Prairie Smoke - Old Man's Whiskers (Geum triflorum) Prairie Native Wildflowers Avens Flower

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Prairie Smoke - Old Man's Whiskers (Geum triflorum) Prairie Native Wildflowers Avens Flower


Height 8 in tall

Prairie smoke, also known as Old Man's Whiskers, Purple (or Red) Avens, Long-Plumed Avens, and Three-Flowered Avens, is a perennial herbaceous plant native to North America from northern Canada to California and east to New York.

This prairie native bears nodding, pinkish-maroon flowers from mid spring to early summer, after pollination flowers are followed by wispy seed heads that resemble cotton candy and connote the plant's common name. The upright, ferny foliage is beautiful, and can be evergreen in mild climates, turning red, orange and finally a gorgeous purple hue into the late fall and winter. Prairie smoke is tolerant of many soil types, growing equally well in sandy, loamy, and clay soils, although it prefers a well-drained site.

Plants spread slowly by rhizome to form a groundcover and are perfectly suited for dry rock gardens. Prairie Smoke is also effective planted in groups in a perennial bed, but it does not like to be overcrowded by taller perennials. Excellent for hot dry spots, it thrives in any well-drained soil. Prairie smoke offers nectar to bumble bees in the early spring. Prairie smoke is 1-2 feet tall on top of fern like foliage.

  • Full sun is preferred; flowering is reduced in shade.
  • Well draining sandy to loamy soil
  • Start seeds indoors 5 weeks before the last frost. Mix seed with a slightly moistened, sterile soilless growing mix. Place in a sealed plastic bag and store in a fridge for one day; move the next day and place this in the freezer for one day. Repeat this process for one week alternating from fridge to freezer. After stratifying, plant seeds 1/8 in deep in pots. Keep soil moist but not soggy and place somewhere warm (21 C). When seedlings are 2 in tall transplant into the garden after all risk of frost has passed
  • Spacing: 1ft
  • OR direct sow outdoors 1/8 in deep into a prepared seedbed in late fall
  • Seed Count: 5