Geranium sanguineum is often referred to as bloody geranium. The reason for this is because of its red flower color and its leaves turning into shades or red in the fall.
While that may not seem like a nice imagery, the resulting plants are wonderful to look at during this time of year. Thus, many growers have this beautiful flowering plant.
They typically grow to about a foot to just under 2 feet tall and grow in clumps spreading to about 24 inches wide. Their blooms can vary from 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter. And, you’ll see them during May to October.
Native to Europe and Asia, these are the most common geraniums you’ll see in the U.S. They are often used for borders, ground cover or underplanting for some shrubs and bushes.
Geranium Sanguineum Plant Care
Geranium Sanguineum Light Requirements
Geranium sanguineum does well in both full sun and half shade. It is more versatile than some other geraniums in this respect as it is less fussy about light and temperature.
This means you can leave it under full sun without being afraid of hot summer days because it can tolerate extreme heat.
As such, it doesn’t mind being placed in the south, west, east or north locations. It likewise won’t bother if you keep it exposed or sheltered, which can sometimes be a problem with some geraniums that cannot tolerate the warmer regions of the country.
That said, light shade is best when it comes to growth and flower production.
This means it needs plenty of light. But, during the hottest times of the day or months of the year, placing it under some kind of shade is ideal.
Temperature & Humidity
Geranium sanguineum grow best when temperatures are between 50 to 75 degrees. The lower half of that range is for night-time, whereas the daytime temperatures stay on the mid to upper range.
That said, this is a hardy geranium. As such, it can tolerate cooler conditions down to between -20 and -30 degrees Fahrenheit.
This manes that it does well in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 9. As such, it gives many regions of the country the ability to grow it in the garden all year round.
What’s great is that it can also tolerate the hot summers. So, there’s less of a worry with regards to temperature when compared to many other geranium varieties and hybrids.
The plant blooms between late spring to late summer. Then, in the fall, its flower turns red while its leaves transition into shades of the same color. This is where it gets is name.
As such, if you want to add beautiful red hues to your garden during the fall, the Geranium sanguineum is what you want to have.
How Often to Water Geranium Sanguineum
Geranium sanguineum grows best in moist, well-drained soil. It can tolerate some dryness, but not for an overly extended period of time.
As such, regular watering is a good idea as long as you don’t let the soil stay wet nor soggy. During the summer or if you live in warmer parts of the country, make sure to keep it watered.
If you have new plantings, they’ll need more water, at least in the beginning. This means watering daily. If your soil retains water, you’ll need to adjust this to every 2 to 4 days or so.
Be aware that clay soil holds more water. As such, it is more important to avoid overwatering in these conditions. You can likewise use compost to improve the soil. But, this takes a bit of time to amend.
Watering Geranium Sanguineum
Geraniums like deep watering. This allows the moisture to reach their roots.
In the Garden
In the ground, soak the soil up to about 8 inches deep then allow the top 2 to 4 inches to dry before watering again. Don’t water little by little every day.
This will discourage the roots from digging down into the ground. As a result, you have a weak foundation. Instead, you want the roots to go as deep as they can.
To test for soil dryness, you can either stick your finger into the soil down about 2 to 4 inches. I find it easier just to use a trowel to get to that point. It lets you easily see and feel for moisture are that depth.
You can use a watering wand or soaker hose to give you better control. If you have a large plot or yard, then a sprinkler may be needed.
Keep in mind that you don’t want to water the entire plant. Instead the goal is the soil around it, typically the root zone (which is the area about 6 to 10 or so inches around the plant.
Indoors or In Containers
If your Geranium sanguineum is in a container, the same rules apply. This time, you’ll wait until about the first 2 inches of the top soil dries up before watering, never before that.
When watering, soak the root ball so it gets saturated with water. Then allow it to completely drain via the drainage hole before putting it back in its place.
Finally, water in the morning. At the latest, soon after lunch. This will give the moisture time to dry thanks to the sun and warmer weather. Although, afternoon sun will cause more evaporation.
If you water late in the day or at night, it will increase the risk of mold and fungal disease. Both of which weaken your plant and damage it as time passes.
Soil for Geranium Sanguineum
Geranium sanguineum produce the most flowers when they live in moist, well-draining soil. Ideally, you want rich, fertile soil. So, something that is loamy or humusy works really well.
Of these features the ability to drain excess moisture and stay moist are the most important. It won’t mind as much if you have average soil.
That said, they can tolerate drought. This is one reason why some of them are grown in xeriscapes. But, if you want them to bloom at their best, consistent moisture goes a long way.
In containers, use potting soil not garden soil. This will let you control the consistency of the mix as well as its texture.
Just as importantly, because most potting mixes are soil-less, you need to make sure about fertilizer. Unlike garden soil, potting mix does not contain any nutrients. The exception here is that if you just got the plant from the nursery, where they often add some starter fertilizer.
Geranium Sanguineum Fertilizer
Fertilize your Geranium sanguineum during the growing season. You can use slow release or liquid fertilizer depending on which your prefer.
Slow release will allow you to feed less often. This comes out to once in spring and another time around summer. Avoid fertilizing your Geranium sanguineum late in its growing season as you don’t want it to be growing when first frost arrives.
When it comes to product, you can go with a balance formulation. If you want to promote blooming, you can opt for 10-20-10 or 5-10-5. Make sure not to overfeed the plant as it can produce leggy plants.
It is likewise a good idea to use compost to amend the soil. This will help reduce the amount of fertilizer you’ll need to use.
Geranium sanguineum are low maintenance when it comes to pruning. You can deadhead the faded flowers if you wish. But, it is not necessary to do so.
However, be aware that in certain situations, the plant can self-seed. As such, growers, will remove side stems during the growing season to prevent this from happening.
The plant is a long-living perennial. It is a slow grower in the beginning. But, the blooms are definitely worth the last because the start from spring all the way until fall. This keeps your garden or home looking bright and colorful.
You can likewise prune your Geranium sanguineum to control its size and shape.
Finally, depending on the time of you will want to trim the plant.
- In summer, remove any yellow, brown or dead leaves. This includes unhealthy leaves as well.
- In fall, cut it back to the ground and add a layer of mulch to protect it from the winter frost.
Geranium Sanguineum Propagation
Geranium sanguineum can be propagated from cuttings, division or seed.
For the most part, division is a popular choice because doing this every 3 to 5 years improves the plant’s ability to produce flowers. Division is likewise a good way to limit it from spreading in your garden.
The best time to divide this hardy geranium is during spring to early summer. This will give it time to overcome the shock of the process and establish its roots before first frost comes around.
Here’s how propagate Geranium sanguineum via division.
- Dig up the plant from the ground.
- Brush off and remove any excess soil from its roots.
- Pick the section or sections you want to separate. You want to trace the stems down to the root ball and see where their roots come out. This will allow each of the sections to have both roots and leaves.
- Use a sterile know for cut the sections apart from the mother plant.
- Plant of the sections as well as the mother plant into their own plats.
How to Repot Geranium Sanguineum
If you grow your Geranium sanguineum in containers, you’ll need to repot them once they outgrow their living space. The easiest way to tell is by looking at the drainage holes at the bottom.
If roots are coming out of them, it is time to repot. This often takes 3 or so years to happen depending on the living conditions you’re providing it.
When you do repot, make sure to replace the spent potting soil with fresh ones.
Similarly, it is likewise a good idea to dig up your plant and divide it every 3 to 4 years if you grow it in the ground. This encourages blooming.
The best time to repot or transplant these geraniums is during spring.
According to the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), the Geranium sanguineum is toxic to pets including dogs, cats and horses. As such keep it away from them since you don’t want them ingesting any part of the plant.
Similarly, it is likewise poisonous for people and not edible. So, don’t let young children play or consume them.
Pests and Diseases
Geranium sanguineum don’t have many pest or disease issues. But, they can be prone to mildew and leaf spots. Both are caused by moisture, lack of good air circulation and sufficient sunlight.
As such, you want to avoid overwatering, crowding them together (for airflow purposes) and humid conditions.