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Geranium question  RSS feed

 
                              
Posts: 262
Location: Coast Range, Oregon--the New Magic Land
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In my garden I have a lot of wild geranium--dovefoot and Robert. It grows early in the spring and is compatible with herbs and veggies, it doesn't seem to stunt them. It's great at blocking grass, and grass dies underneath/around it. About now it is dying back so I'm pulling it to mulch and plant something else there like beets or lettuce(the seeds have fallen and will sprout next year).

SO my question, when I pull it and break it up it smells really oily, as in motor oilly, and though the stems are a bright red, my hands get stained black. I was just wondering what chemical might make that oily smell--it only smells when the plant is crushed.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
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i'm not sure if the plants that we have are the same family as you are referring to, I have a lot of hardy geraniums here on my property, but not sure if they are called wild geraniums or not. Mine do not die back. They will bloom and rebloom, esp if they are sheared. They are also called cranesbills. Most of them grow low growing groundcover or mouding forms but a few of mine are upright. All were purchased from mail order or local nurseries so they weren't brought in as wild..but they do spread and are multiplied by birds spreading the seeds.

I totally love them. They make a wonderful low growing cover for birds and small animals..not really sure what eats the seeds, but i'm sure birds and rodents propbably do. The roots are like thin ropes that will completely matt over an underground area..and they are fairly difficult to eradicate, but who would want to.

mine have a blend of pinks, magentas, violet and blue flowers but i think they also come in white and maybe red?

i have never noticed any oily smell..but that might be cause i don't tend to pull them, rather i dig them with a shovel to divide and move them around. I do recommend them among our flower gardens, however, i'm not sure i'd put them in a food gardemn situation, they would also be nice in the woodland as they'll put up with a fair amount of shade, although they'll also grow beautifully in full sun. I havbe them along the road right of way mixed with hundreds of wildflowers and some domestic type flowers and they do beautifully growing more and more healthy every year.

great for erosion control
 
                              
Posts: 262
Location: Coast Range, Oregon--the New Magic Land
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HI Brenda! Yes, the robert type does look like a variation of the cranesbill type. I suppose the dovefoot would be too, but more distant(kinda different "texture" the flowers are pink and very small. This time of year the foliage dies back and dries up, if I pull it off the base(or cut), then it will send out new green, but not near the volume of springtime. Then it sprouts when the rain comes back, farts along little thru winter, then is one of the first plants to bush up green in spring(very welcome!) LOTS of seeds!

ANywas, was curious about the oily smell/dark staining.  Have you found your discourage grass? Here grass seems to HATE the little geranium, it won't grow within it.



 
Brenda Groth
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Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
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i hope it does discourage grass as i have a quackgrass problem  here in my gardens.

i do think you might be right, as where it is growing, i'm not seeing grasses there..i love the hardy geraniums.

in Michigan i don't have to cut them back as they don't die all year..and they turn a most gorgeous bright red in fall.

some of my clumps are probably 8 to 10 feet across and they'll grow a thick mat about 2' high..those are the mounders..the lower growers hug the ground and then there are a ccouple i have that just grow into a single upright plant, Johnson's Blue and a freckly purple one with white markings (would have to look up it's name)..but my favorite are the mounders..as they are absolutely gorgeous..

i imagine if i was to sheer them they would be healthier and flower more often..i'm  kinda lazy that way
 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
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wyldthang wrote:SO my question, when I pull it and break it up it smells really oily, as in motor oilly, and though the stems are a bright red, my hands get stained black. I was just wondering what chemical might make that oily smell--it only smells when the plant is crushed.


The smell is probably some combination of essential oils. I bet the black stains are from tannins, which are probably also responsible for the red color in the stems.
 
Brenda Groth
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Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
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i may try some experiements with the hardy geraniums (which now have an abundance of seed waiting to be harvested).

as it is beatiful and does do a good job of ground cover..i'm thinking of trying to seed it into some really weedy areas around here and see if it does take over and choke out the weeds.

the roots grow like a tangle of ropes..just below the surface of the ground so it would be great for areas of erosion..don't really have any erosion problems here but maybe along our drainage ditch banks might be a good place for it ..to hold the tops of the banks so they don't fall in?

would sure be pretty there
 
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