Plant Profile: Geranium robertianum-Herb Robert
Plants of the genus Geranium are widely appreciated by gardeners. However, there are only three species native to Virginia; perennial G. maculatum (Wild Geranium), annual G. carolinianum (Carolina Cranesbill), and biennial G. robertianum, commonly known as Herb Robert. Displaying pink, five-petaled flowers spring until fall in it’s second year, Herb Robert provides a season-long source of nectar for bumblebees, mason, cuckoo, long-horned, sweat, mining and other bees, flower and dance flies, butterflies and skippers. The attractive fern-like foliage is larval host to numerous butterfly and moth species. Herb Robert also has a diverse history of medical applications, including stomach ailments, ear infections, toothaches, nosebleeds, inflammation, parasites, arthritis, and more.
A reliable self-seeder, Herb Robert can be a vigorous colonizer in shady areas, but is easily removed in areas where it is not wanted. Drifts of the fernlike foliage are a delight to the eye, especially in the fall when the leaves turn red. Another impetus to grow this plant is it’s uncommon occurrence in Virginia and it’s listing as Endangered in adjacent Maryland. Preferring full shade and average soil, diminutive (<2 feet) Herb Robert is easy to establish in the landscape.
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