How to Plant and Grow Avens

This perennial's flowers look like little roses.

Avens (Geum spp.), also called geum, brightens the spring landscape with its red, orange, or yellow blossoms for several weeks in spring and early summer. Beneath the tall, airy flowers that resemble small roses, low-mounding dark green foliage blankets the soil. Wispy stems and rose-like flowers make avens a charming plant to include in casual, color-packed gardens.

Avens Overview

Genus Name Geum
Common Name Avens
Plant Type Perennial
Light Sun
Height 8 to 24 inches
Width 6 to 24 inches
Flower Color Orange, Red, Yellow
Foliage Color Chartreuse/Gold
Season Features Spring Bloom, Summer Bloom
Special Features Cut Flowers, Good for Containers, Low Maintenance
Zones 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Propagation Division, Seed

Where to Plant Avens

Plant avens in full sun to part shade in organic-rich, well-draining soil alongside other cottage-garden picks, such as bellflower, daisy, heuchera, dame's rocket, delphinium, foxglove, dianthus, hollyhock, and hydrangea.

Avens' airy flowering stems complement the textures found in rock gardens, where the quick-draining soil suits this plant's preferences. Several clumps of this spring-flowering perennial make a bold show of color, or take it back a notch by placing it in random spots.

How and When to Plant Avens

Plant nursery-grown avens or transplant existing plants in spring or fall. In prepared soil, dig a hole slightly larger than the root ball and position the plant at the same level it was in the container. Backfill the hole with soil and gently press down on it to remove air pockets. Water regularly through the first growing season to develop a robust root system.

When growing from seed, direct sow in a prepared garden bed in groups of 3-4 seeds spaced 18 inches apart. Barely cover them. Light aids germination. After germination occurs in 21-30 days and the plants grow a bit, thin the groups to the strongest seedling. Avens seeds can also be started indoors in cell packs or seed flats filled with seed starting mix. Sow the seed and barely cover it. Provide a steady 68°F temperature until the seeds germinate. When the seedlings are strong enough, transplant them to the garden. Note: In general, avens seeds require a period of cold stratification, but most purchased seeds are pre-stratified and can be planted anytime. Plant harvested seeds in the fall (or refrigerate them before planting them in spring) for the cold stratification needed to break the seed's dormancy.

Avens Care Tips


Avens grows best in full sun but can handle part shade. In hot regions, provide some afternoon shade.

Soil and Water

Avens must have well-draining soil. Improve the drainage of a soggy site prior to planting or plant this perennial in a raised-bed garden.

Temperature and Humidity

Avens grows well in warm weather but appreciates some afternoon shade in climates with hot summers. It grows best in average humidity. The combination of the intense heat and high humidity of the Deep South can be problematic for the plant.


After being planted in rich soil with high organic content, avens plants don't need any further fertilizer during the first year. After that, fertilize them once a year in the spring using a balanced, slow-release granular fertilizer, such as one with a 10-10-10 N-P-K ratio. Follow the product directions for quantity and application instructions.


Snip spent flowers as often as possible to encourage reblooming, but consider leaving a few to develop into attractive fluffy seed heads. In cold areas, where the plant dies, cut it back to a few inches above soil level in winter. In warm areas, remove any dead or damaged growth but leave healthy stems in place.

Potting and Repotting

Growing avens in containers is a great way to enjoy these plants on a balcony or patio. In spring, plant them in a large pot that offers excellent drainage and is filled with rich, organic potting soil. Position the pot in full or partial sun. It will need more frequent watering than in-ground plants—even daily during the hottest weather. The plant benefits from a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer applied monthly during spring and summer. In most regions, the plant goes dormant in winter and dies back. Unless it has overgrown its container, it doesn't require repotting at this point, but an application of organic matter when growth resumes in spring is a good idea.

Pests and Problems

With the exception of leaf beetles, which can be plucked off and dropped into soapy water, and aphids, avens doesn't have any serious pest or disease problems. Wildlife is another matter. Deer and rabbits both happily munch on avens any chance they get. Plant avens near a busy area, such as a kids' play area or patio, to discourage wildlife from approaching.

When avens are grown in poorly drained soil, they are likely to experience root rot.

How to Propagate Avens

Avens can be propagated by division or seed.

Divisions: Dividing plants in spring every two years promotes vigor. The divisions will grow and thrive better than a single, three-year-old clump. Division is also an excellent way to acquire more plants for your garden. To divide avens, dig up the plant and its roots. Break off or cut away sections, all of which must contain roots. Discard any weak or damaged sections. Plant the divisions in a prepared garden bed immediately or put them in a bucket of water while you prepare a bed; they should not be allowed to dry out.

Seed: In late summer, after the flowers have finished, cut the seed heads from the branches and drop them into a paper bag. Put the bag in a warm, dry area until the seeds are completely dry. Then shake the bag to loosen the seeds from any chaff. Sow the seeds outdoors in a prepared bed in the fall for plants the following spring. Winter will supply the cold stratification the seeds need. If sowing the seeds in spring, place them in a bag filled with moist planting medium and put it in the refrigerator for four weeks to stratify them. Then sow them outside. Barely cover the seeds; they need light to germinate.

Types of Avens

'Blazing Sunset' Avens

pink geum blazing sunset flower
Getty Images

Geum 'Blazing Sunset' has fiery red blossoms almost twice as big as those of other varieties. Great for cut flowers. It grows to 12 inches. Zones 5–7

'Fire Storm' Avens

red geum blazing sunset detail
Getty Images

Geum 'Fire Storm' grows just 1 to 2 feet tall and wide with masses of semidouble vibrant orange flowers. Zones 5-9.

'Red Wings' Avens

avens 'Red Wings' geum with red semidouble flowers
Kim Cornelison

The red semidouble flowers of Geum 'Red Wings' make it distinct. Flowers grow on strong stems over 2-foot mounds of hairy foliage. Zones 5–7

'Lady Stratheden' Avens

avens 'Lady Stratheden' geum with yellow flowers
Andy Lyons

Geum 'Lady Stratheden' may reach 2 feet tall with hairy leaves and large semidouble buttery-yellow flowers throughout much of the summer. Zones 5–8

'Mrs. J. Bradshaw' Avens

red avens geum mrs bradshaw
Getty Images

Geum 'Mrs. J. Bradshaw' bears semidouble orange-scarlet flowers in May and June; extend blooming time by removing spent flowers. Zones 5–7

Avens Companion Plants


Basket of Gold Aurinia saxatilis
Doug Hetherington

Basket-of-gold is one of those plants that loves to grow in the least likely of places—cracks between paving stones, the edge of gravel paths and patios, rocky outcroppings, and between the stacked stones of a retaining wall. It loves a baked spot with excellent drainage but struggles in hot, humid areas and tends not to do well in the South. However, where it does well, it's a showstopper. It will reseed prolifically in little cracks, filling an area each spring with dazzling neon yellows. After it finishes blooming, the grayish-green foliage makes an attractive mat in the perennial garden.


Iris Immortality
Dean Schoeppner

Named for the Greek goddess of the rainbow, iris indeed comes in a rainbow of colors and in many heights. All have the classic, impossibly intricate flowers. The flowers are constructed with three upright "standard" petals and three drooping "fall" petals, which are often different colors. The falls may be "bearded" or not. Some cultivars bloom a second time in late summer. Some species prefer alkaline soil, while others prefer acidic soil.


detail of three yellow cosmos blooms
William N. Hopkins

This underused native wildflower produces airy, daisy-like flowers throughout the summer. It's a top choice for wildflower mixes and prairie plantings because it reseeds freely and adds bright rays of sunshine-yellow wherever it grows. Calliopsis is also great for adding texture to the middle of the border. Many gardeners have found it to be deer-resistant, and it's a charming cut flower. Unless you find it available as established seedlings, plant from seed directly in the ground in spring in rich, well-drained soil. It's not fussy about fertilizer and likes ample water.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long is the avens bloom period?

    Avens begins blooming in mid spring and continues blooming for about a month. Some varieties bloom all the way through the summer. Extend the bloom time by deadheading spent blooms.

  • What are the avens plant pollinators?

    The primary pollinator of avens is the bumblebee, although the plant attracts other bees, including the honeybee, and butterflies.

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