Last Updated on October 31, 2021 by Phil
Carolina Geranium (Geranium carolinianum) is a member Geraniaceae family. It is also known as Carolina Cranesbill. The plant is native to North America (U.S., Canada, Mexico) and can be found in different areas of the United States.
Depending on where you’re from and what experiences you have with it, you can consider it a summer herb, winter herb, wildflower or weed.
This is the case for many wildflowers who have the ability to spread profusely via self-seeding. As such, they tend to grow without permission in blank spaces and unattended plots.
That said, the herb has long been used by Native American tribes for its medicinal benefits.
As such, how you view the plant actually comes down to what your experiences are with it and how it affects you.
The Carolina Geranium does not come with the beautiful looks and large blooms that many other geraniums do. Instead, it produces small 4 to 5 petaled white and pink flowers during the spring and summer.
Often, it is more recognized for its Palmasect leaves that are arranged in alternative. These leaves measure between 1 to 3 inches long and 1 to 3 inches wide.
The plant itself is likewise short growing to about 1 to 1.5 high. It has long, hairy stems that are green, pink and red in color.
Carolina Geranium Plant Care
Carolina Geranium Light Requirements
The Carolina geranium grows in different lighting conditions. You’ll often see it n shaded places that have dry conditions and away from everything else.
The reason for that is it prefers being left alone. In fact, it is able to grow on its own without any maintenance which is why some gardeners and yard owners don’t like it, it is able to live where other plants can’t.
This is likewise true with exposure. It will do well in full sun, partial shade and even light shade.
Temperature & Humidity
Temperature plays a big part in the plant’s growth. This includes both germination and growing. It does best when conditions stay between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. But, can tolerate cooler climates that go down to 40 to 50 degrees.
Its ability to survive varying temperatures allows it to live in different parts of the country at different times of the year.
In zone 6 and down to the southern regions it grows as a winter annual. That is, its seeds germinate in the fall and the plant lives throughout winter. After that, it does out.
In the norther part of the country, its peak presence is seen during the springtime where it is mostly considered a weed.
That said, the plant does produce nectar which many pollinators including birds are attracted to as their food source.
It mainly grows as ground cover, especially for large yards which have certain areas where most other plants won’t survive. Unfortunately, the Carolina geranium’s ability to grow profusely in sparse areas also makes it a weed in some parts.
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Like temperature water plays an huge role in the plants growth and presence. It mainly survives in dry conditions with full or partial sun.
This is why many untended parts of large yards that are kept dry is where you see it start sprouting.
Thus, is you live in a dry area or prefer a low water garden and need something to grow as ground cover, the Carolina geranium is a good coice.
Soil for Carolina Geranium
Carolina geranium is mostly found in partly shaded areas that are unattended. This includes fields, woody areas, rocky locations and wastelands.
Part of the reason for this is that it does not like competition. As such, it grows better when there are not other plants around it.
Similarly, it is the complete opposite of most plants.
Most plants need moist, fertile soil to grow at their best. Ironically, the Carolina geranium struggles in these conditions.
Instead, it prefers dry, coarse. poor soil that is not fertile. In fact in grows best in sandy, gravely soil. That said, it is likewise able to grow in clay as long as a few of the other conditions are met.
It likewise does not mind too much about soil pH being able to tolerate both acidic and alkaline soil.
From above, you can already gather that the plant does not need fertilizer to grow or spread. In fact, rich, fertile soil with nutrients will deter it from growing.
This means you don’t need to feed it if you’re looking for it to cover some sparse areas of your field.
Keeping the area dry and providing it with poor soil that is coarse, sandy or gravely likewise helps.
Carolina geranium often falls into 1 of 2 categorizes. It either grows as a wildflower or as a weed.
And, it given the right conditions mentioned above, it will grow and cover blank areas of your field or yard.
While it only grows to about 8 to 12 inches tall, it can be invasive in certain parts of the country. This includes areas like Illinois, New York and Kentucky.
In these parts, it will grow aggressively, taking over other plants nearby. Its ability to self-seed allows it to keep spreading. This likewise allows it to survive without being propagated.
In addition, what makes it difficult to get rid of once it grows as a weed is its seeds have a hard coating that protects it from many herbicides. As such, they’re not as easy to get rid of.
Add this to its ability to profusely spread its seeds, and you’ve got a plant that will quickly cover an areas where you may not want it.
Carolina Geranium Propagation
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Carolina geranium are annuals that self-seed. And, they’re fairly good at it which makes them bothersome weeds for many gardeners.
As such, if you happen to want to propagate this plant, you can directly plant their seeds in the fall. It does not take a lot of care or maintenance for it to grow.
As long as the soil is poor and dry, and it is in a partial shaded area it will be able to survive and grow on its own.
That said, if you don’t want the plant to self-seed, the best way to prevent this is to deadhead them. Cutting back the flowers will prevent them from producing seeds that eventually grow as more plants.
How to Remove & Prevent Carolina Geranium
If the plant becomes a bothersome weed, there are a few ways to handle them. Here’s how to remove them as well as prevent them from growing.
Removing Carolina Geranium from Your Property
It has a shallow taproot. As such, you can easily pull it out of the green if you want to get rid of this weed. Doing so will eliminate the main problem.
But, be aware that its seeds can spread if you jerk or violently pull it. So, be careful in taking them out so as to limit spreading the seeds to other parts of your yard, lawn or field.
Should this happen and you find that some seeds get to different parts of your yard where you don’t want them to be, you can use a pre- and post emergent, whichever applies to the situation.
- Pre emergent herbicides prevent weeds from growing by not allowing the seeds to germinate. As such, use this if you want to pre-emptively keep Carolina geranium from growing.
- Post emergent herbicides are for weeds that have already grown.
Carolina Geranium Prevention
If you find that Carolina geranium seeds somehow get into your garden, yard or lawn, you can use a pre-emergent. Apply during the fall and spring to keep these weeds from even developing from seed to weed.
Carolina geranium are edible. In fact, they are used for medicinal purposes. In most cases, it is the plant’s taproot that is used for herbal cures.
It is valued for its anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties. And, it is used by Native Americans for treating infections, wounds and digestive problems.
The plant is likewise high in vitamin K.