Geranium pratense 'Dark Reiter’, is a fairly new cultivar originating from the clonally produced 'Midnight Reiter', itself a spin-off of 'Victor Reiter' whose namesake was the legendary California nurseryman.
What sets this plant apart from other Geranium pratense is the new leaves that emerge are a light maroon colour and then fade to a purple-flushed deep green.
Dark Reiter is beautiful geranium with finely dissected reddish-purple foliage. This perennial does best in full sun to partial shade the foliage turns a deeper purple in a sunny location Growing to 38cm (15in) tall by as wide, it produces delicate violet-blue flowers in spring.
The Reiter's strains, originally grown by Victor Reiter are clonally produced plants. Growing from seed produce plants with dark reddish-plum coloured foliage with around 98% consistency. Rogue out any non-purple seedlings that may appear and grow them elsewhere in the garden as they will still produce beautiful plants, but with green foliage.
Dark Reiter is very adaptable to both dry and moist locations, is not particular as to soil type or pH and is somewhat tolerant of urban pollution. It grows at a slow rate, and is long lived, under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 10 years.
It makes a colourful addition to combination containers or the front of the garden. The dark mounds of foliage create an all season interest when plants are not in bloom. Cut back flower stalks after it has finished blooming and enjoy the foliage well into winter.
Sowing: Sow in late winter/late spring or in late summer/autumn.
Fill pots, cells of trays with a good seed starting compost. (John Innes or similar). Sit the containers in water to moisten thoroughly. Sow the seeds 2.5cm (1in) apart, on the surface of the compost and cover seed with vermiculite, sand or sieved compost after sowing. Keep soil slightly moist but not wet. Perennial geraniums often germinate over several months, usually between 30 to 90 days at temperatures around 5 to 10°C (41 to 50°F). Seed trays should not be discarded prematurely. Constant moisture must be maintained. Do not leave in direct sunlight.
Transplant the seedlings into 7.5cm (3in) pots to grow on. Avoid large pots, because the compost will be wet permanently and wetness can a cause growth inhibition and a poor root development.
Overwinter autumn sown seedlings indoors frost free at 3 to 5 °C (37 to 41°F). If outdoors use an outdoor fleece cover to protect the plants.
Plant outdoors in spring after the last expected frosts. Gradually acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 10 to 15 days before planting out into their permanent positions. Space 30 to 40cm (12 to 15in) apart.
In mid summer after flowering rejuvenate plants that are beginning to look jaded by shearing it back, this will promote dense growth and encourage better reblooming. Lift and divide large colonies in spring, March to May
Low-moderate fertilisation levels are required use a complete balanced fertiliser. Avoid high ammonium and high nitrogen levels. Very high nitrogen levels will cause shoot stretching and then the shoots fall apart. Don't fertilise after mid September.
The roots are sensitive to wet substrates which can cause rotting of roots and poor plant quality. Allow for the plants to dry thoroughly between irrigations.
Cottage/Informal Garden, Flowers Borders and Beds, Wildlife / Butterfly Garden. Beekeeping.
Full sun to partial shady locations. Rock gardens, stone walls, perennial borders, ground cover, large containers
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The species pratense is the meadow cranesbill of early summer hedgerows. Native to Europe, Caucasus, Armenia and areas of Asia minor and is cultivated and naturalised throughout the world.
The name Geranium comes from the Greek 'geranion', which is a diminutive of 'geranos' meaning crane. It gets its common name 'crane’s bill' from the 'beak' over the seed pod and is also called storksbill in some areas.
The species epithet "pratense", pronounced pray-TEN-see comes from the Latin for "meadows dweller"or "found in meadows"
It gets its common name 'crane’s bill' from the 'beak' over the seed pod and is also called storksbill in some areas. The name “crowfoot” is often used for geraniums, because the leaves resemble buttercups, which historically were called crowfoots.
Geranium pratense 'Dark Reiter’ originates from the clonally produced 'Midnight Reiter', itself a spin-off of 'Victor Reiter' whose namesake was the legendary California nurseryman.
Victor Reiter was a San Francisco plant collector and a founder of the California Horticulture Society in the 1930s. He is well known for his work hybridising echeverias.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 8 Seeds Family Geraniaceae Genus Geranium Species pratense Cultivar Dark Reiter Common Name Hardy Geranium. Other Common Names Crane’s Bill. Garden Geranium Hardiness Hardy Perennial Hardy Hardy to -15°C (5°F) Flowers Violet-mauve Natural Flower Time May to August Foliage Bronzes, through purples to dark beetroots. Height 30 to 60cm (12 to 24in) Spread 30 to 35cm (12 to 14in) Position Full sun to part shade. Soil Fertile, well-drained Time to Sow Sow in late winter/late spring or in late summer/autumn. Germination 30 to 90 days at temperatures around 5 to 10°C (41 to 50°F).