Caring For Geranium Sanguineum (Bloody Cranesbill Geranium)

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Geranium sanguineum [jer-AY-nee-um, san-GWIN-ee-um] is a clump-forming herbaceous perennial native to Asia, northern Turkey, and Europe. 

This member of the Geraniaceae family has become very popular in the United States. 

Bloody Cranesbill Geranium SanguineumBloody Cranesbill Geranium Sanguineum

It may be the most commonly planted geranium species in the US today.

The plants’ genus name is derived from the Greek, geranos, which means crane. 

The specific epithet, sanguineus, is Latin and means blood red. 

This is a reference to both the color of the flowers and the color of the leaves in the autumn.

Common names include:

  • Bloody Cranesbill
  • Blood Red Cranesbill

These names are both references to the fruit of the plant, which resembles a crane’s beak.

Geranium Sanguineum Care

Size & Growth

Bloody Cranesbill usually grows to be between 9″ and 12″ inches high. 

Its trailing, hairy stems spread to form a mounding plant as wide as 2’ feet across.

Flowering & Fragrance

The showy flowers bloom throughout May and June. 

Bloody cranesbill geraniums range in color from pink to reddish-purple with deep magenta spots in the centers of the petals. 

Each flowers about 1.5″ inches across. 

Plants may bloom sporadically throughout the summer months.

The small, fragrant leaves provide attractive autumn interest as they transition to variable shades of red.

Light & Temperature

Blood Red Cranesbill can do well in partial shade to full sun. 

It is winter hardy in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 9. 

The plant tolerates extremes in both heat and cold better than other types of geranium.

Watering & Feeding

  • Geranium sanguineum has medium water requirements. 
  • The plant prefers evenly moist soil, and you should be sure to keep it watered during unseasonably dry weather.
  • Early in the springtime, side-dress your plants with organic amendments and/or compost as new growth emerges. 
  • Alternately, you may wish to provide a light application of a slow-release or balanced fertilizer.
  • During lengthy rainy seasons, Bloody Cranesbill may require supplementation with nitrogen.

Soil & Transplanting

These perky geraniums are easy to grow in average, well-draining soil with medium moisture. 

While the plant can tolerate a bit of drought, it will grow best in humusy, moist soil allowing good air circulation.

The best time for transplanting is early spring, divide mature plants or simply cut off any side shoots having roots and replant them. 

Growing & Maintenance

Blood Red Cranesbill has very low maintenance requirements. 

While you could deadhead the flowers if you wish, it’s probably not necessary unless you wish to prevent self-seeding. 

These geraniums do not always self-sow, but they will do so under ideal conditions. 

Control the spread of the plant by removing side stems throughout the growing season. 

Prune as you wish to control the size and encourage an aesthetically pleasing shape.

In the springtime, you may wish to provide support for taller specimens. 

Throughout the summer, remove dead or yellowing leaves for a more aesthetically pleasing appearance.

At the end of autumn, cut the plant to the ground. 

Mulch to protect the roots from freezing in very cold environments.

Propagation Of Bloody Cranesbill Geranium

Bloody Cranesbill is propagated by seed, tip cuttings, or by division.

Bloody Cranesbill Geranium Main Pest or Disease Problems

When provided with ample sunlight, good air circulation, and well-draining soil, you are unlikely to encounter any disease or insect problems with geranium sanguineum. 

If overcrowded, overwatered, or kept in very humid conditions, these plants may be susceptible to problems with rust and leaf spot.

Is This Plant Toxic or Poisonous?

Although this particular type of geranium is not considered poisonous, it is also not considered edible. 

Furthermore, most members of the Geraniaceae family are considered toxic to cats, dogs, and horses by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Is This Plant Invasive?

Even though Bloody Cranesbill spreads enthusiastically, it is not officially considered invasive. 

Even so, avoid having it spread beyond your garden setting. 

If given the opportunity, any plant will adapt and has the potential to become invasive.

Geranium Sanguineum Uses

This pretty, easy to grow geranium resists predation by rabbits and deer. 

It is also attractive to hummingbirds, butterflies, and other pollinators.

It makes a great addition to a pollinator or butterfly garden or naturalized in a wildlife garden. 

It is an attractive and whimsical groundcover in a small area.

Bloody Cranesbill is an excellent choice as an underplanting for shrubs and rose bushes. 

It makes a good border plant and is stunning and carefree in a mass planting.

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