Happy hour that goes on for weeks –
Cocktail Series Geums are addictive.
Looking for a plant that sails through heat and survives 20 below zero temps? How ’bout a perennial that bugs don’t eat, and deer and rabbits never touch? Top that off with a super long bloom season (at least in the warm days and chilly nights of the North) and very low maintenance too. Sound awesome? It is! Geums are workhorses in the early season garden, and the Cocktail Series cultivars from Intrinsic Introductions infuse fresh colors that will keep you fascinated.
Knowing I’m besotted with his Mai Tai, Brent at Intrinsic sent me some newer Geum introductions last year. As any perennial gardener knows, the first season in the ground, you really don’t get much impact from a new plant. Cosmopolitan looked really nifty – all 10 blooms it produced. Immature plants love to tease you with a peek at what’s to come. He also tucked in Gimlet, Banana Daiquiri, and Sea Breeze. All of these were a surprise. I just wanted more Mai Tai and some Flames of Passion. I thought the red Flames, and the warm cream/coral/shrimp/peach/ burgundy eruption that is Mai Tai would look hot together. They do, by the way, and I’ve taken a huge liking to Flames of Passion as well.
So after a year of root development, I can say that I’m in love with Cosmopolitan Geum too. It’s softer in color than Mai Tai, but still has deep burgundy red stems and calyx on the back side of the pastels blooms that morph from one coloration to another from bud burst to disintegration. Both of these cultivars have multiple personalities. Once they start blooming, you’ve got a multi-hued bouquet still attached to the plant that is widely varied yet color coordinated. You can’t possibly get bored with these two Geums! Even what is left atop the stem once all the petals have fallen remains ornamental for a while.
And something I’ve noticed this spring is that Geum blooms face out in a circle no matter where you plant them, which is really cool, because it shows you a ‘front’ no matter what way you view it. Most plants face their flowers where the sun is strongest. Something that is very noticeable on the east or west side of a building in the foundation planting – the blooms all face the sun, not the wall. Not Geum, they break the mold. It’s something that isn’t as easily seen until the plant has matured a bit – year 2 on some, others it appears in year 3. With Mai Tai and Cosmopolitan this circular facing bloom thing actually heightens the color show because of their dark red stems and calyxes.
The image at the top of the page is Geum ‘Gimlet’. It has paler yellow petals than Banana Daiquiri, and taller bloom scapes too. The flowers are much smaller than Mai Tai and Cosmopolitan, but have their multi-layered petal look. Gimlet is a fetching whisper yellow, which I’m looking forward to watching mature. Might need more of those Brent, have to figure out what to pair up the flower show with 😉
The blooms on Sea Breeze are huge! The petal color is approaching red thanks to the chilly nights at the 45th Parallel. They will be more orange in warmer zones. This one starts blooming a bit earlier than Gimlet, Banana Daiquiri, and Limoncello. Limoncello isn’t far behind Sea Breeze at popping into flower, and has much bigger blooms than the lighter hued Gimlet and Banana Daiquiri.
Left To Right: Limoncello, Banana Daiquiri, Gimlet, Sea Breeze
Banana Daiquiri is a nice light yellow with fewer petals than Gimlet, and shorter bloom stems. It blooms for about the same amount of time as Gimlet. How long is that? Sorry! I didn’t write down when they started tossing out color. After Sea Breeze by about a week or more, and all three of the former were finished before Limoncello. It could be where they’re planted right now, but Mai Tai and Cosmopolitan are still in full bloom, as is Limoncello, while Sea Breeze, Banana Daiquiri, and Gimlet are done or winding down. These three cultivars don’t morph bloom colors from opening to finish, but deserve a prime spot for early color in your garden.
I have a feeling those Gimlet Geums may make the perfect partner with burgundy heucheras and short purple alliums. Not much else is blooming when Geum is at it’s finest. The rest of the season it is a superb, well-mannered mound of cut and pleated leaves. You couldn’t ask for an easier to keep plant. Just cut back the spent bloom stems and enjoy the greenery for the rest of the season. Geums are hardy in zones 4-8. The best soil is rich and well drained, but they will tolerate average garden soil, and even sand if you water religiously and well every day good rainfall doesn’t present itself. Not it’s preference, but I’ve been growing geums in really sandy soil for several years and they do deal with it quite well.
Trademark & Nomenclature
Geum Cocktail ™ Series
- Geum x Cosmopolitan
- Geum x Gimlet
- Geum x Banana Daiquiri
- Geum x Limoncello
- Geum x Sea Breeze