Geranium pratense 'Plenum Violaceum'

Ispahan Zone6a ChicagoMay 13, 2014

Do any of you grow Geranium pratense 'Plenum Violaceum'? It is gorgeous with tiny (about 1/3 the size of 'Rozanne') glowing purple, perfectly formed double blooms, finely divided foliage and a long bloom period. Problem is, it is not what I would call vigorous by any means. My plant did not bloom until its second season and only had one growth point. But it stayed in bloom for two full months and put on an amazing show for such a scrawny plant. My plant is in 3/4 sun in well-amended, humusy sandy-loam soil.

Oddly enough, my plant completely disappeared by mid August last year after it was done blooming. I thought it had died or had bloomed itself to death. But this spring it has returned, and now has three growing points!

Has anyone noticed this plant's strange early dormancy before? Every other hardy geranium I know will send up a fresh rosette of foliage after blooming.

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Campanula UK Z8

yes, it will go into vanish mode...as will G.nodosum, and G tuberosum....and possibly G,aristatum. They are, I suppose, what you might call a spring ephemeral (we tend to not use that expression in the UK)....but are completely reliable, year on year.
Yes, it does take a while to build up a substantial rootgrowth....but is one of the only pratense types I would bother with.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 5:11AM
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Ispahan Zone6a Chicago

Camps, your advice is always much appreciated. I confess that I have a "thing" for hardy geraniums and I am always on the lookout for more, whether as growing plants or as seeds.

Why do you say that 'Plenum Violaceum' is one of the few pratense types you would grow? Are Geranium pratense and its many forms too robust, too weedy, too ugly...? Even the wild blue G. pratense seems lovely to me and I would love to have a meadow filled with it. I think most hardy geraniums are unobtrusive enough that I wouldn't mind them reseeding all over (the finely cut foliage of most of them doesn't seem to smother and bulldoze neighboring plants).

That said, I am considering starting a batch of 'Mrs Kendall Clark' from seed. Should I avoid it?

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 9:22AM
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Campanula UK Z8

Nothing wrong with ordinary G.pratense....although it does tend to get a bit mildewy and has a fleeting bloom season. I do have (lots) of it - I guess I should have said that violaceae plenum (along with himalayense Birch Double) is the only earlyish variety I would buy.
Mrs K C is a real winner at dusk - it gets that moon touched, luminous electric glow.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 2:15PM
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Ispahan Zone6a Chicago

Great to know that about the color of "Mrs Kendall Clark'. I went ahead and splurged on some seeds from Jelitto, since they offer MKC as part of their Gold Nugget collection. I thought it would be nice to have geraniums germinate quickly and uniformly for a change, lol!

The way you describe the growth habit of G. pratense, it almost sounds like our native G. maculatum (except for the mildew part). G. maculatum is one of my favorite wildflowers.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 10:35PM
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