Sun/shade: Full sun to full shade
Soil moisture: Dry to medium
Flowering period: May
Host plant for caterpillar species
In April, patches of green, deeply lobed foliage appear amid the brown and curled leaf litter of the forest floor. The foliage belongs to wild geranium, and soon it will be overtopped by the plant’s abundant pink blossoms, beckoning the bees to commence their spring foraging. Queen bumble bees, shaking off their winter slumber, emerge from their burrows and respond to the call. Over the course of many visits to these and other spring flowers, the queens collect the pollen and nectar which will feed their first offspring and sustain their own activities. Other bees which commonly visit the flowers include spring mining bees, sweat bees, mason bees, and small carpenter bees.
A native constituent of NE Ohio woodlands and woodland edges, wild geranium grows under conditions of partial to full shade and moderate soil moisture. Flowering is best with increased sunlight, and indeed the plant grows well under full sunlight if the soil is kept moist. Spreading via underground stems or rhizomes, wild geranium gradually forms a colony but tends not to exclude other plants. Along with Jacob’s ladder and foamflower, wild geranium is an excellent choice for bringing springtime color and wildlife value to a shade garden.
Photo by Cranbrook Science.