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Growing Avens, or Geum, in the Flower Garden

In recent years, hybrids of Chilean avens (Geum chiloense; Zones 4–9) have catapulted their genus into the spotlight, enabling these perennials to become garden mainstays. Flowering in shades from red to orange to yellow, these substantive geums have been skillfully bred. Not only do they have a graceful and upright form, unending blooms and vibrant hues, but they are deer- and slug-resistant and they make good cut flowers. Many even maintain an evergreen rosette of leaves in the warmer reaches of their growing zone (generally USDA Zones 4–9). 

'Totally Tangerine' lifts its flowers to a height of about 30 inches.

'Totally Tangerine' lifts its flowers to a height of about 30 inches.

These hybrid avens prefer slightly moist soil and sun or part shade. They thrive in moisture-retentive soils; they’ll be grumpy in sand or drought, and they might wilt a bit in hot afternoon sun. Indeed, in the South especially, provide them with midday shade. Avoid planting them in soil that remains wet in winter. 

If geums begin to falter after a few years, dig and divide them in the spring, replanting the divisions. This will rejuvenate the plant. Sterile hybrids bloom the longest over a growing season, because they do not aim to set seed. These include Totally Tangerine, ‘Prinses Juliana’, ‘Sangria’, ‘Mango Lassi’ and ‘Cosmopolitan’. Deadheading non-sterile cultivars can prolong their bloom. Geums may retain their foliage through winter; remove ratty leaves in early spring, as you would for heuchera. 

Here are a few standout hybrid geums:

'Totally Tangerine': Sterile, it can bloom for five months in warm climates, with warm orange flowers to match its name.

Closeup of 'Totally Tangerine'

Closeup of 'Totally Tangerine'

'Mango Lassi’: The flowers open a golden orange-peach and fade to a pretty and long-lasting tawny pink.'Alabama Slammer': Its orange petals are rippled and tipped with red.

'Mango Lassi'

'Mango Lassi'

'Prinses Juliana': Introduced in 1923, this older variety offers fully double flowers and a definitive orange presence for at least four months.

Tempo 'Rose': Rosy pink flowers are set off by very dark stems. 

Tempo 'Rose'

Tempo 'Rose'

Pretticoats 'Peach': Semi-double flowers appear in a light pink/peach color with a hint of yellow. Compact (12 inches) and well-suited to a container.

Pretticoats 'Peach'

Pretticoats 'Peach'

'Alabama Slammer': Its orange petals are rippled and tipped with red.

Image credits: 'Mango Lassi' by Patrick Standish/CC BY 2.0'Totally Tangerine' (both) courtesy of Walters GardensTempo 'Rose' and Pretticoats 'Peach' courtesy of Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc.