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NZ geranium spectacular in foliage and flower

This article was first published on 13 Nov 2012.

NZ geranium

NZ geranium

Soft silvery foliage, pretty flowers and an easy going nature makes Geranium traversii a great garden plant. This low growing perennial herb is one of New Zealand’s largest geraniums, and is a native of the Chatham Islands, occuring on all the main islands of this group. Its natural habitat is coastal cliffs, sand dunes and rock crevices.

The colour of the foliage is due to a dense covering of silvery hairs on the stems and leaves. This makes it a lovely subject for mass planting as a filler plant amongst shrub borders, providing a foil for a range of foliage forms and colours. Geranium traversii will thrive in most garden situations. It prefers full sun and good drainage and is an excellent rock garden subject. It is one of the few Chatham endemics which is relatively easy to grow throughout the country.

Although generally pink in cultivation there are also white flowered forms of this species and very rarely a light purple. The flowering period is long, October to March (peaking in summer), another bonus with this bonny wee native. This species will self seed readily.

In the Hebe border of the Native Collection is a patch of Geranium traversii that has established nicely amongst the hebes. This is just starting to flower and can be seen on the path side of the border adjacent to the daffodil lawn in the upper garden.

Shirley Stuart is the New Zealand Native Curator at the Dunedin Botanic Garden