Erodiums can add a beautiful detail to a site in need of a small scale groundcover. As members of the geranium family, their flowers have a familiar delicacy and beauty. The names Erodium and Geranium come from the Ancient Greek words for “crane” and “heron”, after the shape of the flower and immature fruits, which are shaped like the head and beak of a bird.
These plants are as versatile as they are pretty! They are a great choice for containers, fairy gardens, rock gardens, and alpine plantings, and are a great plant to introduce color into dry, part-shade areas. Try them with Lewisias, or in a container with a dwarf conifer. Imagine them as a cheerful pink bumper alongside your stone path or patio. And best of all, most varieties of Erodium bloom for nearly half the year!
Most commonly available Erodiums are of the species reichardii, and have leaves varying in shape from round to heart-shaped, approximately ½” long and wide, with gently toothed margins. The flowers are small (½” across) and often veined, with white or pink petals. They take a season or so to double in size, and have a clumping growth habit.
A few types of Erodium sometimes found at Portland Nursery include:
Erodium reichardii “Alba”
Grows 3"h x 8"w. This variety has dark green leaves with scalloped edges, and petite white flowers from April to August. Hardy to Zone 7.
Erodium reichardii “Bishop’s Form”
Grows 3"h x 6"w. Bishop’s Form has deep green leaves that trail and hang as they spread. It has abundant pink blooms with defined veins, and flowers through June and July. Bishop’s Form is hardier than other Erodiums, and can tolerate Zone 6 temperatures.
Erodium reichardii “Charm”
Grows 3"h x 8"w. Charm has pink flowers with dark pink veins, and dark green scalloped leaves. It blooms from April to August. Hardy to Zone 7.
Erodium reichardii “Flore Pleno”
3"h x 8"w. This standout variety often has doubled blooms, and tends to have more and more as the plant becomes more established. It blooms from April to August. Hardy to Zone 7.
Grows 8"h x 18"w. This gorgeous species has creamy yellow flowers that bloom from April to October. The leaves are a dusty silver green, and have a more delicate, deeply cut shape than the reichardii varieties listed above. Hardy to Zone 7.
Family: Geraniaceae (Geranium Family)
Common Name: Alpine Geranium, Cranesbill, Heronsbill, Storksbill
Origin: The Mediterranean region has the most diversity of Erodiums, but members of this genus can be found in similar climates around the world.
Culture: Erodiums can succeed in nearly any spot in the yard, as long as they’re not in boggy soil or deep shade. They like sun and fast-draining soils, and should be planted 8-10” apart.
Established plants can be divided in the spring. In late spring, side shoots can be dug from the side of a mature crown. Be sure to include a small attached chunk of the parent crown with the side shoot.
Maintenance: Erodiums require very little in the way of maintenance. When they’re newly planted, they’ll appreciate warm-weather watering. Once established, they’ll take care of themselves, leaving you plenty of time to enjoy their beauty!
Pest and Disease: There are no pests or diseases common to Erodiums.