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Home & garden.

14 Jan 2022

How to grow geums

Geums are easy-to-grow perennials that flower for months on end. Discover our best geum varieties and tips for how to grow them.
CT
Ceri Thomas
Geums

There's been a revival of interest in these hard-working perennials, which are so useful for adding a splash of colour in borders from spring onwards. There has been a lot of breeding recently, and classic older varieties have been joined by a selection of new varieties with more compact habits, neater foliage and different flower colours. We were wowed by their flowering duration in our trial and by what a great display some varieties gave.

Which? Gardening magazine grew a range of popular varieties over two years, to see which would give us the best display.


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Key facts

PLANT TYPE Hardy perennial

POSITION Sun or partial shade

SOIL Any, but not dry

How to grow geum: month by month

JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJune

CUT BACKPLANT/FLOWERINGPLANT/FLOWERINGFLOWERINGFLOWERING
JulyAugustSeptemberOctoberNovemberDecember
FLOWERINGFLOWERINGPLANTPLANT

Best geum varieties

Which members can log in now to see the full results and which are our Best Buy varieties. If you're not a member, join Which? to get instant access.

Best Buy geums
What it looks likeVariety nameHeight x spread
120 x 60cm
Bred by Thompson & Morgan, this variety has stunning peony-like double blooms in shocking red, with yellow centres that are almost lost in a profusion of petals. It started flowering at the end of April and kept producing flowers well into July, which bees and hoverflies loved. This is a large variety, and the habit is a little sprawling. So too are the flowers, which tend to fall as they go over. It’s ideal for adding a splash of hot colour to a border where the foliage will be hidden. Peak flowering: April-July
What it looks likeVariety nameHeight x spread
120 x 60cm
One of the earliest varieties to bloom, this one started flowering as soon as the weather warmed up in March and kept going until mid-July. It produced an absolute wealth of burnt-orange flowers with ruffled petals and a centre of dark stamens, which were attractive to bees and other pollinating insects. It’s a large variety that produces a mound of hairy leaves and boosts the flowers well above them on long stems. Peak flowering: April-July
What it looks likeVariety nameHeight x spread

How we test geums

We chose 23 varieties of geums, including old and new varieties. We grew three of each variety at the Which? Gardening magazine trial garden at Capel Manor in north London, where the soil is well-drained and slightly acidic. The trial began in spring, and we assessed the plants over the course of two summers. The plants weren’t fed, but were watered via drip irrigation. We deadheaded them when needed and trimmed them with shears after flowering finished in the first year. We assessed them for: how long the plants were in flower; how much of a show of colour they gave; whether the individual flowers were eye-catching; if the plant was sprawling or compact; whether the flowers were visited by pollinators; if there were any pest or disease problems.

Caring for your plants

Planting

Geums are unfussy plants and usually robust enough to grow from small plugs. Some of the older varieties can also be raised from seed. They like a fertile soil, enriched with well-rotted organic matter, that doesn’t dry out too much in summer. They do well in either full sun or light shade. 

Plant in autumn or spring. Larger varieties look great in the middle of borders, where the rather scruffy leaves are hidden but the long stems lift the flowerheads to mingle with other plants in the border. Smaller varieties are perfect for pots and the fronts of borders.

Pruning

Cut back any old, tatty foliage from late winter to early spring. 

Watering

Once they are established, geums will deal with short periods of drought but the soil shouldn’t be allowed to dry out completely, so water if there are any long spells without rain.

Geums like to be surrounded by a layer of mulch, such as garden compost or spent mushroom compost, as it helps to conserve moisture and keeps down competing weeds.

Deadheading

Deadhead flowers as soon as they go over, if possible. If this isn’t feasible because there are too many, then wait until the flowers have mostly gone over on a stem and cut that away at the base.

Common growing problems

Vine weevil

Vine weevils are a real problem for geums, particularly if they’re grown in pots. If the plants start to wilt but the soil isn’t dry, check around the roots for the C-shaped white grubs. A biological-control nematode drench can be applied if the soil is warm enough, otherwise use a chemical drench, such as Scotts Bug Clear Ultra Vine Weevil Killer. It’s worth treating geums in pots every year, as it’s likely they’ll be infected.

Read more about vine weevil