blue”, Astrantia major ‘Claret’,

Outstanding Selections:
‘Samobor’ (more compact than species)
‘Margaret Wilson’ (cream variegated leaves)

By Karen