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How to Care for Cranesbill


Cranesbill seeds quickly lose their ability to grow once they're harvested. It's best to plant cranesbill geraniums from bare root specimens or nursery grown stock rather than from seed.

Cranesbill, also known as cranesbill geranium, is a flowering plant native to the Mediterranean, although the plants can be found growing in temperate regions around the world. The name cranesbill is in reference to the plant's seed head, which is similar in appearance to the bill of a crane in some species. While there has been some confusion over the name, cranesbill is the true geranium, and is very different from the plants of the Pelargonium genus which have been given the common name “geranium.” Cranesbill is easy to care for in the garden, and will bloom in late spring through summer, producing white, pink and lavender flowers.

Plant bare root cranesbill in spring or fall in a location which receives full sun to light shade, and has well-drained soil. Use a garden tiller to mix one cubic yard of organic compost per every eighty square feet into the soil. Space plants two feet apart to allow room for growth.

Apply a 1- to 2-inch layer of mulch to the soil surrounding cranesbill geraniums. This will conserve moisture in the soil and prevent the growth of invading weeds. Use bark mulch, shredded leaves, grass clippings or any other type of organic mulch.

Water cranesbill plants once per week to a depth of 24 inches anytime the temperature exceeds 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Water once every two weeks when temperatures are between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit and once per month when temperatures drop below 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Cranesbill can tolerate drier conditions due to its deep, thick-root system.

Apply a granular iron and sulfur fertilizer, according to the manufacturer's instructions, only if the leaves of the cranesbill plant begin to turn yellow in the heat of summer. No other fertilization is necessary, as long as the soil was properly amended at planting.

Use hedge trimmers to cut cranesbill back to about four inches in height at the beginning of spring and before new growth begins. Remove spent flowers as they die to improve aesthetic appeal, although this will not increase the volume of blooms produced by the plant.

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