From the Greek geranos, a crane, because the seed pod resembles a crane’s head and beak (Geraniaceae). Crane’s-bill. A genus of hardy herbaceous summer-flowering perennials with lobed or cut leaves, widely distributed over the temperate regions of the world. They are easily cultivated, free flowering and some are useful rock garden plants, others good border plants.
Cultivation In general, the crane’s-bills are easy to grow, although, as noted above, some of the dwarf species need scree conditions in the rock garden. The others will grow in any kind of soil; most of them do best in a sunny position although G. endressii, one of the finest, as it produces its pink flowers over a very long period, will tolerate a good deal of shade, as will G. aconitifolium, G. macrorrhizum and G. phaeum. The taller species are apt to look a little untidy after they have flowered, and benefit from a trim over, just above the leaves to remove the spent flower stems. This will often result in a second flush of flowers being produced, especially if it is done before the seeds ripen. Most species form clumps (a few are tap-rooted) and these are very easily propagated by division in autumn or spring. With those that form vigorous, wide-spreading clumps, such as G. endressii and G. grandiforum, it is not even necessary to dig up the clumps in order to divide them; it is sufficient to cut away pieces from around the clump and replant these. Seeds may also be sown, either under glass in the cold frame or greenhouse or out of doors, in March or April.
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