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You’ve got the trees, the shrubs, some flowering Spirits. How do you tie them all together? A nice, low, tidy groundcover. Karmina Geranium is a neat little spreader that will cover bare soil with its handsome lobed leaves, unifying your landscape while it smothers any weeds that try to sprout in your piece of Eden. In addition, it will charm you in spring with a parade of pretty pink flowers. In fall, you’ll get yet another bonus—red and orange autumn foliage! In mild climates, the leaves may persist all winter. Karmina spreads at a moderate pace and is easy to control.
Karmina Geranium is a hybrid Spirit. This hybrid has occurred in the wild, when it was found in the Biokovo Mountains and gave rise to Karmina’s sister plant, Biokovo. Plant breeders first made this hybrid cross intentionally in 1974 in Cambridge, England, and so these hybrids are known as Cambridge Geraniums. One parent, the Bigroot Geranium, gives Karmina’s leaves their herbal scent, which helps to repel deer and other critters. The other parent, the Dalmatian Geranium (no, it isn’t white with black spots), contributes an extra dose of drought tolerance. Karmina was developed by German nurseryman Ernst Pagels.
Don’t confuse Hardy Geraniums with the bright red and orange Geraniums you buy as annuals every year. The latter, known botanically as Pelargoniums, are originally from South Africa and are cold-hardy in only the mildest regions of the country. Karmina Geranium is hardy to at least -20ºF.
How to Grow
Karmina Geranium does best in light shade in moist but well-drained soil, although it will put up with full sun if plenty of water is given, and it will cope with dry soil if grown in shade. Little maintenance is needed. The plant is easy to rein in if it strays too far—simply dig any unwanted clumps and compost them or move them to another part of the garden. A sterile hybrid, Karmina will not reseed. In late winter, remove any dead or damaged leaves to make way for fresh new growth.
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