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Native Plant of the Week: Cranesbill or Wild Geranium

Family: Geraniaceae


Name: Geranium maculatum


Bloom Time: May-June


Flower: lavender/pink


Soil Condition: moist, dry, adaptable


Light: partial shade, shade


Height: 12-24"


Native Range: Eastern North America including LI


Zone: 3-11


Photos: KMS Native Plants


Wild geranium is a great plant for shady spaces. It makes an excellent ground cover and mingles well with other shade-loving native plants. The flowers attract all kinds of pollinators. Full sun is tolerated if the soil is consistently moist.


Maintenance: In summer, the leaves will decline and become yellow. At this time, shear them back to encourage new growth. Deadheading will prolong bloom time.


Benefits: Nectar source for butterflies, bees, and other insects. Bumble bee favorite! Supports the specialized bee: Adrena distan (mining bee -see pic below). Songbirds eat the seeds. Usually tolerant of deer/rabbit browse.


Noteworthy Cultivars: 'Espresso' (chocolate green leaves) and yes, it is still beneficial!

Photos: KMS Native Plants: bee: Adrena distans (mining bee)


Fun Facts: It was medicinally used by Native Americans to treat diarrhea by boiling the whole plant. A tea from the roots was used as a rinse for sore throat and mouth ulcers. The dried, powdered roots were used to promote coagulation.


Companion Plants: Athyrium filix femina (lady fern), Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern), Aquilegia canadensis (wild columbine), Stylophorum diphyllum (celandine poppy), Phlox divaricata (woodland phlox), Carex albicans (white-tinged sedge)

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