Plant Description

Geranium phaeum

Geranium phaeum

Geranium phaeum, hailing from the mountains of southern and central Europe is one of the species Geranium which does well in Sydney gardens. It forms a mounded clump 40-60 cm tall with soft, lobed leaves and grows and blooms well in shade, even dry shade, as well as in sun. The basic species has deep purplish-black flowers, which are quite unusual. The colour of the blooms has given rise to the common name of 'mourning widow'. The flowering season is quite long: it begins to bloom in my garden in September and continues into January.

I have used this plant in a border of silver, white and purple-black leaves and flowers, and have it growing nearby Ajuga 'Black Scallop'; it could also look good nearby gold foliage plants or lime-coloured flowers. Some forms have dark markings on the leaves and the cultivar 'Samobor' has leaves splashed with dramatic dark markings. There are also apparently gold-leaved and variegated-leaved cultivars, though I have yet to see them. There are also cultivars with white or slate-blue to lilac flowers. It self-seeds at times, but doesn't become a nuisance. You can cut the plant back to the ground after flowering and it will produce a neat mound of new leaves and sometimes a second flush of blooms. The plant can be propagated by division or by potting up self-seedlings.

 

Geranium phaeum
Flowers from September to January.
Plant Family: Geraniaceae