There is a lovely native alternative for your garden. While not as showy as many cultivated varieties, the Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum) has the advantage of being a perennial plant that has evolved in Eastern North America. This shade-loving plant can be found naturally in woodlands, along woodland edges, in savannahs, and in partially shaded meadows throughout parts 34 states and three Canadian Provinces.
|Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum)|
The Wild Geranium is low plant reaching a height of one to two feet. It spreads by both seed and underground rhizome, but is not an aggressive plant. With time it can form extensive colonies, but will not crowd out other native species.
|A Wild Geranium colony|
Wild Geranium blooms from May into June in Mid-Michigan and bridge the gap between the spring ephemerals and summer blooming wildflowers. Its flowers have five lavender petals are lined with nectar guides and attract a number of bee species to open blooms. The flowers grow in clusters of two to five and rise up above the plants leaves. Each flower is 1 to 1.5 inches across. The flower stems and sepals are covered with fine hairs.
|A small native bee gathering Wild Geranium pollen|
The coarsely toothed leaves of the Wild Geranium are separated into five or six lobes, with each lobe separated by deep indentations. Leaves are arranged a basal cluster. There is also a single pair of leaves arranged oppositely on the stem of mature plants.
|Note the deeply lobed basal and stem leaves|