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Mid-Atlantic Gardening: Perennial Geraniums as Groundcovers

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Protect soil with perennial groundcovers that double as “living mulch.” Perennial geraniums are low-maintenance, season-long beauties.

Orkney Cherry geranium and golden oregano form a pleasant combination.

By Julie Martens

One of my favorite combinations is a pair of low-maintenance perennial groundcovers: Orkney Cherry meadow cranesbill geranium (G. ‘Orkney Cherry’) and golden oregano (Origanum vulgare ‘Aureum’). The bronze geranium and sizzling-gold oregano look gorgeous all season long in the Mid-Atlantic. I also like this combination because these plants scramble and sprawl to blanket soil. The geranium forms a modest 2-ft-wide mound, while the oregano spreads as far as 3 ft.

Perennial groundcovers act like “living mulch.” They moderate soil temperature, help suppress weeds, and slow water evaporation. Check out these other perennial geraniums that fill groundcover roles:

Bloody cranesbill geranium (G. sanguineum) should be on your must-have list.

Cranesbill geraniums
These geraniums are the true botanical geraniums—as opposed to the annual geraniums (Pelargonium) we grow each summer. A common one is the bloody cranesbill geranium (G. sanguineum).

Cranesbill geraniums make great additions to the garden. Why are they on my must-have list?

  • Versatility—They grow in full sun to part shade.
  • Foliage—Leaves add terrific texture to plantings, and many don festive fall colors.
  • Flower power—They bloom steadily.
  • Critter resistance—Deer and rabbits leave them alone (although I do cover Orkney Cherry in early spring, when it’s the only thing up).
  • Low-maintenance—They require little care.
Rozanne cranesbill geranium was the 2008 Perennial Plant of the Year.

Rozanne geranium
In my cottage garden I grow the 2008 Perennial Plant of the Year, Rozanne cranesbill geranium (G. ‘Gerwat’ Rozanne).

This beauty boasts nonstop flowers, and a sprawl that can almost overwhelm tiny gardens, like mine. Happily, it handles pruning with ease. Just clip branches to bring the plant in bounds. In fall, foliage blushes in beautiful autumn shades.

Can anyone identify this perennial geranium?

Mystery geranium
I just added this small-flower beauty to the back perennial garden, a few feet from Orkney Cherry. Sadly, I have no idea what this charmer is.

This perennial geranium has silvery-gray-green leaves, and flowers that sparkle in deep pink. Both blossoms and leaves are roughly nickel-size.

Have you ever grown perennial geraniums? Can you help identify my newest one? I’m thankful for clues!

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