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Geum Plant Growing & Care Guide for Gardeners

Article by Dean Ravenscroft, Ph.D. - Updated 19th Oct 2023

In this Gardener's HQ guide, we'll explore cultivating Geum plants in your garden, indoor spaces, and other settings.

At a Glance: Avens
  • Plant Characteristics: Avens, often simply known by their genus name of Geum, exhibit colorful, saucer-shaped flowers atop slender stems. Their cheerful appearance and extended blooming season helps add a splash of vibrancy to gardens.
  • Ideal Growing Conditions: Locate in full sun to partial shade. Plants thrive in fertile, well-draining soil. Though moisture is appreciated, they're resilient once established.
  • General Care: Regular watering aids in keeping plants lush, especially in their initial stages. Deadheading can help to prolong the blooming phase.
  • Tips for New Gardeners: Avens are a relatively fuss-free choice, suitable for novices. Their dependable growth and adaptability makes them a delight. Look out for pests such as leaf beetles.

Avens: Cultivation & Garden Use

Geum plants are hardy perennials that range from 6 to 36 inches (15 to 90 cm) in height.

They bloom in the summer, when carrying circular red, white, purple or yellow flowers.

Geum pentapetalum
Geum pentapetalum by kabacchi.

Examples of Geum species include Geum triflorum (Prairie smoke), Geum chiloense (Chilean avens), Geum borisii (Avens 'Borisii') and Geum aleppicum (Common avens, Yellow avens).

Geum triflorum
Geum triflorum - Prairie Smoke by gmayfield10.

Commonly grown species in the garden include Mountain Avens; Wood Avens; White, Yellow, and Purple Avens; and Alpine Avens.

How to Grow Avens and other Geum Plants in the Garden

If growing Avens and other Geum plant species from seed, then sow outdoors at either the start of spring or in autumn;. Lightly cover the Geum seeds once sown.

Avens likes to grow in sunny areas of the garden that has good drainage. They can tolerate partial shade in hot climates.

Ideally the soil that the plant grows in will be rich, and slightly acidic to neutral pH (5.5 to 7).

If first growing indoors, then sow Geum seeds about 10 weeks in advance.

It should take three to four weeks for Avens to germinate at 18 to 21 degrees centigrade (64 to 68°F).

Once ready, transplant plants into the garden at the start of spring or autumn. Ideally use a spacing of 30 to 45 cm (12 to 18 inches).

Caring for Geum Plant

Geum plants, such as Purple and Mountain Avens, are easy to grow and look after. It is a good idea to remove dead flowers to prolong blooming and to help keep them tidy.

Supply a mulch in winter. When the plants begin to look tired (after about four years) divide them to maintain vigor.

If you require more plants then propagate by division in the autumn.

Geum Species

Geum urbanum

Geum urbanum
Geum urbanum (Wood avens / Herb Bennet / Colewort / St. Benedict's Herb ), photograph by Andreas Rockstein; CC.

Geum reptans

Geum reptans
Geum reptans (Creeping Avens), picture by xulescu_g; CC.

Geum triflorum

Geum triflorum
Geum triflorum (Prairie Smoke / Three-flowered Avens / Old Man's Whiskers), picture by Patrick Alexander; CC.

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Geum Plants Growing and Care Guide

Common Names: Avens, Geum, Prairie Smoke, Herb Bennet.
Life Cycle: Hardy perennial.
Height: 6 to 36 inches (15 to 90 cm).
Family: Rosaceae.
Native: Worldwide.
Growing Region: Zones 2 to 9.
Flowers: Late spring and summer.
Flower Details: Red, yellow. Saucer-shaped. Egg-shaped.
Foliage: Herbaceous. Green. Fuzzy. Flabellate.
Sow Outside: Cover seed. Start of spring - before the last frost, or the beginning of autumn. Spacing 12 to 18 inches (30 to 45 cm).
Sow Inside: Germination time: three weeks to one month. Temperature: 65 to 70°F (18 to 21°C). Two months in advance. Six or seven weeks before expected last frost. Transplant outdoors following before last frost or in early autumn.
Requirements and care: Full sunlight (hot areas: light shade). Good drainage.
Soil pH 5.5 to 7.0. Rich soil. Deadhead. Winter mulch in colder areas. Divided every three years in order to maintain vigour. Propagate: by dividing in the autumn.
Miscellaneous: Members of the Geum genus are attractive to many kinds of butterfly including the Grizzled Skipper.

Common Questions

How many members does the Geum genus have?

The Geum genus contains about 50 species.

Do members of Geum make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Yes, Geum are popular for their bright, small flowers and are good for borders or rock gardens.

Which Geum species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

The most commonly grown species is Geum quellyon, also known as Chilean Avens or Scarlet Avens.

Are members of the Geum plant genus fragrant?

Generally, Geum flowers are not known for having a fragrance.

What is the perfect location to grow Geum?

Geum prefers full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil. They also like a bit of moisture.

Is Geum invasive in the USA, if so in which states?

Currently, Geum is not recognized as invasive in the USA.

How do I remove Geum plants from my garden?

To remove Geum, dig out the plant, making sure to remove as much of the root system as possible.

Summary

The Geum genus, also known as Avens, is part of the Rosaceae family. Originating from Europe, Asia, North and South America, these perennials are known for their vibrant, saucer-shaped flowers and ornamental leaves.

Plant Geum in early spring or fall, in a location with full sun to part shade and well-drained soil. Regular watering, especially in dry periods, will promote healthy growth and blooms. Deadhead spent flowers to prolong the blooming period.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Geum plants. You may also enjoy the following Rosaceae (rose family) growing guides: How to Grow Rugosa Rose, Polyantha Roses, Waldsteinia, and Aruncus dioicus plants.

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