Mad About Geums
In the past couple years, we’ve noticed a fairly unknown plant has come into fashion in a very dark horse manner - the geums.
Loved by flower farmers and gardeners alike, it seems to be the IT plant this year, and the interest shows no signs of abating.
Known also by their common name “avens”, geums are in the Rosacea family - subfamily Rosoideae - and are closely related to potentillas as well as fragaria (the former illustrated by its form and fuzzy leaves - the latter by its sepals and foliage).
The plants themselves don’t look like much initially - rather uninspiring basal rosettes of foliage, looking more similar to a weed in the spring than anything you would seemingly want to cultivate.
Yet give it a bit of time - from this clump of unassuming foliage come long wiry stems that rise from within, unfolding upwards and blooming with a brilliant ruffled petticoat of a flower on a long stem.
The flower itself isn’t large - maybe an inch at most, sometimes smaller - but are displayed as little buttons at the end of the stem, their form more like an open miniature ranunculus. And they are elegant like a ranunculus too - I’ll find it suddenly catching my eye in the garden due to its fine and neat foliage and perfect blooms.
For this reason, they are popular with flower farmers. Especially the more fancy cultivars like “Mai Tai” with its soft pink blossoms, they are perfect for tucking into centerpieces or adding a bit of flair and texture to a bridal bouquet.
Gardeners on the other hand, may want to instead try the brightly colored varieties in bold, saturated, primary colors. We are particularly fond of the red one which is new to us this year called “Red Dragon”. A stunning carmine red, it’s petals fade to a bright rust color as it ages and also has a dark center, almost like a poppy.
We are also big fans of the golf-yellow variety known as ‘Lady Stratheden’. A glorious, saturated Butterfinger candy color, she is quite floriferous and adds a nice punch of color to the border. My only problem is that Lady Stratheden tends to hold onto its petals longer than other varieties, which makes it harder to keep deadheaded.
Our third favorite geum would be “Mrs. Bradshaw” , with shorter stems but also sporting a very prolific growth habit, putting out an explosion of blooms in a variety of shades in orange and reds.
QUICK FACTS ABOUT GEUMS
Hardiness: Zone 5 to 7
Sun: Part Shade to Part Sun
Bloom Time: Late Spring to Late Summer
HOW TO GROW GEUMS
Geums like growing in the averages of everything - average light, moisture, fertility and drainage. In our experience they are pretty hardy and vigorous plants if they get a decent amount of water and fertility.
High heat and humidity such as in the south and Midwest can cause geums to have a shorter life overall, so make sure you keep them deadheaded to prolong bloom time and the plant’s life.
Wet, heavy soil in winter can kill geums, so make sure to give them good drainage.
FOR FLORAL DESIGN
Geums are wonderful long lasting material for cut flower design. Their papery flowers and graceful stems make for a very welcomed addition to any floral arrangement.
i usually cut when the first bud starts opening (and there are usually multiple buds on a stem) Harvest in early morning or late evening, cutting down to the base of the plant to encourage new long stems
No special conditioning is required for their use in the vase. They work well as both filler and support flowers, and last a good 5-7 days in the vase when the water is kept clean.