'Charm' Heron's-bill


'Charm' is a cultivar of Erodium chamaedryoides, synonymous with E. reichardii . Shown in this June photo at least twice life size, it actually looks like a dollhouse-scaled Crane's-bill Geranium, with its perfect five-petalled flowers exactly like those of its larger cousins, but no bigger than a pinky fingernail. It clumps to only one or two inches tall.

Even the scalloped leaves come close to being geranium-like, though a bit elongated to be an exact miniaturized duplicate, & if hardy crane's-bills often have somewhat maple-like leaves, 'Charm' heron's-bill is more toward oakleaf-like.

One of its common names, "Baby Swiss Geranium," captures perfectly the extremely miniature geranium-like quality. Bonsai practitioners like it as it fits nicely under dwarfed trees. It is hardy enough for small container gardening or as a houseplant, though it is best in the garden.

Erodiums are usually called Heron's-bills or Stork's-bills, for the same reason hardy geraniums are called Crane's-bills, because of long beak-like seedpods.

'Charm's' flowers are generally white with deep rose-colored veins, but often the rose bleeds into the petals, so it is light pink with deep magenta veins, both hues of blossoms occurring right on the same tiny clump.

We've three little clumps in front of an aquatic forest bowl. The clumps spread slowly, but each one can eventually cover a one-foot circle of ground quite easily.

It can stand winters down to ten degrees, & attempts to be evergreen through winter in moderate climates. It can sometimes bloom year-round though on Puget Sound it has quiescent periods in winter & in high summer.

Though it wants lots & lots of sunlight, it is nevertheless delicate in too much heat. The one thing it does not share with its bigger cousins is extreme hardiness. It is a tender perennial that will generally die out of the garden at the first sign of stress. It is sometimes recommended for small containers merely so it can be brought in & wintered in a sunny windowsill, or grown as a terrarium plant so that it will never experience extremes.

Ours is positioned in a very well protected location. So I'm keeping my fingers crossed it spreads into a nice carpet & makes through many winters to come without trouble.

See also:
Erodium variabile 'Album'
Erodium variabile 'Bishop's Form'


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