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Geranium Magnificum

Geranium Magnificum - Magnificent Indeed!

Geranium magnificum is unlike any geranium you've ever seen. Although a member of the Geraniaceae family and the genus Geranium, this lovely perennial's blossoms look almost more like those of  the petunia than what is more typical of most geranium species. The full botanical name for this plant is Geranium x magnificum, indicating that it is a cross between two other geranium species, Geranium ibericum and Geranium platypetalum. This hybrid species also goes by the name "Showy Geranium", which fits it to a T, and also is called the Purple Cranesbill, based upon one of the two species involved in its hybridization.

A “Blue” Geranium - When we think "geranium" we usually visualize blooms that are deep red, pink, or white. Not so with this species. There are several varieties of Geranium magnificum on the market, but in general the plant has blooms that vary from dark violet-blue to purple in color and feature showy black veins. One variety, "Blue Blood" has almost a midnight blue color, and still features the attractive black veins. The aforementioned violet-blue blossoms are associated with another variety, "Rosemoor". G. magnificum grows to a height of approximately 24" and is hardy in USDA Zones 5 through 10 but of course can be grown elsewhere in pots, and moved outside during the summer months. It will perform well either in direct sun or partial shade, and typically comes into bloom during the late spring.

Propagated By Root Cuttings - Being a hybrid, the seeds are sterile and the only means of propagating G. magnificum is by root division. When purchasing plants over the Internet or by mail order, expect to receive the plants in a bare root condition. Some have reported that this geranium grows wild in some locations and self seeds, but this is likely another species which may be somewhat similar in appearance.

G. magnificum, the Showy Geranium, has blossoms that are about 2 inches across, twice the width typical of the usual geranium flower. The foliage is also attractive, consisting of fuzzy deeply lobed green leaves.  If the foliage is cut back severely after blooming is done a second growth will follow, which at the end of the growing season will turn fiery red in color.

Characteristics From Hybridization - G. magnificum is a mounding and spreading plant, inheriting these characteristics from G. ibericum, a hardy geranium found in the Caucasus region of the Middle East. G. ibericum, also known as the Caucasian Cranesbill, is noted for its very large blooms, another characteristic carried over to the Showy Geranium. The veins, which add so much to the attractiveness of the blossoms, and the color, come from the other species involved in the hybridization, G. platypetalum, a broad petaled geranium with blue blossoms, also native to the Caucasus and several Middle East countries.

Culture - The Showy Geranium spreads fairly rapidly though its roots. Though not considered an invasive plant, it will tend to smother any weeds growing it its immediate vicinity. In cooler regions, this geranium may only bloom for 2 or 3 weeks each season, but in warmer or coastal climates it will often continue to bloom throughout the summer. Its low-growing, but somewhat mounding habit, makes it an ideal border plant. When planting, the plants should be placed about 2 feet apart for the best effect. Culture is essentially the same as for most geranium species. Its watering needs are about average, though if placed in pots the dirt should not be allowed to dry out, or the plant may go dormant. The plant is relatively disease and pest free, but some care should be taken when watering. Water the plant at the base of the stem rather than overhead, to avoid fungus or mildew on the foliage. G. magnificum is an easy keeper.



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