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How To Grow Creeping Avens – A Complete Guide

How To Grow Creeping Avens – A Complete Guide

Creeping Avens brings a happy vibe to a garden. If you don’t have any growing in your garden, now is a great time to get hold of some and start planting! 

Creeping Avens is part of the Rose Family, but they are not roses. Like many plants, there are many different types or cultivars. 

The most common variety has the Latin name Geum reptans. 

This variety offers glorious buttery-yellow flowers that bloom on long creeping stems. As you can guess, anything that creeps makes a great ground cover! 

After the flowers have bloomed, they are replaced by lovely fuzzy pink seedheads. 

The plant is known by many other names including Alpine Avens, Yellow-flowered mountain avens, Prairie Smoke, and Herb Bennet.

Avens are easy to grow and require average maintenance. When established, they are ideal to fill empty spaces, plant into containers, creep alongside paths, or spillover rocks in a rock garden. 

Flowers bloom anywhere between the spring to early summer, adding interest and color to any garden. 

Getting your plant well established requires some basic knowledge of the soil, temperature, watering, and sunlight conditions that will make it most happy. 

 

 

How to grow Creeping Avens

Plant Creeping avens in average soil in full sunlight with some midday shade. It is relatively drought-resistant. Water only during long dry periods. Ideal temperatures are 10°F (-12°C) to 95°F (35°C). It will not survive frost. Fertilizer in spring. Can be pruned if stems become too long.

 

Soil requirements

Creeping avens enjoy fertile, well-drained soil. They are also happy in richer soil that is packed full of organic compost and mulch. 

Try to avoid soil that’s either too sandy or clay-ey. Clay soil retains water, causing the plant’s roots to rot. 

This will eventually result in your Creeping avens dying. Definitely not what you want! 

Sandy soil has the opposite effect. Water drains too fast, and your plant won’t have enough time to absorb any. 

It is generally not overly fussy. If your garden soil is average, it will probably thrive quite happily. 

The PH level of your soil is another important factor to consider. This can easily be measured by purchasing a small home testing kit. 

Soil that is neutral has a PH reading of 7.0. Below 7.0 indicates acidic soil. A reading above 7.0 indicates alkaline soil. 

Geum reptans do best in soil that’s neutral to slightly acidic. Look for PH levels of 5.5 to 7.0. 

If your soil is very alkaline, meaning you get a high reading, the acid factor of your soil can be increased. 

Adding compost that is rich in organic matter will do this for you. As the compost decomposes, it increases the acid content. 

If your soil is too acidic and you get a very low PH reading, you need to decrease the acid. 

This can be done by adding garden lime or crushed lime to the soil. Ask your local nursery for guidance on what to buy.

 

Light requirements

Geums come in so many varieties that you are sure to find plants that will tolerate full sun to more shady conditions

Geum reptans, the one I am growing at the moment, enjoys the full sun with some shade in the heat of the afternoon. 

Full sun means exposing your plants to at least 6 hours of sunlight, and even up to 8 hours per day. This is easy to achieve if you have a south-facing garden

West-facing gardens are also ideal for Creeping avens. 

In both cases, you may need to check that the hot midday sun is not scorching the leaves. 

A north-facing garden will not have enough sun for creeping avens. 

 

Watering

Established plants are relatively drought-tolerant. They don’t require too much water to thrive. 

When you do water as part of your gardening time, give it a good drench and then dry the soil completely. Once the soil’s completely dry, do some watering again. 

If you are growing your Creeping avens in a pot or container, ensure that the water can run out of the drainage holes in the base. 

Water that remains in the container will cause root rot and your plant may die. 

If you have just planted a young Creeping Avens, water every second day for the first few weeks. 

Once again, ensure that your soil is well-draining and will not accumulate too much moisture. 

When it comes to creeping avens, if you are in doubt about watering, rather water less than more! 

 

Temperature and humidity

Geum reptans enjoys average warmer temperatures that range from around 10°F to 15°F (-12°C to -9°C)  up to 95°F (35°C). 

They can withstand periods of cold but will not tolerate frost. 

Extreme heat at midday is also not ideal as it causes the leaves to scorch. 

Creeping avens is found in its native habitat in a wide variety of countries including Europe, Africa, New Zealand, and Asia. 

It is not a rainforest plant, nor a desert plant. So you can expect that very humid or very dry regions will not be best suited. 

Average humidity will allow it to grow at its best. 

 

Best fertilizing routine

Most geum varieties will thrive in average soil with some organic compost mixed in. 

You can start fertilizing Creeping avens in early spring. Choose an all-natural general-purpose garden fertilizer

I have recently acquired a compost-making home kit. As a family, we throw in fallen leaves, cut grass, vegetable scraps, fruit scraps, and plant clippings. 

When the mix is ready, I dig it into the soil. It’s so exciting that I am making good use of refuse. I am also choosing not to use harmful chemical products. 

Do not fertilize your Creeping avens in winter. Plants need to rest during the chilly months. 

Fertilizing can cause them to want to start growing and your plant will take unnecessary stress. It may even die. 

 

Where to plant your Creeping avens

Geums want full sun if possible. Plant in west-facing and south-facing gardens to get the most sun possible. 

Try to ensure that they do get some shade from the midday heat. 

Geum reptans make a very attractive ground cover. 

If you want to change things up in your garden, consider replacing sections of your boring lawn with these lovely yellow flowers that bloom among evergreen leaves. 

They look fabulous in rock gardens where the long stems can trail over rocks. If you have a water feature, that adds an even more pleasing aesthetic to your special space! 

Because the plant has a low-growing mounding habit, its small height makes it ideal for planting in front of borders. 

Adding some color and interest to your patio or deck is easily achieved by planting creeping avens into decorative containers. They do well in sunny spots. 

Many Geum varieties are very attractive to butterflies. You will soon have a butterfly garden! 

If you are lucky enough, you may even get to spot the rare Grizzled Skipper, a butterfly with dark brown-black wings and a pattern of white spots. 

They also attract hummingbirds and bees, bringing sound and movement into your garden. 

 

Planting your creeping aven from seeds

I like to buy a plant that I can see and touch! But, if you are patient, you can sow geum seeds directly into your garden. 

Plant your seeds during spring if possible. You can also plant in summer, provided that you are at least 2 months before the first frosts.

Seeds do best in temperatures of 68°F or 86°F (20°C to 30°C). 

Prepare your soil with a good quantity of compost, mulch, and peat. Water well and allow it to stand overnight. 

Make sure that you lightly cover the seeds with soil once you sow them. Do not pack it too tightly as this will cause less light and airflow to reach the seedlings. Germination can take between 3 to 4 weeks. 

You can also do this process indoors. Plant into seed trays and keep warm and moist. 

When you see the tiny plants start to sprout, transplant them into prepared soil in your garden. 

Allow for a spacing of around 12 inches to 18 inches (30cm to 45cm) so the stems can spread. 

 

How to plant your Creeping avens from an established plant

Creating the perfect environment will ensure that your geum thrives in the years to come. 

Select your spot and dig a hole that’s larger than its current rootball’s size. Remove any grass, twigs, or stones. 

Dig in some all-natural organic fertilizer. Water well and leave overnight. 

Remove the entire plant from the old soil, ensuring to place it in the new hole gently. If you are planting many, space them at least 20 inches  (50 cm) from each other. 

Ensure that the roots are fully submerged. Fill up the hole with soil and water well. 

 

Growth and pruning

Most creeping avens grow as small low-bushes reaching heights of only 16 inches to 18 inches (40cm to 45cm). 

The stems can spread along the ground for up to 2 feet (60cm). If your plant becomes invasive, prune back the stems to keep it neat. 

If you are growing it in a container, pruning may become more important as it will tend to spread around the base of the pot and look untidy. 

If you enjoy pruning aggressively, do this after blooming in late summer to rejuvenate the foliage. 

Spent flowers can be deadheaded and dead leaves can be removed. 

 

Division of your creeping avens

After 3 to 4 years, your Creeping avens will begin to look very dense and overcrowded. 

Dividing them is a good idea. This will give new life to the plant, and you can also use the cuttings to propagate new plants. 

Plan to divide your plant in the autumn. Doing it in the morning is best. 

Water well the night before. In the morning, gently dig up your plant. Dig deep and wide to maintain the root structure. 

Lift it out from the ground while shaking off excess soil. You can also lightly spray the root system with water to clear off dense soil. 

Place onto a clean work surface. Using your fingers divide and pull the plant apart into two sections. Each section can be replanted into its own spot. 

 

Creeping avens varieties to choose from

Here are some of the popular cultivars of the Creeping Avens – take your pick! 

 

Geum reptans

Offers stunning yellow flowers through spring and summer. It only requires minimal maintenance to thrive, making it easy to care for. 

 

‘Blazing Sunset’ avens

Have fiery red flowers that are bigger than other varieties. They’re best for creating a focal point in a garden. 

 

Geum ‘Mrs. Bradshaw’

Offers frilly flowers in a scarlet red. Perfect for a cottage garden. This variety is very tolerant of clay-type soils. 

 

‘Totally Tangerine’ Avens

Blooms have a fabulous peachy-orange color and deep green leaves. This variety is known for its extra-long blooming season. 

 

‘Leonard’s Variety’ Avens

This plant prefers wetter conditions and offers semi-double coppery-pink flowers. 

 

Geum ‘Pink Petticoats’ 

Has lovely pink-hued flowers with frilly edges and light-yellow centers. 

 

Geum ‘Prinses Juliana’ avens 

This variety delights the eye with showy fiery orange flowers from late spring to early summer. 

 

Pests to look out for

Creeping avens are hardy and are not often attacked by pests. 

One pest to look for is the sawfly larvae. This pest looks much like a hairless caterpillar. It feeds on the plant’s foliage. 

You will notice that your leaves have holes or large sections missing from them! Not a pretty sight, but it’s a sure way of telling the plant’s infested.

Use a solution of Insecticidal Soap and Botanical Pyrethrins to kill the sawfly larvae. 

 

Health benefits

Although I won’t recommend that you eat your creeping avens, they are known to have great health benefits if properly prepared.

The plant is used in herbal teas. It can be used to help cure fever, gout, and diarrhea. It is also known as a cure for halitosis and mouth ulcers.

 

Frequently asked questions about growing Creeping avens

 

Can I plant Creeping Avens into a container?

You can definitely do so as it looks fabulous in a pot. Prune back the stems that become unwieldy and long. 

 

Is Creeping Avens toxic?

Creeping avens is not part of the list of toxic plants. In fact, it’s used in many herbal remedies. You can plant it with no concerns in home gardens where there are pets or children. 

 

Is Creeping Avens drought-tolerant?

This plant is relatively drought tolerant. It can withstand dry conditions. It is not a desert plant, so watering in extremely long dry periods is recommended. 

 

Is Creeping Avens invasive?

Because Creeping Avens is a low-spreading plant, some people may consider it to be invasive. It can easily be pruned back if the stems become too long and scraggly. 

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