Geranium phaeum ‘Samobor’    Family: Geraniaceae
(jer-AY-nee-um  FAY-um)
syn. Geranium phaeum var. phaeum ‘Samobor’
Common name: mourning widow; dusky cranesbill
Zone: 4 – 9
Height: 24-30 in (60-76 cm)   Spread: 18-24 in (45-60 cm)
Aspect: partial shade; full shade
Soil: fertile; well-draining
Water: moderate

An herbaceous, clump-forming perennial. Deeply incised, palmate bright green leaves display a large, dark maroon-black splotch in their centre which splays outward towards the leaf tips. Appearing in May to June, the small-sized flowers are held aloft on upright slender stems and are an almost perfect colour match for the leaf splotch.

Special Notes: This cultivar of the species was discovered in 1990 by Elizabeth Strangman in a Kent nursery. It is one of the few geraniums which actually thrives in almost full shade. While tolerant of most soil types as well as wet and dry conditions, ‘Samobor’ will excel if given fertile soil and moderate water.

Relatively low maintenance plant. When flowers are finished, either cut the spent stems back to the basal leaf or cut the entire clump back to one or two inches above the soil. The plant will rejuvenate and perhaps provide another flush of flowers in September.

Good resistance to diseases and pests, including slugs and rabbits. Deer may nibble on the leaves.


In our Zone 7a garden: John has a lovely clump of ‘Samobor’ under a tall Pieris japonica where it does not receive any sun…unless it is from a setting sun at the end of the day and only at a certain time of the growing season.

I have a clump of ‘Samobor’ near the front of my mixed hosta and fern bed…one of the shadiest beds in my garden. ‘Samobor’ does get some morning sun at the front of the bed and it seems to be just the right amount as my plant is typically a little ahead of John’s in full shade.

Regardless of its location in either garden, it always solicits comments from visitors to our garden. A truly delightful plant.


Posted on March 10, 2021