Geranium sanguineum

Guide to Growing Bloody cranesbill (Blood-red cranesbill, Bloody geranium)

Geranium sanguineum is a perennial that blooms with pink flowers in the summer.

It is hardy and herbaceous and is known by the common names of Bloody cranesbill, Blood-red cranesbill, or bloody geranium.

Some popular cultivars include Album, Ankum's pride, Shepherd's warning and the variety striatum.

It is a member of the 422 strong Geranium genus, which itself is a member of the ~800 species strong Geraniaceae family; this makes the plant closely related to other garden plants such as Pelargonium and Erodium (Storksbill).

The plant is native to the grasslands, banks and hillsides, deciduous woodlands – and their surroundings – of Europe, and to the temperate regions of Turkish Asia.

Geranium sanguineum can be grown as ground cover, in flowerbeds and borders, and are ideal for growing beneath a light canopy. They look great as part of a rock, cottage, or wildlife garden.

Bloody cranesbill
Bloody cranesbill plant picture by Dan kristiansen.

As they are very easy to look after and maintain they make great plants to grow for novice gardeners and for people who have little time, or difficulties in looking after their garden.

Geranium sanguineum Description Geranium sanguineum Description

Although other members of the Geranium genus may be annuals or biennials, Geranium sanguineum itself is an herbaceous perennial that spreads freely.

It reaches heights of 20 to 50 cm (8–20 inches) and has a spread of about 20 cm (8 inches). It typically takes two to three years for the plants to reach their full size. Stems are erect and hairy, and carry dark green palmate leaves; these are fragrant and turn red in the autumn. Geranium sanguineum plants bloom in late spring and summer.

They carry cup-shaped pink–purple flowers of 2.5 to 4 cm (1 to 1.5 inches) with five radially symmetrical petals.

Geranium sanguineum
Geranium sanguineum photograph by Michael Kappel.

Geranium sanguineum Video

The following Geranium sanguineum video shows a butterfly visiting a Bloody Cranesbill plant.

Growing Geranium sanguineum

Geranium sanguineum Growing Guide

  • Plants are hardy and can grow in zones 4–8.
  • Preferably grow in full sunlight, but will do fine in partial shade.
  • Space at about 25 to 40 cm (10–16 inches).
  • Geranium sanguineum can grow in most soil types but prefers to have good drainage.
  • Sow seeds in the spring. Mix seeds into a growing medium in a flat. Refrigerate for three weeks. Then bury the flat in a seedbed located in a shaded area (after the last chance of frost). Transplant to their final location as seedlings emerge.
  • Cut back leaves and flowers to encourage renewed growth.
  • Pests are not usually a problem but commoner ones include sawflies, vine weevils, and the capsid bug. Plants are susceptible to powdery and downy mildews.
  • Plants are tolerant of rabbits and deer and attract pollinating insects.
  • Further Geranium sanguineum plants can be propagated from root cuttings in early/mid spring, or by division in the spring.

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