Geranium Species, Black Widow, Dusky Cranesbill, Hardy Geranium, Mourning Widow

Geranium phaeum

Family: Geraniaceae (jer-ay-nee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Geranium (jer-AY-nee-um) (Info)
Species: phaeum (FAY-um) (Info)
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Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade

Light Shade

Partial to Full Shade



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)


USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us



Bloom Color:

Dark Purple/Black


Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Mid Summer

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

By dividing the rootball

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse

From seed; sow indoors before last frost

Seed Collecting:

Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Seward, Alaska

San Francisco, California

Macy, Indiana

Somerville, Massachusetts

Grand Marais, Michigan

Pittsford, New York

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Equinunk, Pennsylvania

Newburg, Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania

Richmond, Virginia

Kalama, Washington

New Lisbon, Wisconsin

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Gardeners' Notes:


On Jun 29, 2015, KariGrows from New Lisbon, WI (Zone 4b) wrote:

I like this plant for its lovely leaves, and cute little flowers, but it is trying to compete with my woodland poppy to see who can take over my woodland garden. Luckily both are easy to pull up. It is hardy here in central Wisconsin, and reliable.


On Jun 4, 2010, NancyMcD from Grand Marais, MI wrote:

Although some of the flowers are pretty and all are handsome, I have declared this a public menace in our garden. It simply seeds too freely, and the rhizomes stomp all over the neighbors - and what they don't stomp, they shade. We're in Zone 4, with sandy, slightly acidic soil, and that seems to be just what mourning widow wants. Since I don't want to have to mourn for all my other lost treasures, out it goes. It may be more polite where you live, but please think before planting this.


On Apr 14, 2008, ferncrazy from San Francisco, CA wrote:

This is a hardy, spreading, non-invasive geranium. Both the lovely foliage and flowers contribute to a woodland appearance. It divides easily and loves shade.


On Jul 18, 2007, Weezingreens from Seward, AK (Zone 3b) wrote:

This is one of my favorite hardy geranium. It has a neat clump form in the spring, and the leaves are zoned with a dark pattern. As the season progresses, it takes a much larger spot in the garden, and grows to over 3 feet in height. There are profuse purple blooms that cover the plant. This is an avid self-seeder. In our South Central Alaskan climate, I mulch it for the winter.


On May 17, 2006, TBGDN from (Zone 5a) wrote:

Mourning Widow geranium is an attractive plant coming from mountainous areas of Europe. It is very hardy here and likes evenly moist, lightly acidic soil; it seems to do well in part shade where I have it planted. I grow the white, as well as a dark maroon purple color. Blooms are graceful and somewhat pendulous on thin stems about 12-16" in height. They seem to add a 'woodland' atmosphere to the garden. Both self seed.


On Jul 24, 2003, marykay from Richmond, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

this is a good plant in my area. I have found a mid/late summer shearing will yield a good fall bloom


On Jul 8, 2002, hollymayle wrote:

Vigorous plant that thrives in shady, moist, acidic conditions.

Flowers are highly attractive to bees. Will tolerate pruning to keep foliage healthy and attractive after blooming.

Self-sowing -- generated 10 seedlings that are currently thriving after having been transplanted.


On Sep 10, 2001, Baa wrote:

Clump forming hardy Geranium from moutainous regions of Europe and Western Russia. Has lobed, soft green, slightly hairy leaves sometimes with a purple mark. Bears deep maroon, almost black, violet blue or white, 5 petalled, slightly reflexed flowers up to 1 inch across.

Flowers end April - July with the occasional flower appearing throughout the season.

Likes damp soils in partial shade but not soil that lies wet and will tolerate sun.