One of the benefits of growing this orange avens flower is that it is not widely grown, so you may well enjoy bragging rights when showing it off to any neighbors who garden. Not only does it produce lots of brightly-colored blooms, but Geum Fire Storm also offers leaves of a delicate texture that contrast well with coarser-leaved plants. Learn all about this under-appreciated plant, and find out about examples of other members of the genus.
Taxonomy and Botany
Plant taxonomy considers this plant to be Geum Fire Storm, the part not in italics being the cultivar name. "Avens" is the common name for members of this genus. "Avens" is both the singular and the plural form of the noun.
The flowers of avens come in various colors. Reds, yellows, whites, and oranges are quite popular currently among the cultivars, but other colors exist as well. Geum Fire Storm is one type to grow if you want orange avens flowers (and double flowers, at that). Bloom time is in May in zone 5, for example. Geum coccineum has single orange flowers.
The plant is clump-forming and can become 12 to 14 inches tall (to the tips of the flowers), by a spread of slightly less than that. The foliage is complex; most prominent is the divided or lobed leaves, the terminal leaflet of which is the largest as if to thumb its nose at gravity.
Sun and Soil Needs, Growing Zones, Native Origins
Grow this type of avens in full to partial sun and in a ground that drains well. It will thrive in a soil that is moderately moist and fertile. You are most likely to have luck growing this perennial in USDA plant hardiness zones 5 to 9.
The species plants in this genus are native to many different lands; Chile has some of the most colorful natives.
How to Care for Geum Fire Storm
If you deadhead the plant, it will bloom for an even more extended period. Every other year or so you can divide the plant to maintain its vigor or increase your supply of plants. Spring is the best time to perform division on it.
Uses in Landscaping and Beyond
As with many small, compact plants, this orange avens flower looks best massed together along a border or displayed in a rock garden. Avens is also a traditional cottage garden plant. Alternatively, grow it anywhere (provided sun and soil conditions are right) where you need a touch of golden-orange to brighten a spot in your landscaping, including in pots.
Herbalists have found the following uses for avens traditionally: "Astringent, Styptic, febrifuge, sudorific, stomachic, antiseptic, tonic and aromatic."
Geum Fire Storm and Wildlife
Most gardeners adore wildlife, but in cases where the wildlife is eating the plant that you are trying to grow, you sometimes have to choose which is more important to you. Happily, avens tend not to make us choose because they draw harmless (but beautiful) wildlife and are not a preferred food for some of our worst garden pests (voles being an exception).
Geum Fire Storm is often contrasted with the Fireball cultivar also grown for orange avens flowers, and it is considered the more compact of the two. Despite being more compact, no sacrifice is made in terms of blooming. The plant not only bears many blooms but also is a long-blooming perennial. Relatively compact or not, you are still advised to situate this perennial in between other, good-sized perennials so that the latter can provide a "natural support" for its flower stems, which can be rather gangly.
Other Types of Avens
Many of the species plants lack impressive flowers so that most growers will be interested mainly in cultivars. An exception is G. quellyon, which boasts scarlet blooms. Fiery terms crop up in the names of a few of the cultivars, a tip-off as to the flower color. Besides Fireball and Fire Storm, we have, for example, G. Blazing Sunset, which is red. G. chiloense Mrs. J. Bradshaw is a tamer name for an equally vibrant avens (orange-scarlet). G. chiloense Lady Stratheden is an example with yellow blooms, while G. chiloense Flames of Passion is light-red and semi-double. G. Snowflake offers white flowers.
While many types of avens are gangly, the Alpine avens (Geum montanum) has a compact growth habit (much more compact even than Fire Storm). It becomes 6 inches tall and 12 inches wide. Grow it in full sun to partial shade. As you would expect from a perennial from the Alps, it is cold-hardy (zones 3 to 9). It bears yellow flowers.
But there is also room for pinkish and purplish colors in this genus; for example:
- The Bell Bank cultivar has pink flowers.
- Prairie smoke (G. triflorum) has pink flowers.
- Water avens (G. rivale) has orange or yellow flowers with purplish sepals on the outside.
Water avens is also sometimes called "Chocolate Root," because the aromatic roots "have been used to make a cocoa-like beverage" (North Woods Wildflowers, Doug Ladd, p.60).