Avens, also called geum, brightens up the spring landscape with its red, orange, or yellow blossoms for several weeks in spring and early summer. Below the tall, airy flowers that resemble small roses, low-mounding dark green foliage blankets the soil.
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Wispy stems and flowers resembling small, single roses make avens a charming plant to include in casual, color-packed gardens. Plant it alongside other cottage-garden picks, such as bellflower, daisy, heuchera, dame's rocket, delphinium, foxglove, dianthus, hollyhock, and hydrangea.
Avens' airy flowering stems also complement more solid 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.
Avens Care Must-Knows
Avens grows best in full sun to part shade in rich, well-drained soil. Soggy soil in winter can be fatal. Improve the drainage of a soggy site prior to planting, or plant this perennial in a raised-bed garden. Give it afternoon shade in climates with hot summer climates. The intense heat and humidity of the Deep South is problematic, so don't plant it south of Zone 7.
Plant nursery-grown avens or transplant existing ones in spring and water regularly through the first growing season to develop a strong root system. Divide plants in spring every two years to promote vigor. The divisions will grow and thrive better than a single, three-year-old clump. Snip spent flowers as often as possible to encourage reblooming, but consider leaving a few to develop into attractive fluffy seed heads.
More Varieties of Avens
'Blazing Sunset' avens
This Geum selection has Fiery red blossoms almost twice as big as those of other varieties. Great for cut flowers. Zones 4–8
'Fire Storm' avens
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
Red semidouble flowers make this variety of Geum distinct. Flowers grow on strong stems over 2-foot mounds of hairy foliage. Zones 5-9
'Lady Stratheden' avens
This variety of Geum may reach 2 feet tall with hairy leaves and large semidouble buttery-yellow flowers throughout much of the summer. Zones 5-9
Avens Companion Plants
Basket-of-gold is one of those plants that loves to grow in the least likely of place—cracks between paving stones, the edge of gravel paths and patios, rocky outcroppings, between the stacked stones of a retaining wall, and more. It loves a baked spot with excellent drainage but will struggle in hot, humid areas and tends not to do well in the South. But 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.
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.
This underused native wildflower produces airy, daisylike 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.