There are many cultivars of geraniums available at garden centers. Not to be confused with Pelargoniums that are commonly called geraniums and most often planted in containers, these geraniums are perennial, coming back year after year in our gardens.
Some stay in nice tight clumps and some have a looser, less refined habit. I would like to introduce you to a remarkable geranium that can be used for a variety of purposes.
Geranium ‘Bevan’s Variety’ is a macrorrhizum type and is referred to as a big-root geranium. It is hardy in zones 3 to 8. It has deep magenta sepals that give way to pink flowers. Deeply lobed and rounded, grayish-green leaves (4 to 8 inches long) have 5 to 7 lobes, with each lobe having 3 to 5 notches at the tip.
It grows 8 to 12 inches high, and over time will reach 2 feet across, forming a beautiful carpet. Perhaps one of its best qualities is that it chokes out weeds. It is an ideal front of the border plant, but also mixes well with other plants. And unlike some other geraniums, it does not split open in the center.
This is a most unusual geranium. It grows in sun or shade and is adaptable to all soil types. It is drought tolerant because of its thick rhizomes. Geranium ‘Bevan’s Variety’ grows in what some people call “death spots,” such as beside cement walls or driveways and along gravel pathways, normally too hot for many perennials.
I personally have owned this plant for many years. They do not spread. Instead, they simply get politely larger, at which point they are easy to divide; just pull out a few clumps and plant them elsewhere. To borrow from Timex, it takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’.
It never looks bad. I have it on all four sides of my property. In sun and dryness. In shade with moisture. Nothing kills it, or particularly holds it back. Last bonus: it tolerates some nibbling by rabbits, and deer don’t care for the scent.
Geranium ‘Bevan’s Variety’ is a winner!
• Donna Mack is a University of Illinois Extension Kane County master gardener. Email the extension office at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.