Dusky geranium is often sold as Mourning widow geranium due to the dark purple flowers. The popular cultivar 'Samobor' also features a ring of dark purple on its leaves. Dusky geranium is well adapted to shady sites.
This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.
All Common Names:
Tree or Plant Type:
- Ground cover,
- Mixed border
- Large plant (more than 24 inches),
- Medium plant (12-24 inches)
- Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily),
- Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)
- Zone 4,
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7
- Moist, well-drained soil
- Alkaline soil,
- Clay soil
Season of Interest:
- Late spring,
- Early summer
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
Size and Method of spreading
Dusky geranium grows 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 feet tall when in flower. Spread can be 1 to 1 1/2 feet. This is a clump-forming ground cover. Clump-forming ground covers are perennials that can be planted closely together to provide the visual effect of a ground cover. This species also spreads to some degreen through short rhizomes and self seeding.
This ground cover does well in partial to full shade situations. It prefers a moist, well drained soil, but wil tolerate some dryness. Excessive heat can cause the foliage to dieback. This geranium self seeds readily and deadheading can control unwanted seedlings.
Disease, pests, and problems
No serious disease or insect problems.
Native geographic location and habitat
Native to Europe; commonly found in wooded areas.
The leaves are lobed, with jaggedly toothed margins. The general outline of the leaf is rounded. The leaves of the species are green, but some cultivars have purple-banded leaves.
The flowers of this species are small (about 1 inch), with 5 petals. They are a dark maroon or purple. The flowers are held above the foliage. Most of the flowering occurs in early summer.
Fruits are beaked capsules said to resemble a cranes bill. Not ornamentally important.
Cultivars and their differences
Raven dusky geranium (Geranium phaeum 'Raven'): Very dark purple flowers with a white eye.
Samobor dusky geranium (Geranium phaeum 'Samobor'): Maroon-purple flowers; foliage with a purple band.