The Meadow Cranesbill is a hardy, but not evergreen perennial in the Cranesbill family (Geraniaceae) just like Heron's Beard, Rock Stork Beard, Rockwort and Rose Petargonium. The name Geranium comes from the Greek word Geranos, meaning Crane. It's native to Western Europe and Asia. But it's now found in the wild in both the Netherlands and Belgium and is also grown in gardens. It's a hardy perennial, which does lose its leaves in winter. The flowers are pale blue-purple and the leaves are wonderfully fragrant and medium green. This plant needs nutrient-rich and calcareous soil. Furthermore, it can be grown in various types of soil such as: loam, clay, silt or sandy soil. The location should be sunny with semi shade.
After flowering, the Meadow Cranesbill should be pruned back to ensure that it flowers again (from September). It stands up well to air pollution and to sea breezes. This plant is very suitable for plant borders, naturalised gardens and for bee and butterfly gardens. Meadow Cranesbill is very well combined with: Knotweed, Marguerite, Blue Knot, Broom Crown, Brunel, Woodlathyrus, Muskweed, Wild Chicory and Wild Marjoram. This plant is very popular with bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects. It's also a gestation plant for bumblebees, butterflies (various Blues, Pied Bear, Hackled Aurelia and Marsh Fritillary) and several honey bee and bumblebee species. The flower, leaf and seed of the Meadow Cranesbill are all edible. This plant flowers from June till September. Hardy perennial. Height: 30 - 90 cm.
January-March & August-October
Indoor sowing: half January - beginning of March
Outdoor sowing: August - October
Germination: 30 - 90 days
Germination temp.: 5 - 15 °C
Sowing depth: ¼ - ½ cm
Transplanting: early May
Planting distance: 50 - 60 cm
Plant position: sunny - semi shade
Flowering period: June - September (in the 2nd year after sowing)
As the seeds of the Meadow Cranesbill are very hard, it's useful to sand the seeds a little with some sandpaper. This is called scarifying or scarification. This ensures faster germination. Sow indoors from mid-January - early March. Ensure a germination temperature around 5 - 15 °C. The Meadow Cranesbill is a cold germinator. When germinating, be patient and don't throw away the seedling too soon, as germination can easily take 1 - 3 months. From early May, when the seedlings are large enough (about 7½ cm) to handle, they can be put into larger, separate pots. After this, put them outside during the day for about 10 - 14 days from the beginning of May. This will gradually get them used to outdoor conditions. From mid May, as soon as there is no chance of night frost, put them outside in a chalky, sunny place with some semi shade. The soil should be nutrient-rich, moist and with good water retention. Put the Meadow Cranesbill in its permanent position from September onwards. Keep 50 - 60 cm between plants.
Sow outdoors from August - October. The advantage of this is that the seeds experience a natural cold period, which helps with germination. A possible snow cover has the advantage that the seeds easily remain at the right temperature and also stay moist. Provide a well-moist, chalky, nutrient-rich position with sun and semi shade. The easiest method of sowing the Meadow Cranesbill is outdoors in autumn. And not really look after it after that. The plant then emerges naturally in spring. There is then no need to replant it. The Meadow Cranesbill only flowers in the 2nd year after sowing, from June onwards. Prune the plants immediately after flowering, so that a second flowering can take place from September onwards. The leaves of this hardy perennial die back in autumn to reappear in spring. This plant is very popular with butterflies, bees and other beneficial insects. It's also a value plant for several butterflies such as: Brown Blue, Geranium Blue, Icarus Blue, Pied Bear, Marsh Fritillary and the Chickadee Aurelia. And for several bee and bumblebee species.