Popular for its jewel-like flowers, textured aesthetic foliage and bright colors, the geum is an attractive addition to any planting scheme. Also known as the Avens plant, these colorful flowers are part of the rose family. An attractive colorful flower, the geum is a good companion plant for other sun loving perennials. They can also be cultivated as a houseplant or as part of a rock garden.
A long lasting floral perennial, the rose-like blooms of the geum can be found growing in many parts of Asia, Europe, Africa and both North and South America. Setting flowers in shades of pink, yellow, red and orange these colorful blooms sit above rich, green foliage. Depending on the cultivar and growing conditions, geum plants can either be evergreen or deciduous.
These are reliable, compact plants with a mounding growth habit. An ideal low maintenance, shade flower, avens typically grow to a height of 12 to 18 inches. In addition to the common, cultivated species, hybrid cultivars that produce fluffier flowers with multiple layers of petals and wild types are also available.
If you want to learn more about these reliable, heavy flowering plants, this guide to growing geums will take you through everything that you need to know to cultivate a healthy, heavy flowering plant. We will also take you through some of the most interesting geum cultivars currently available.
As well as cultivated specimens, wild varieties are also available.
1 Alabama Slammer
Alabama Slammer is a herbaceous clump forming perennial which produces medium sized flowers. Part of the cocktail series, this reliable geum is pleasingly disease resistant and displays a vigorous growth habit.
Flowering abundantly for 3 weeks during the late spring and early summer months, Alabama Slammer’s ruffled blooms are golden yellow in color with red and orange markings. One plant can produce over 150 flowers. These colorful blooms cover the plant, sitting on light burgundy stems above the glossy green foliage.
While the flowers measure 1 inch in width, Alabama Slammer can grow to a height of 10 to 14 inches and achieve a similar spread. Best planted in full sun and fertile, well draining soil, Alabama Slammer also tolerates partial shade. In hot or humid climates some afternoon shade is required. An adaptable, easy to grow specimen, Alabama Slammer is ideal for butterfly gardens, cottage gardens and rock gardens. It can also be cultivated as part of a container garden.
Another reliable perennial, Borisii is a low growing specimen which produces bright orange, cup shaped blooms from late spring until early summer. The flowers sit on slim, flimsy stems that seem almost too delicate to bear the blooms. These emerge through the green, irregular shaped foliage. As the flowers fade, fluffy seed heads form, prolonging the interest.
Orange blooms add warmth to the flower bed.
Borisii provides a long lasting, compact floral carpet which is ideal for rock gardens and cottage gardens. 6 to 12 inches tall and wide, Borisii grows equally well in both partial shade and full sun positions. The soil should be fertile and well draining. However this is an adaptable specimen which, with a little care, can be encouraged to grow in most conditions.
3 Dark and Stormy
Dark and Stormy is a heavy flowering plant producing over 170 semi-double or single ruffled orange-red blooms. These measure 1 inch in width meaning that when in flower the blooms appear to cover the plant. Providing further interest the Dark and Stormys color starts to change as the plant matures, giving it a unique appearance in the flower bed.
Dark and Stormy flowers profusely for 3 to 4 weeks from late spring to early summer. The flowers form on lightly leafed red stems above lush deep green leaves. Part of the Cocktail series, Dark and Stormy is pleasingly disease resistant and has a vigorous growth habit.
Reaching a height of 18 inches and spreading 45 cm wide, Dark and Stormy does best in partial shade. This cultivar also grows in full sun positions and tolerates all types of soil. However, Dark and Stormy does best in fertile, moist soil. Deadhead and remove spent flower stems to boost growth and flowering.
4 Double Bloody Mary
Packed with aesthetic value, Double Bloody Mary produces medium sized blood red flowers from late spring until the end of summer. These eye-catching flowers sit on top of leafy branching stems which emerge from between the luscious green leaves. Like Dark and Stormy, Double Bloody Mary is part of the Cocktail series meaning that it has a vigorous growth habit and is pleasingly disease resistant.
Double Bloody Mary reaches a height of 24 inches and spreads 12 to 18 inches wide. This avens cultivar likes partial sun positions and well draining, medium moist soil. Double Bloody Mary works well in both rock and cottage gardens.
Double Bloody Mary is prized for its eye-catching red blooms.
Wet Kiss is another member of the reliable Cocktail series. The single or semi double ruffled vermillion fade as the plant matures to peachy orange bicolor. These sit on burgundy stems over a mass of green foliage.
Wet Kiss produces over 100 flowers per plant during its 3 to 4 week springtime flowering period. Wet Kiss grows to a height of 14 inches and spreads 35 cm wide. Like other Cocktail series avens plants, Wet Kiss is best planted in a sunny spot and moist, fertile soil.
Possibly the most popular blooming orange avens perennial, Fireball produces large yellow orange blooms during the late spring and early summer weeks. These eye-catching blooms sit on faint red stems. Further aesthetic interest is provided by the fluffy seed heads which form as the flowers fade.
Fireball’s attractive flowers sit above a mound of coarsely textured evergreen basal leaves. Popular with hummingbirds and butterflies, Fireball thrives in both shady and full sun positions In hot and humid areas plant Fireball in an area that enjoys some afternoon shade. Fireball grows to a height of around 30 inches and spreads around 2 ft wide, making it a good choice for floral groundcover.
Fire Storm is an improved member of the Fireball series. Like most geum cultivars this is a herbaceous clump forming perennial. Fire Storm produces twice as many flowers as Fireball but they are half the size. This is a compact cultivar with a vigorous growth habit and long lasting flowers.
Fire Storm produces lots of semi-double richly colored flowers. These are typically orange in color with red edges. As they mature flowers fade from orange to a yellow shade. Like other avens cultivars Fire Storm produces masses of textured, evergreen foliage. Fire Storm grows to a height of 12 to 20 inches and spreads 18 inches wide.
6 Mai Tai
Mai Tai produces single and semi-double vermillion flowers with ruffled petals. Emerging in late spring, these delicate blooms fade from peach to pink during the earliest weeks of summer. Another of the heavy flowering types of geum, a single Mai Tai plant can produce over 130 flowers.
Reaching a height of 14 inches, Mai Tai flowers sit on lightly leafed burgundy stems above lobed lush basal leaves. This cultivar can spread up to 35 inches, providing colorful, long lasting ground cover. Tolerant of all soil types, Mai Tai thrives in both full and partial sun positions.
Flowers sit on long, elegant stems above the foliage.
7 Flora Plena Sunrise
Flora Plena Sunrise is popular for its large cup shaped, yellow flowers. Blooming from late spring to the end of summer, the yellow flowers contrast nicely with the plants lush green foliage, providing lots of visual interest.
Flora Plans Sunrise grows to a height of 16 to 18 inches and spreads 40 to 45 cm wide. Like other avens cultivars, Flora Plena Sunrise does well in both partial shade and full sun positions. While this cultivar does best in fertile, moist soil it does tolerate other conditions.
8 Mrs J. Bradshaw
The contrasting orange and scarlet flowers of Mrs J. Bradshaw provide aesthetic interest to a range of different planting styles. These richly colored blooms, which develop during late spring and early summer, sit on lightly leaves purple stems above dark green basal leaves.
Mrs J. Bradshaw reaches a height of 24 to 30 inches. Spreading 12 to 18 inches wide, Mrs J. Bradshaw flowers reach 1.5 inches in diameter. Like other geum flowers, this cultivar died best in sunny positions and rich, well draining soil.
Many avens produce richly colored flowers.
9 Princess Juliana
Flowering from late spring until early summer, Princess Juliana is popular for its semi double, vibrant orange flowers. These sit above lobed lush green basal leaves. With the right care, the flowers can last for many weeks.
Happiest in moist fertile soil, Princess Juliana also grows in other soil types but may require a little extra care. This cultivar typically achieves a mature height and spread of 20 to 24 inches.
10 Geum Triflorum
Geum Triflorum, also known as Prairie Smoke, produces colorful red, pink or purple bowl shaped flowers. These emerge in late spring. As they fade, distinctive seed heads with elongated styles that form straight silver pink tails develop. develop
When in flower, Prairie Smoke resembles a plume of smoke, hovering close to the ground. The flowers sit on divided fern-like green-blue leaves that last throughout the year. In fall, the foliage turns a deep red color providing further interest interest
Prairie Smoke flower heads droop down towards the ground.
Geum Triflorum is a herbaceous rhizomatous perennial that spreads in slow growing clumps, providing attractive ground cover. Growing 6 to 18 inches tall and spreading 6 to 12 inches wide this cultivar thrives in full sun and dry or medium well draining soil. If the soil is too wet the roots of the plant may rot. Prairie Smoke is both shade and drought tolerant once established. This is a hardy, low maintenance option, as well as being shade tolerant it also tolerates drought once mature.
An increasingly popular hardy perennial, with a little care the Geum plant can be encouraged to flower from late spring well into the summer months. Some cultivars can even continue to flower into the early fall.
Displaying a spreading growth habit, the tallest geum cultivars rarely exceed 20 inches in height. This makes the plant ideal for placing in the front or middle of a flower bed. The soil should be mildly moisture retentive, but not too heavy. Soils that retain too much moisture can cause the plants to develop root rot.
While these plants like lots of light, try to avoid planting your geum in a hot, south facing position. Your chosen position should enjoy some afternoon shade. Geum plants struggle in overly dry soil. The foliage is also easily scorched. In general these plants do best in a partial shade position. However, some cultivars, such as Geum chiloense, tolerate planting in a full sun position. If your garden lacks any natural shade, a Shade Cloth for Plants is an easy to install option.
Most cultivars are hardy in USDA Zones 5 to 9.
How to Plant
You can plant avens in containers or garden soil. Before planting you may need to work in soil amendments such as compost. This should be done around 2 weeks before planting, giving the soil time to settle. During this period harden off your geum plants.
If you are planting your geum in a container, fill the pot with well draining potting soil. There should be lots of drainage holes in the bottom of the pot.
When you are ready to plant, dig a hole in the soil large enough to hold the plant’s root system. To check that the hole is large enough, place the geum, still in its pot, inside the hole. It should fit comfortably in the hole, with the lip of the pot in line with the soil level.
Remove the geum from its pot. Gently squeezing the side of the pot loosens the soil, enabling you to easily slide out the plant without damaging the roots. Place the geum in the center of the hole and backfill. Water well and mulch if necessary.
Space the plants 12 to 18 inches apart. This may seem sparse when the plants are young but remember geums have a spreading, mounding growth habit. They will quickly fill the space.
Avens plants have a spreading, mounding growth habit making them a good choice for floral groundcover.
If you are planting more than one different cultivar use T-Type Plant Tags to mark the different species. This enables you to easily work out which cultivar is which.
Water your geum plants regularly, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings. Geum flowers growing in pots may require watering as often as once a week during the hot summer months.
Apply a balanced liquid fertilizer in the spring, as new growth starts to emerge.
Deadhead the spent blooms as they fade. Any dying leaves can also be removed as and when you notice them. This helps to keep the plant looking neat and tidy. Once flowering has ended for the year, prune back hard. Pruning back rejuvenates the foliage, encouraging a healthy display the following year.
Gemus spread by rhizomes, setting out side shoots as they develop. These side shoots can be dug up and replanted, creating more plants.
How to Divide Geum Plants
After 3 years of steady growth the clumps can start to look bare in the center. While unsightly this is easily cured.
In the spring, dig around the plant before carefully lifting it from the soil. Use a sharp knife to cut away the healthy, outer sections. The heart, which is the oldest part of the geum, can be discarded. Each separated section should have a healthy amount of roots.
Replant the divided sections as described above.
Dividing every 3 years not only helps to keep plants healthy, it also encourages lots of long lasting flowers to develop. If you fail to divide your plants there is a danger that they will become overly woody and die.
You can also propagate the plants by lifting the side shoots.
Growing Geum Plants From Seed
While young plants are available to purchase from garden stores, you can also grow geum plants from seed. You can also harvest your own seeds from the spent flowers. Allow the seeds to mature and ripen before harvesting. Seeds harvested too early are not viable.
As the flowers fall from the plant, seed heads form.
You can sow the seeds directly into the garden until 2 months before the first frost. Alternatively, you can sow the seeds undercover in Seed Starter Trays or pots filled with a seed starting soil mix such as Black Gold Seedling Mix. Start seeds undercover 6 to 8 weeks before your last forecasted frost date.
Moisten the soil or seed starting mix before scattering the seeds as evenly as possible. I find that moistening the soil helps the seeds to stick in place. Cover with a light layer of soil or horticultural sand.
Germination takes 21 to 28 days. The ideal temperature range for germination is 68 to 86 ℉. Germination will be slower in colder temperatures.
Following germination continue to keep the soil evenly moist. A watering can with a gentle spray or a Plant Mister should be used to help avoid drowning and displacing the seeds. Once the seedlings are large enough to handle thin them out.
Continue to grow seedlings on undercover until the last frost has passed and you are ready to plant out.
If correctly spaced out and cared for the geum is a trouble free plant.
Slugs and snails rarely target the coarsely textured foliage.
Plants growing in pots can fall victim to vine weevil. Vine weevil infestations are easy to notice. Adult weevils eat notches in the foliage in the spring and summer. The grubs eat roots, causing the plant to die. Infestations are best treated with nematodes.
You can also purchase chemical vine weevil killers. However these contain systemic pesticides that harm bees. If you choose to use a chemical treatment, remove all flowers from the plant for 6 months after applying. This helps to protect the bees from the chemicals. If infestations become severe, lift and destroy the plants. Do not place the plants on the compost heap.
Easy to care for, avens are a long lasting, colorful flower.
A great way to introduce long lasting color to the garden, avens are a reliable way to enliven flower beds and borders. A reliable companion plant for hellebores, lace flowers and primroses, the geum plant is also a worthwhile inclusion in rock gardens, butterfly gardens, container gardens and cut flower gardens. Avens easy going nature and heavy flowering habit makes it both a rewarding and vibrant addition to any garden.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.