URBANA, Ill. - The Perennial Plant Association membership has voted, and the 2015 Perennial Plant of the Year is Geranium x cantabrigiense ‘Biokovo’.
“That is a big name for this excellent groundcover-type perennial that only reaches 6 to 10 inches high,” said Martha Smith, a University of Illinois Extension educator.
’Biokovo’ is a cultivar of Cambridge Geranium and is a naturally occurring hybrid found in the Biokovo Mountains of the Dalmatia region of present-day Croatia.
Blooming in late spring, ‘Biokovo’ has delightful masses of five-petaled white flowers, that are about 3/4 inch diameter, and are tinged pink at the base of each petal and have darker pink center stamens.
“The overall effect is that of a blushing pink geranium,” Smith said. “An interesting attraction is the flower ‘bud’ is somewhat inflated as it is actually made up of the sepals, which are redder than the petals. When the flower opens, the lightly tinged pink flowers provide a handsome contrast to the sepals and stamens.”
She added that the aromatic foliage has rounded leaf edges, is a medium green color, and is semi-evergreen in most climates. “This geranium is a spreading, rhizomatous plant, meaning it does spread by sending out runners. However, not being a deeply rooted perennial, removal is not strenuous. Best garden placement is as a ground cover or in the front of the border. It also does well in rock gardens,” Smith noted.
‘Biokovo’ does well in average, medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Smith said it is easy to grow and only requires deadheading (removing old flowers) to keep it looking good. “It forms an attractive mound that offers scarlet and orange fall colors to your garden. Cut away any dead foliage in the spring and ‘Biokovo’ is ready for the garden season,” she said.
Plant ‘Biokovo’ next to Japanese painted fern. Pick up color echoes between the pink flowers and maroon foliage tones that contrast with the silver streaks in the fern fronds. Smith also noted that this flower pairs nicely with late-spring blooming Penstemon such as ‘Prairie Dusk’ with clear purple flowers or ‘Pink Rock Candy,’ offering bright pink flowers on compact stems.