Cranesbills that form nice/tidy clumps?

growitnowMay 7, 2013

Hi, I'm trying to generate a short list of cranesbills that form a nice clump. By "nice" I mean does not sprawl. I'm open to different sizes and colors but just want something that won't trail into everything else or get so "scraggly" :)

In looking around I see these listed, but I don't know if they are accurate (I've grown Johnson's blue, for example and I wouldn't call that a 'tidy clump'). I'd appreciate some experienced advice..

Sanguinem striata (spreading clump, 6â high)
Ballerina (neat mound, 4â high)
JohnsonsâÂÂs blue (dense clump, 12-18â high)
Renrdii (neat clump, 12â high)

thanks,
growitnow
z7, VA

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christinmk z5b eastern WA

I hear you. I'm not usually one for having to have everything neat and tidy, but the scraggly look of some Geraniums has become a bit irksome to me. I've grown a number of them over the years and only a few have made it to my top favorites- mainly because they ARE nice looking after bloom.

G. cinereum 'Ballerina' (and other cultivars) are pretty nice mounding guys.

I'm a huge fan of G. renardii. Very small, compact plant. Gorgeous large, papery white flowers with purplish veins.

Not on your list but...

G. cantabrigiense cultivars get a thumbs up from me. Nice low, groundcover type geraniums that look great all the time. Particularly nice fall foliage.

G. macrorrhizum is great for difficult shady areas. Dry shade and tree-rooty (yep, that is a word, LOL) spaces. Mat forming.
CMK

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 11:26AM
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rouge21_gw(5)

I really like "Max Frei"...one reason is because it is so compact and well-behaved.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 11:28AM
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karin_mt(4 MT)

'Purple Pillow' is a sibling to 'Ballerina' with the same impeccable manners but darker flowers.

Here they both are mingling together.

PS - CMK thanks for the tips on G. macrorrhizum. I have a good patch of those and am needing some replacement plants for tree-rooty areas so I will do a little dividing and transplanting.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 12:16PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

For foliage, I LOVE biokovo. The foliage stays compact and mounded, and turns a beautiful color in fall. I don't have a lot of experience with geraniums, but everything else I've grown (Johnson's Blue, Claridge Druce, and a few others I can't think of at the moment) all had that sprawling habit which I don't care for as much.

Karin, the Ballerina and Purple Pillow are gorgeous! I wil have to try those. The biokovo has the wonderful foliage but the flowers are not as dramatic as your photo. What is the growing situation for those? Shade? Part shade? Dry? etc....

Dee

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 12:46PM
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karin_mt(4 MT)

Dee,

These are in full sun in a rock garden. The soil is good, but not especially moist because it drains fast. I also have them in a garden that gets afternoon shade and I think they are a bit happier there. But they have done surprisingly well in the rock garden setting.

These days I am all about neat, well-behaved plants, so these guys are stars for me.

One of my worst offenders in my war on messiness is geranium sanguinium which self-seeds like crazy and is very hard to pull out, even when it's tiny. So I don't advise that plant to anyone!

Karin

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 3:04PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

Wow, full sun in a rock garden! I would not have suspected that! But good to hear. I am definitely going to have to look for these. The color combination is just lovely!

Thanks for sharing your photo!
Dee

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 5:36PM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

-Karin, sure thing ;-) I have a large stand of the macrorrhizum under a red twig dogwood shrub and it does outstanding. I've had luck with very few perennials under there aside from the Geranium, Epimedium, and Ajuga.

Beautiful Purple Pillow pic btw...
CMK

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 12:25AM
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mxk3(Zone 6 SE MI)

* "Biokovo" (ground-hugging)

* G. magnificum (~1.5' high)

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 5:52AM
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irene_dsc(5)

Geranium samobar is another that is more of a tidy clumper than a sprawler, although it does like to self-seed. Fortunately, it doesn't go crazy with the self-seeding, and this just means I have several in my garden. It is more of a foliage plant, with small magenta blooms, and it will grow in complete shade to part shade, in my garden.

Otoh, I have Geranium nimbus and Brookside, and they both sprawl quite a bit. It can be charming, when they wind their way through other flowers to reach the sun, but they aren't exactly neat and tidy! I think one of them is more sprawly than the other, but I get them mixed up.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 5:22PM
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wieslaw59

Geranium Patricia, but needs protection in hard winters here(as all G.psilostemon hybrids do).

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 7:17PM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

-mxk3, is your magnificum in full sun? I've got mine in part and it does tend to lean/flop a lot, particularly when it rains and the thing is in full bloom.
CMK

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 10:18PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

I love 'Biokovo'

'Johnson's Blue' is a dog for me and was shovel pruned. Always wilted and got mildew.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 12:19PM
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mrtulin

go to the website "Geranaciaceae" and you will see just about every perennial geranium you can buy. The owner will answer your questions.
Most of the plants cost 7-8 dollars. They are not huge, but are very healthy and have very good root systems. She's in CA so shipping is not cheap, but when I figured out the per plant cost (inc. shipping) it came to about 9.25, which is certainly in line with many nurseries. And her plants are much better grown. They arrived in perfect condition.
I think starting with a smaller plant in your situation there'd be less transplant shock.
I found at Santa Rosa nursery last year a clumping blue called "Havana Blues." There are a couple of other blue/purples that are supposed to be like "Jolly Bee.", clumping. One is Azure something.
I think Tiny Monster is a good clumper
Johnson's Blue flops.
Geranium Magnificum also sprawls in too rich soil in my garden. Gets at least a foot across.

Idabean/Marie

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 9:18PM
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mrtulin

PS
Samobar has variagated foliage. Unfortunately, the colors are unstable in the seedlings. I found the flowers get lighter and muddier and the dark coloration in the leaves can be diminished. The owner of the geranium nursery confirmed that is true. So I just rogue out the bad ones.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 9:24PM
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mxk3(Zone 6 SE MI)

Christinmk: I trim G. magnificum back all the way to the ground immediately after flowering - they bounce right back in no time, and the fresh foliage stays neat and tidy all the way through to frost. They are in full sun.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 12:43AM
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Suzapruner

Please don't leave out the charming and beautiful soft yellow flowers of Erodium golden storksbill. Very diminutive clump. Great for rock gardens, but does well for me in full afternoon sun (at foot of spruce tree)here in the Rockies. Prolific bloomer of a different color. Also a good echo for climbing rose Golden Showers.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 12:08PM
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dominoswrath(5 WI)

Geranium x cantabrigiense Biokovo -

Agree with prior comments. Very tidy and a nice edger. I have mine in full sun next to a water fountain.

I have sanguineum in a small planting strip wedged between my house and driveway and I have to say they look pretty stunning this year. But in a larger planting bed, not so sure I'd like it.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 12:32PM
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gazania_gw

Do keep in mind that Biocovo does creep around, ever expanding into open spaces, slowly, but surely.
The foliage is lovely, evergreen year round, and the flowers nice enough, but it is often used as a ground cover and does a good job of it.
1 pink and 1 white G.Bicovo here

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 1:17PM
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dominoswrath(5 WI)

I wish mine would expand! Perhaps my soil is too compact?

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 3:08PM
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dominoswrath(5 WI)

I wish mine would expand! Perhaps my soil is too compact?

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 3:09PM
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gazania_gw

dominoswrath, my soil has a high clay content. I lightened it up somewhat when planting new ground, but it is still on the clay side. This ground was tilled and first planted 12 years ago. The geraniums were planted 4 years ago and have each spread out a good 3 to 4 feet in all directions.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 3:26PM
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rouge21_gw(5)

Please don't leave out the charming and beautiful soft yellow flowers of Erodium golden storksbill

Thanks for this mention of this plant. I hadnt heard of it and its on-line description is intriguing. A perfect example of why I enjoy reading GW.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 5:20PM
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Karchita(WA Z8)

Quite a few of them will form nice, tidy clumps if scissors are applied regularly. :)

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 3:58AM
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