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Geranium bohemicum


Mid-winter still finds me busy with seed sowing, so I’ve chosen to post another older story about an annual geranium that I have to give a head start to, for our short growing season.

Although most of the Hardy Geraniums or Cranesbills are perennials, there are a few of the annual varieties that are an interesting addition to the garden. Of the annuals, the majority are weedy types and are not really garden worthy. Geranium bohemicum, although still a small plant, has an attractive flower and looks very nice in a forward position in a border or in the rockery (I have found that containers work the best in my conditions). It could reach 12 inches in height and has a somewhat sprawling growth habit (a little like G. thunbergii). The violet-blue flowers with darker veins are only about three quarters of an inch across but they can make up in volume what they lack in size.

G. bohemicum is a native of Europe and it shares the trait of being associated with sites of fires with our own native annual, G. bicknellii. The seeds can remain viable in the ground for years, and plants may appear after a forest fire or land clearing. I suspect that they would also keep for years using our standard seed storage practices. They are usually listed as being a biennial, but here in zone 4, I have never had them return for a second year. They would best be treated as an annual, and sown every year. The good thing about being an annual-type is that a lot of seed is produced, and there have been reports of them self-seeding. They might very well be biennial and self sow quite well in climates such as the British Isles. I would love to hear any comments about this, from the UK members.

I have tried sowing them three different ways. One method is to sow them indoors around March. Germination is good, but when it is too good, you wind up with a lot of plants to deal with while waiting for good weather to put them out. All geranium seed can be sporadic at germinating indoors, so you can also wind up with plants of varying age and size.

My second method is outdoor sowing direct in the ground (done in late fall) and that works as well. However, the two years I tried this method, the plants grew to about three inches in height, flowered at that size and that was it! They did not grow into the potential size that they should have reached. Perhaps in zones warmer than my zone 4 this may not be as much of a problem.

By far the most successful method was to winter sow the seed and allow it to experience the fluctuations of winter. If you have sown in a pot or planter, the new seedlings can be moved around the garden into prime positions of warmth and light in the spring, and this seems to give bohemicum the little extra that it needs to reach full potential. I keep my bohemicum containers in the unheated garage, so they germinate a little sooner than those stored outdoors, this also gives bohemicum a head start. So far I have used plastic planters, but I can imagine what a great candidate this plant would be for growing in hyper-tufa troughs.

Check out the seed exchange lists, as it is often offered. If you should grow this plant, check for seeds after the main blooming is over. They are ready to harvest when the ‘beaks’ turn brown and the seeds appear black.

I have received seed from an exchange this year of Geranium lanuginosum, which is said to be very similar to G. bohemicum. I look forward to seeing how close they are to each other.

More blog posts by bowl_you

Previous post: Looking back… Top 5 Geraniums

Next post: Geranium bicknellii



They are sweet little flowers, like nature's jewels, must give you a lot of pleasure. Will look for seed in uk.

26 Feb, 2014


I need a picture of the entire stem and geranium blossom with the cranes beak on the plant. My question is this. When the cranes beak is visible ( green) and most of the blossom is flowering do I leave that stem with the flower dropped but the cranes beak still connected? It seems so long to leave this spent blossom stem on until the seed is sprung off and into a brown paper bag. Can the stem with the cranesbeak intact be taken off of the plant and stored in the brown paper bag until it shoots off? If it can, then my geranium plant can blossom again & again while I wait for the old stem to shoot off the seeds from the cranes beak into the brown paper sack. Please advise. Thanks

22 Apr, 2014


I'm not 100% sure on this question, as I always leave the beaks alone until they start to turn brown. Once they start to darken, they can be picked and will continue to ripen fine. If picked early (still green), perhaps having the stem in water, like a picked flower, would keep it alive until it is ready to eject seed.

I guess that is a common problem faced by growers of many flowers that also want seed... Sometimes to collect seed, one must lose a bit of re-bloom. Maybe someone else has had experience collecting green beaks?
I might just give it a try this year for some, just so I know what happens.

Even when collected 'brown', some seed heads will just hold the seed and not 'eject' it. This makes for a little more work processing the seed (as shown in a previous blog - 'Late bloomers and geranium seed cleaning'.

John, in Midhurst, Ontario

29 Apr, 2014

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