Nationally known plantsman, lecturer and landscape consultant Roy Diblik is co-owner of Northwind Perennial Farm in Burlington, WI, and author of Roy Diblik’s Small Perennial Gardens, the Know Maintenance Approach.

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Prairie Smoke
by Roy Diblik       #Hot Plants

Geum triflorum makes a great companion for Narcissus ‘Lemon Drop’, grape hyacinth (Muscari spp.), Scilla and other early-blooming bulbs.

Geum triflorum is an early blooming, native perennial that provides months of interest. In early to mid-April, you’ll see red flower buds just above the cut foliage, only 4 to 6 inches tall. The whole plant—foliage and the flowers—elongate over time, growing 12 to 15 inches tall. From late April through May, the nodding pink flowers bloom. The best part comes as the flowers mature and the red stamens elongate up to 2 inches, giving the plant its smoky appearance.

This feathery appearance lasts into mid-June, when the seed heads begin to blow away. Geum triflorum does quite well in gravel and in sandy soils. Too much mulch or irrigation will cause it to decline. It died at Northwind. Our soil is too rich. I always like to see the limits plants can ease into. Well-drained, average to dry soil is the answer! This is an under-appreciated plant that will be used increasingly as we value more how we use our water.

Common Name:  Prairie smoke

Botanical Name:  Geum triflorum

Color:  Nodding pink flowers with darker stamens

Blooming Period: Late April through May

Plant Type: Perennial, hardy Zones 3 through 6

Exposure:  Full sun

Size: 12 to 15 inches tall 

When to Plant:   Throughout the growing season

Soil:  Average to dry, well-drained soil.

Watering:  Keep moist until established. Thereafter, does not need supplemental watering.

When to fertilize:  Needs no commercial fertilizer. Nutrients can be provided by mulching with leaf compost every 2-3 years.

In Your Landscape: I like to grow it with spring bulbs such as Narcissus ‘Lemon Drop’, Scilla, grape hyacinth (Muscari spp.) and species tulips (Tulipa). It also contrasts well with emerging foliage of other perennials, such as Amsonia tabernaemontana var.salicifolia.

Reddish-pink, nodding flowers of Geum triflorum are a welcome sight in early spring.


From Wisconsin Gardening Volume II Issue II. Photos courtesy of Roy Diblik.


Posted: 05/30/14   RSS | Print


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