But if you want a carpeting geranium that is seldom out of flower between now and October, and which needs no such treatment with the shears, look no further than Geranium x riversleaianum ‘Mavis Simpson’. Old Mavis is a cracker.
Her leaves are, like those of many of her relations, fingered and downy, and they form a rug perhaps six inches deep, over the top of which hover soft pink flowers. And she really does go on and on, flowering not just from June to October, but year after year, widening her clumps with age.
Eventually, when you feel she might be weakening a little (though after four years she shows no sign of it with me) you can divide her clumps and replant pieces in any half-decent ground and they will romp away once more.
Mavis is happy in sun or dappled shade and any reasonably drained soil. I’m on chalk and she doesn’t mind a bit. She doesn’t need staking and she doesn’t need anything else once she is established, though a sprinkling of general fertiliser in February or March will be much appreciated.
Of all the plants in my garden she, rather strangely, is the one for which I feel the most affection. Plant her yourself and I bet she wheedles her way into your affections, too. As lady friends go, she is remarkably low maintenance.
Don’t miss Alan’s gardening column today and every day in the Daily Express. For more information on his range of gardening products, visit alantitchmarsh.com.
- Garden Plans For Geranium
- Colorful Combinations
- Geranium Care Must-Knows
- More Varieties of Geranium
- Plant Geranium With:
- Here’s How To Prune Your Hardy Geraniums:
- Growing Annual Geraniums
- Geranium, Zonal
- Geraniums–How to Grow & Propagate
- Why I added annual geraniums into our garden beds
- My love for simple annual geraniums!
- Are geraniums annual or perennial plants?
- A short history about geraniums
- Do annual geraniums come back every year?
- Do geraniums bloom all Summer?
- Are geraniums resistant to deer, rabbits and squirrels?
- Annual geranium colors
- Do geraniums prefer sun or shade?
- Annual geraniums — watering requirements
- Annual geraniums — too much water
- Best fertilizer for geraniums
- How to deadhead geraniums
- Pruning geraniums
- How to grow annual geraniums from seed
- How to grow annual geraniums from cuttings
- Winter care for annual geraniums
A truly classic garden plant, geraniums have been a gardener’s favorite for well over a century. The old-fashioned standard for beds, borders, and containers, geranium is still one of the most popular plants today. Traditional bedding types love hot weather and hold up well to dry conditions; many offer colorful foliage. Regal, also called Martha Washington, geraniums are more delicate-looking and do better in the cool conditions of spring and fall.
Though most geraniums are grown as annuals, they are perennials in Zones 10–11. Bring them indoors to overwinter, if you like, then replant outdoors in spring. (Or they can bloom indoors all year long if they get enough light.)
Garden Plans For Geranium
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This garden staple has a little secret: It’s not even a geranium! What we know as the common annual geranium is actually a Pelargonium. The annual geranium offers so many great qualities that we can’t help but use it every year.
With their wide range of color, shape, and size of blooms, it’s hard not to find a reason to use geraniums everywhere. The most common of the annual variety, Zonal Geraniums, is the most recognizable geranium; it gets its name from the broad band of darker coloring on leaves. In some, this “zone” is more pronounced than others. If you don’t see this banding on the leaves but the flowers look like a zonal geranium, it could be either a variety where this coloring is not present or a seed geranium (the latter of which is a more inexpensive version of its zonal counterpart).
Zonal geraniums are grown from cuttings only, and have been heavily bred for traits like bigger and longer-lasting blooms, sterility (so that the plants don’t waste energy on making seeds), and overall vigor and disease resistance. Zonal geraniums also thrive in the heat and sun of the summer and will bloom all season, if you remove old blooms.
Ivy geraniums are another popular variety and, as their name implies, these plants have more of a trailing habit with segmented leaves like ivy. Overall, blooms of the ivy types are very similar to the zonals, but with smaller bloom clusters and deeper purple flowers.
Regal geraniums, another popular plant variety, are grown for their large, extremely showy blooms. These fancy flowers come in many colors and have beautiful patterns you don’t see in other types of geraniums.
See more houseplants for the forgetful gardener.
Geranium Care Must-Knows
The most important thing to know about some geraniums, such as the ivy variety, is that they can suffer from a condition called edema. This is most often seen in ivy type geraniums on the underside of the leaves. When soil temperatures are warm and wet and air temperature is cooler and humid, plants take up more water than they can hold, which causes the leaf cells to stretch and become damaged with scabs that turn brown and bumpy. This isn’t contagious, and damaged leaves can simply be removed. Ivy geraniums take heat well, but not quite as well as their zonal counterparts. If it is exceptionally hot, ivy geraniums will thank you for a little bit of afternoon shade.
Regal types are probably some of the pickiest geraniums. They prefer a cooler growing season and will stop blooming in high summer heat. Make sure they have well-drained soil, and keep them cool when the steamy temps arrive. Here’s how to fix a common geranium problem.
No matter which geranium you select for your next container, just make sure to keep up with deadheading. And don’t forget to feed them!
Houseplants That Work Great in Bedrooms
More Varieties of Geranium
‘Allure Light Pink’ Geranium
Pelargonium ‘Allure Light Pink’ bears pink flowers with a brighter pink blotch on vigorous plants that grow 18 inches tall.
‘Allure Pink Picotee’ Geranium
Pelargonium ‘Allure Pink Picotee’ produces huge, hydrangea-like clusters of pale pink blooms edged in darker pink. It grows 18 inches tall.
‘Americana Bright Red’ Geranium
Pelargonium ‘Americana Bright Red’ is a heat-loving geranium with large, rich-red flower heads. It grows 18 inches tall.
Pelargonium ‘Aurora’ is a heat-loving variety with large heads of bright magenta-pink flowers on 12-inch-tall plants.
‘Caliente Hot Coral’ Geranium
Pelargonium ‘Caliente Hot Coral’ produces bold coral-pink blooms and exceptional heat tolerance. It has an upright, mounding habit, and you don’t need to deadhead the flowers. It grows 12 inches tall.
‘Calliope Dark Red’ Geranium
Pelargonium ‘Calliope Dark Red’ is a hybrid between ivy-leaved and zonal geraniums. It bears rich, dark red flowers and has a mounding/trailing habit. It grows 12 inches tall.
‘Candy Cherry’ Geranium
Pelargonium ‘Candy Cherry’ offers lots of bright cherry-pink flowers over rich, dark-green foliage. It grows 14 inches tall.
‘Candy Fantasy Kiss’ Geranium
Pelargonium ‘Candy Fantasy Kiss’ shows off rich pink flowers with a lovely soft pink edge. It has dark green foliage and grows 14 inches tall.
‘Daredevil Claret’ Geranium
Pelargonium ‘Daredevil Claret’ is a vigorous selection with dark red flowers all summer. It grows 24 inches tall and 14 inches wide.
‘Daredevil Orchid’ Geranium
Pelargonium ‘Daredevil Orchid’ shows off brilliantly colored clusters of lavender flowers all summer long. It grows 24 inches tall and 14 inches wide.
‘Designer Red’ Geranium
Pelargonium ‘Designer Red’ is a heat-loving geranium that offers rich red flowers on compact, 14-inch-tall plants.
‘Easter Greeting’ Regal Geranium
Pelargonium ‘Easter Greeting’ is a cool-season regal type with cerise-pink flowers that have dark purple blotches. The plants grow 12 inches tall.
‘Elegance Burgundy’ Regal Geranium
Pelargonium ‘Elegance Burgundy’ is a cool-season variety that blooms in spring with rich burgundy flowers that look like they’re made from crepe paper. It grows 12 inches tall.
‘Elegance Imperial’ Regal Geranium
Pelargonium ‘Elegance Imperial’ is a spring bloomer offering rich burgundy-purple flowers boldly edged in white. It grows 12 inches tall.
‘Elegance Royalty White’ Regal Geranium
Pelargonium ‘Elegance Royalty White’ is a cool-season variety displaying white flowers brushed with bright pink. It grows 12 inches tall.
‘Fantasia White’ Geranium
Pelargonium ‘Fantasia White’ offers pure white blooms on a heat-loving plant that grows 14 inches tall.
‘Global Merlot’ Ivy Geranium
Pelargonium ‘Global Merlot’ bears rich wine-red flowers on a heat-loving plant that trails to 14 inches.
‘Graffiti Salmon’ Geranium
Pelargonium ‘Graffiti Salmon’ is a heat-loving selection with spidery salmon-pink flowers on a plant that grows 14 inches tall.
‘Graffiti White’ Geranium
Pelargonium ‘Graffiti White’ is a heat-loving selection with spidery white flowers on a plant that grows 14 inches tall.
‘Indian Dunes’ Geranium
Pelargonium ‘Indian Dunes’ offers attractive chartreuse foliage with a large bronze-purple blotch in the center of each leaf. It produces orange-red flowers and grows 10 inches tall.
‘Maestro Rose Pink’ Geranium
Pelargonium ‘Maestro Rose Pink’ offers large soft pink blooms touched with rose on a medium-size plant with good heat tolerance. It grows 12 inches tall.
‘Maiden Iced Wine’ Regal Geranium
Pelargonium ‘Maiden Iced Wine’ is a cool-season variety with a compact habit and dark red flowers delicately edged in white. It grows 10 inches tall.
‘Mini Cascade Pink’ Ivy Geranium
Pelargonium ‘Mini Cascade Pink’ is a heat-loving variety with soft pink flowers that can trail to 14 inches.
‘Mini Cascade Red’ Ivy Geranium
Pelargonium ‘Mini Cascade Red’ is a heat-loving geranium with red flowers that can trail to 14 inches.
‘Mini Karmine’ Geranium
Pelargonium ‘Mini Karmine’ looks its best in hanging baskets or window boxes where you can enjoy it as the plant trails over the edges. It features bright magenta flowers and finely cut foliage.
‘Moonlight Cranberry Blush’ Geranium
Pelargonium ‘Moonlight Cranberry Blush’ features intensely pink flowers with a compact habit and lots of blooms throughout the summer. It grows 12 inches tall.
‘Mr. Henry Cox’ Geranium
Pelargonium ‘Mr. Henry Cox’ is a heat-loving type with variegated foliage and single pink flowers on plants that grow 12 inches tall.
‘Patriot Lavender Blue’ Geranium
Pelargonium ‘Patriot Lavender Blue’ is a quick-growing variety with large lavender-pink flowers. It grows 16 inches tall.
‘Patriot Berry Parfait’ Geranium
Pelargonium ‘Patriot Berry Parfait’ is a vigorous variety with large, cherry-red flowers. It grows 16 inches tall.
‘Pink Spirit’ Ivy Geranium
Pelargonium ‘Pink Spirit’ is a heat-loving geranium with double pink flowers that can trail to 16 inches.
‘Royal Candy Pink’ Ivy Geranium
Pelargonium ‘Royal Candy Pink’ is a trailing, heat-tolerant geranium with an abundance of rich pink flowers. It trails to 14 inches.
‘Royal Lavender’ Ivy Geranium
Pelargonium ‘Royal Lavender’ is a trailing, heat-tolerant geranium with soft, lavender-pink flowers all summer. It trails to 14 inches.
‘Vancouver Centennial’ Geranium
Pelargonium ‘Vancouver Centennial’ is a heat-loving geranium with golden foliage that bears a purple-brown blotch. It grows to 18 inches tall.
‘Wilhelm Langguth’ Geranium
Pelargonium ‘Wilhelm Langguth’ shows off attractive white-edged foliage and bright red flowers. It grows 2 feet tall.
Plant Geranium With:
Many types of nicotiana are terrifically fragrant (especially at night) and are wonderful in attracting hummingbirds as well as fascinating hummingbird moths. There are several types of nicotiana, also called flowering tobacco, because it’s a cousin of the regular tobacco plant. Try the shorter, more colorful types in containers or the front of beds or borders. The taller, white-only types, which can reach 5 feet, are dramatic in the back of borders. And they’re ideal for night gardens; they’re usually most fragrant at dusk. These plants do best in full sun and moist, well-drained soil, and they may reseed.
Pentas is one of the best butterfly-attracting plants around. It blooms all summer long, even during the hottest weather, with large clusters of starry blooms that attract butterflies by the dozens as well as hummingbirds. The plant grows well in containers and in the ground—and it can even make a good houseplant if you have enough light. It does best in full sun and moist, well-drained soil. Pentas is grown as an annual in most parts of the country, but it’s hardy in Zones 10-11. Plant it outdoors after all danger of frost has passed.
Like so many grasses, fountaingrass is spectacular when backlit by the rising or setting sun. Named for its especially graceful spray of foliage, fountaingrass sends out beautiful, fuzzy flower plumes in late summer. The white, pink, or red plumes (depending on variety) continue into fall and bring a loose, informal look to plantings. This plant self-seeds freely, sometimes to the point of becoming invasive.
Hardy geraniums are known as the true perennial geranium, adored by gardeners everywhere because of how much they give compared to how much care they require. Hardy geraniums, such as Rozanne®, grow in most climates, take shade and sun in stride and often produce beautiful blooms until the first frost.
Here’s How To Prune Your Hardy Geraniums:
Hardy Geraniums vs. Pelargoniums
Hardy geraniums are not to be confused with pelargoniums. What is the difference between a geranium vs. pelargonium, you ask? They are both members of the same plant family, but just like some siblings, they couldn’t be more different.
Hardy geraniums can live through frost while pelargoniums cannot. True hardy geraniums are perennials that come back each year, while pelargoniums die in the winter and are frequently treated like annuals, re-planted each year.
Prune your Hardy Geraniums
Properly pruning your hardy geraniums will help keep them looking their best and encourage new growth. You can inspire repeat blooming in your hardy geraniums by properly pruning them as soon as the blossoming period is over. Most geraniums can be cut back twice in one season, allowing them to bloom at least three times in one season.
When to Prune
You’ll want to prune your hardy geraniums according to the season you are in. Spring, summer and autumn will require different trims for Rozanne. So, mark your calendar and follow our seasonal pruning guide to help keep your blooms lush and healthy.
What tools you need
It’s fairly simple to prune your geraniums. All you will need is the knowledge on how to prune, your favourite gardening gloves, a pair of sharp pruners and your favourite mulch. To see specific techniques on how to prune, watch this video.
How to prune
There’s no need to worry about hurting your flower as you prune her back. Most hardy geraniums need to be trimmed to keep them from overtaking other plants and to encourage new growth.
Once the plant has finished blooming or you notice old growth, trim it back to within a few inches of ground level, or about an inch above the main stem. Then, go in and remove any brown stems or yellow leaves.
Shortly after trimming, you will see new leaves emerge! Some hardy geraniums will even experience a second bloom. Keeping your plants properly pruned allows them to have new growth and prevents them from sprawling out across your garden.
What are your favourite pruning tips? Post a comment on our Facebook page sharing them with us!
There’s something so homey and familiar about a pot of red geraniums parked on a front stoop. A bright spot in the landscape, inviting visitors in. Which makes sense, since in the Victorian “language of flowers” the scarlet geranium means “comfort.”
But geraniums have come a long way since Victorian days, now presenting a dazzling array of choices. And while gardeners can’t seem to get enough of the classic “Zonal” geraniums, other beautiful types include ivy-leaved, Regal, and scented geraniums.
Most of the 20 or so species of Pelargonium (from the Greek word pelargos, meaning “stork” since the seed heads look like a stork’s bill) are native to South Africa. Brought to Europe in the 1600s, the first geraniums quickly became a hit and since then thousands of cultivars have been developed.
A related group of plants, in the same family of Geraniaceae, has the actual Latin name Geranium, which causes some confusion. But plants in the genus Geranium are typically perennial and look quite different. Long ago they were all in the genus Geranium, until the 1700s when some were separated into the genus Pelargonium.
The Zonal geranium (Pelargonium x hortorum), so named because of the dark horseshoe-shaped marking on the leaves, has become a fixture of suburban gardens and city window boxes. Red remains the number one color, and there are plenty of red shades to choose from, but Zonals also come in salmon, white, pink, orange, violet, and bicolors. Typically used as annuals, they can be counted on for a bright pop of color for months on end, and are easy to grow if you follow a few simple guidelines.
Zonals need plenty of sunlight, but can take a little shade in the hottest part of the afternoon. Since they require night temperatures in the 50-60 degree F range to blossom, they perform best in late spring to early summer and again in autumn. So they might lag a bit in the heat of high summer. Give them moist, well-drained soil, mulch to keep roots cool, monthly feedings, and good air circulation.
If planted in a container, allow the soil to dry out a little before watering to ward off root rot, but definitely avoid extremes – a stressful cycle of wilting and heavy watering will cause leaves to yellow and fall off. And be diligent about removing spent flower heads to keep new ones coming on.
Ivy-leaved geraniums (Pelargonium peltatum) are similar to Zonals but with smooth, waxy leaves. They have become more widely grown with the explosion of container culture since their naturally trailing habit makes them perfect for hanging baskets. And they’re ideal to suspend on a porch because they need a slightly cooler and shadier environment than Zonals.
Regal geraniums (Pelargonium x domesticum), sometimes called Martha Washington geraniums after a popular 19th century cultivar, have pleated, ruffly leaves and showy flower clusters. They need a little more water than other geraniums, cooler temperatures, and filtered light. Since they don’t thrive in high heat and humidity, they are more suited to Northern locales. Perhaps the best way to enjoy Regals is to buy them while they’re blooming, then toss them once they’re finished, though they can be grown as houseplants.
Scented geraniums are actually a myriad of species, cultivars, and hybrids, each with a distinctive aroma to the foliage. Especially popular with herb gardeners, scented geraniums can smell like almonds, apples, coconut, lemons, roses, nutmeg, peppermint, strawberries, chocolate, or even Old Spice cologne. The rose-scented ones have been important in the perfume industry. And many find their way into jellies and iced teas as flavorings.
Though the flowers are usually more wispy than the Zonals, Regals, and ivy-leaved types, scented geraniums have a remarkable array of foliage forms: puckered, curled, or rounded, resembling ferns, oak leaves, or grape leaves, with textures from velvety to coarse to sticky.
While some scented geraniums are hardy to Zones 7-8, most need to be brought indoors when temperatures drop to about 45 degrees F. Native to areas with low rainfall, give them good drainage and plenty of air circulation. Be forewarned, collecting scented geraniums can be addictive!
Growing Annual Geraniums
Annual geraniums are popular indoor and outdoor flowering plants. The variety of flower colors, leaf shapes, colors, and growth habits make this plant ideally suited for home landscapes. These versatile plants are excellent as annual bedding plants, in hanging baskets, and in containers. Annual geraniums are not actually “true” geraniums as they are members of the genus Pelargonium. True geraniums are perennials in the genus Geranium.
Common or Zonal Geranium
Types of Annual Geraniums
Common garden or zonal geraniums (Geranium x hortulanum) are widely sold as bedding or container plants. Many have distinct, dark markings or bands (sometimes called zones) on their leaves. Flowers are borne in large, showy clusters and may be single or double. Flower colors include red, burgundy, lavender, pink, salmon, orange, white, and bicolor.
Ivy geraniums (Geranium peltatum) have ivy-shaped leaves and more vine-like or trailing growth habit. Flowers can be single or double and are available in colors similar to the common garden geranium. Plants perform well in hanging baskets and window boxes. Ivy geraniums are somewhat less heat tolerant than common garden geraniums and benefit from some afternoon shade.
Scented geraniums consist of several species, selections, and Pelargonium hybrids. Plants have a wide range of leaf sizes, shapes, and colors. Leaves are normally scented (hence the name) with lemon, rose, peppermint, nutmeg, apple, oak, and other fragrances. Scented geraniums are excellent container houseplants. Flowers are normally white, pink, or lavender and are typically less showy than most other geraniums. The widely promoted “mosquito geranium” is a type of scented geranium. When the leaves are rubbed, brushed, or crushed, a citronella fragrance is released. Since the citronella oils are only released when touched, plants growing in containers on a patio or deck do not repel mosquitoes.
Martha Washington Geranium
Martha Washington or regal geraniums (Pelargonium x domesticum) are the cool-season annual geranium. This group is noted for their large, ruffled flowers in white, pink, red, purple, yellow, burgundy, and bicolors. Since these geraniums thrive in cooler temperatures, they are normally only sold as container plants in late winter or early spring. While they make wonderful houseplants for several weeks, they are typically discarded when flowering is complete.
Fancy-leaf or variegated garaniums are becoming popular in some areas of the US. They are selections or hybrids from the common or zonal group of geraniums that are noted for their distinctive, multi-colored foliage. Combinations of green, yellow, white, red, burgundy, bronze, or coral leaves make these attractive plants for both indoor and outdoor containers. Some have scented foliage. Plants have red, pink, lavender, or white flowers, but they are smaller and less showy than the common garden geraniums.
Planting times and sites – Annual geraniums should be planted outdoors after the danger of frost has passed. This is generally mid- to late-May in much of Iowa. Most geraniums prefer moist, fertile, well-drained soils and full sun (at least 6 hours of direct sun per day). Flowering will be reduced in areas that receive less than 6 hours of sun.
Water and fertilization – Geraniums growing in containers require frequent watering as often as two or three times a week in hot, dry weather. Geraniums in ground beds and borders require approximately one inch of rain per week. For best performance, water once a week during dry periods. When watering, avoid wetting the foliage as this may promote disease development. Almost all geraniums benefit from regular fertilizer, especially those in containers. A dilute solution of a water-soluble fertilizer applied once or twice a month during the summer is ideal.
Encouraging more flowers – Geraniums benefit from regular deadheading (removal of spent blooms). Deadheading promotes the production of additional flowers by preventing seed formation. It also improves overall plant appearance.
Overwintering options – Geraniums can be kept indoors over the winter as container houseplants. They need bright light near a window, moderate temperatures, and regular watering. Another overwintering option for the common garden geranium is to store the geraniums as bare-root plants. Lift plants from ground beds or containers in fall before the first frost, gently shake the soil from the plant’s roots, and place the bare-root plants in a large paper, grocery bag. Store the geraniums in a dark, cool location (around 50 – 55 degrees F) for most of the winter. In March, remove the dead stem tips (cut back to firm, green stem tissue) and plant what is left in containers. Place containers in a sunny window and water as needed. Plants can be planted outside in May.
Common geraniums on the Iowa State University campus.
The geranium, zonal, is an annual flower named for the horseshoe-shaped band of dark color in the leaves of most varieties. Pelargonium species come from South Africa, but through hundreds of years of breeding, the parentage of today’s varieties has been obscured.
Annuals Image Gallery
Description: Zonal geraniums are upright bushes covered with red, pink, salmon, white, rose, cherry-red, or bicolored flowers on long stems held above the plant. Flower clusters (umbels) contain many individual flowers and give a burst of color. Plants from four-inch pots transplanted to the garden in spring will reach up to 18 inches tall and wide by the end of summer.
How to grow: Zonal geraniums benefit from full sun and moderate to rich, well-drained, moist soil. Incorporate a slow-release fertilizer into the soil at planting time. Plant after all danger of frost has passed and the soil is warm. Space them 12 inches apart. Remove spent blooms.
Propagation: Cuttings root easily. Make cuttings eight to ten weeks prior to planting out for husky plants. Seed-grown varieties should be started 10 to 12 weeks prior to garden planting. Seeds germinate in seven to ten days at 70 degrees to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Uses: Zonal geraniums provide pockets of color in any sunny spot. Group three or more together for color impact in flower borders or along walks and pathways. They’re classics in containers, by themselves or mixed with other plants. They will bloom through the winter in sunny windows. Zonal geraniums are also grown as standards-a single stem is trained to the desired height with a bushy globe of flowers and leaves above it.
Related species: Pelargonium x peltatum, the ivy-leaved geranium, has pendulous branches loaded with flowers and excels in window boxes and hanging baskets. Scented geraniums (Pelargonium species) have small or large leaves that may smell like roses or lemons and are grown as herbs. Martha Washington geraniums have showy, large flowers and are used as pot plants.
Related varieties: There are many varieties available at garden centers in the spring, in the whole color range of flower and leaf. Seed-grown singles will be virus free and can be found in many colors. Widely planted are Orbit, Maverick, Ringo, Bandit, and Regalia varieties. Black Magic contrasts dark foliage with pink and white flowers.
Scientific name: Pelargonium x hortorum
If you love the geranium’s pretty flowers but don’t have an outdoor garden, consider growing it as a house plant. We’ll show you how in the next section.
Want more information? Try these:
- Annual Flowers. Discover your favorite annual flowers. We’ve organized them by color, sunlight, soil type, and height to make it easy to plan your garden.
- Annuals. There’s more to an annuals garden than flowers. Learn about all of the annuals that enhance your garden.
- Perennial Flowers. Complement your annuals with these delightful perennial flowers. They are also organized by height, soil type, sunlight, and color.
Geraniums–How to Grow & Propagate
February 10, 2007 Article
Geraniums are usually classified as a ‘short-lived perennial,’ which means they typically live for more than a single year but these two varieties may merit a “perennial” classification in South Texas since they do well in summer and winter.
You can use these geraniums in beds and borders. A wide range of colors is available to complement virtually any color scheme you desire. In southern California (and now maybe in South Texas!), geraniums are used as a colorful groundcover on slopes and lawns. They are excellent in containers of all types: from small pots, large tubs, window boxes, and they combine well with other plants, such as petunias and ivies. Geraniums are one of your best bets for use in hanging baskets.
Scientific Name: Pelargonium hortorum as per L.H. Bailey
Common Geranium, Garden Geranium, Zonal Geranium (Pelargonium hortorum)
(P. x domesticum, largely derived from P. cucullatum, P. angulosum, and P. grandiflorum) have large pansy like flowers, few to the cluster.
Zonal, house, or bedding geraniums (P. x hortorum, a complex hybrid largely derived from P. inguinans and P. zonale) are the familiar forms in garden culture and in pots indoors. These species were introduced in Europe in the early 18th century and hybridizers have been busy creating stunning new varieties ever since.
Frost Tolerance: Hardy in San Antonio.
Heat Tolerance: Better considered as a cool season annual in San Antonio UNLESS ‘Strawberry Sizzle’ and ‘Violet’ varieties are used.
Sun Exposure: Light shade in summer in San Antonio UNLESS ‘Strawberry Sizzle’ and ‘Violet’ varieties are used then they can be planted in full sun
Origin: South Africa
Growth Habits: Shrubby perennials generally grown as tender annuals, up to three feet tall (45 cm)
Plant in ordinary well-drained soil. Plants grown in containers like to be root bound. Over-fertilization may result in excessive foliage and few flowers. When fertilizing, use Osmocote Slow-Release Fertilizer pellets for containers and use a NON-weed-and-feed Slow-release fertilizer such as 19-5-9 for beds or a 4-2-3 organic analysis.
Moisture: Keep soil moist during hot weather. Allow to dry between waterings during cool periods. Constantly wetting the soil will quickly rot roots. Treat with Turficide, a fungicide that contains terrachlor, if rot occurs. Use Daconil Fungicide for foliage disease if spots appear on the leaves.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 8 – 10. The geranium hybrids are tender perennials. They are grown as annuals in cooler zones. Plants can be dug and potted and brought inside for the winter. Some gardeners prefer to dig the plants and remove all of the soil from the roots. The roots are wrapped in newspaper and the plants placed in a cool dry place until spring.
Propagation: Geraniums can be grown from cuttings. For more information about how to propagate geraniums from cuttings, visit this website for further information:
To propagate geraniums from cuttings, first select containers three to four inches deep and fill them with moist (not overly wet) planting medium. Satisfactory rooting media include coarse sand, perlite, vermiculite or a mixture of these. Sterile commercial mixes are also available. Cut off shoot tips three to five inches in length and remove the leaves on the lower part of the stem. The use of a rooting hormone is recommended to stimulate the rooting process. This product is available at most garden centers. Dip the bottom one-half inch of each cutting in the rooting medium. Insert the cuttings to a depth of one and one-fourth inches to one and one-half inches. Firm the medium around the cuttings.
Avoid crowding the cuttings so there will be some air movement to help prevent disease. Cover the container with a plastic bag. This helps prevent excessive moisture loss, decreases wilting and increases rooting potential. Place the container in a warm location that receives bright, but indirect sun. Avoid excessive heat buildup in the bag by occasionally opening the top.
Check the moistness of the rooting medium every week. If properly chosen and prepared, it will usually stay fairly moist for several weeks before additional water is needed.
To determine when the cuttings have rooted, gently tug on the stem. If it resists being pulled from the rooting medium, roots have probably developed to a length of one-half inch to one inch, and the cuttings can be planted in small individual containers. Fill these containers with a coarse, well-drained growing mix, and pot the cuttings at the same depth as the original rooting medium. Gradually move the plants into more direct light and continue to water. Fertilization will not be needed until the cuttings show new top growth.
For more information visit this link at:
David Rodriguez is the County Extension Agent-Horticulture for Bexar County. For more information, call the Master Gardener ‘Hotline’ at (210) 467-6575 or visit our County Extension website at: https://bexar-tx.tamu.edu and click on Horticulture and Gardening.
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How to grow annual geraniums — also known as pelargoniums — including watering, pruning and taking cuttings for new plants. A complete geranium care guide!
One of my fondest memories is when I was a young child taking piano lessons, and the wonderful woman teaching me had a giant picture window where she placed all her plants in the Winter time, including her geraniums. It was always a magical site to me, as every plant rested on a china dish or a ceramic bowl — each one prettier than the next!
I can still picture everything so vividly. Maybe that’s what started my love of geraniums at an early age!
Why I added annual geraniums into our garden beds
When I attended the 2019 Philadelphia Flower Show a few months ago, I was almost overwhelmed with the amount of planting combinations and garden ideas there.
I tried my best to condense what I liked most into a blog post so you could get a sense of what I experienced: Garden Ideas from the 2019 Philadelphia Flower Show.
One of the sections in that blog post was about zonal geraniums, also commonly called annual geraniums. I wrote,
After taking in so many unusual plants and flowers, it was refreshing to see a display with annual Geraniums!
Note to self: Don’t just put these guys in containers — pop a few into the ground.
Inspiration from the 2019 Philadelphia Flower Show
Well, I’ve gone and done just that: planted several annual geraniums in our garden beds, in addition to the usual containers I plant as well.
Inspired by the ones I photographed up close at the Philadelphia Flower Show . . .
These geraniums inspired me to try something new…and simple.
. . . I went hunting for something similar in color to plant.
I found these at a small, local nursery:
They’re called a hybrid geranium, specifically: Calliope Medium Crimson Flame.
My idea was to plant geraniums that had the exact color of our Knock Out Roses so that I could continue that color throughout our garden beds.
Calliope Medium Crimson Flame Geranium (left) matches our Knock Out Roses perfectly!
I think I nailed it! And my husband noticed the exact color match right away — always a good thing, right?
Our neighbors across the street complimented me on how colorful the gardens are, and I think it’s because I added these geraniums. I really do.
My love for simple annual geraniums!
The truth is, I’ve always loved geraniums.
I love their simplicity.
I love their reliability.
When I plant geraniums, I don’t worry about fussing over them to make sure they survive.
Geraniums always look good, and only get better as the Summer season continues.
I smile when I water them.
I dutifully trim off their dying stems and deadhead the old flowers — even though the dead stems and flowers can separate and fall off the plant on their own, eventually, without my help.
And when I snap off a yellowing leaf, it gives me a chance to inhale the spicy geranium fragrance.
Heck, I snap off the green leaves just to enjoy the scent!
Geraniums add instant pops of color to the garden, as I found out this season, and I’m in total love with the result!
Are geraniums annual or perennial plants?
It depends which geraniums you’re talking about.
You see, annual geraniums are usually called geraniums and sometimes called zonal geraniums.
However, these geraniums are actually not geraniums.
The true name of annual geraniums is pelargonium. The full name is Pelargonium hotorum.
Pelargoniums are related to perennial geraniums, which only adds to one’s confusion when shopping for geraniums, as most nurseries and garden centers now carry both zonal (annual) geraniums as well as perennial geraniums.
I love the intense purple-blue flowers of the perennial Geranium Rozanne.
A short history about geraniums
The earliest history of geraniums dates back to pre-1600:
Most of the Pelargonium plants cultivated in Europe and North America have their origins in South Africa. … The first species of Pelargonium known to be cultivated was a native of South Africa. It was probably brought to the Botanical Garden in Leiden before 1600 on ships which had stopped at the Cape of Good Hope. In 1631, the English gardener John Tradescant the elder bought seeds from Rene Morin in Paris and introduced the plant to England. By 1724, several varieties had been introduced to Europe.
from Wikipedia’s entry on Pelargonium
The 1800s marked the height of Pelargonium popularity. In England, scented pelargoniums were grown in greenhouses, manor halls and cottage windows, and rose geranium oil became an inexpensive substitute for Attar of Rose (rose oil) in the French perfume industry.
from “Pelargoniums: An Herb Society of America Guide“
And how did Pelargoniums cross the pond to America?
Pelargoniums arrived in the U.S. with the early colonists. With “little access to spices,” scented pelargoniums were used by colonists as a flavoring for foods as early as 1818. Thomas Jefferson is said to have maintained a small collection at the President’s House. Scented geraniums were reportedly among the first houseplants “suggested as benefiting” from indoor lighting following Edison’s invention of the electric lamp in the late 1800s.
from “Pelargoniums: An Herb Society of America Guide“
For some very interesting reading with a cup of tea — on a rainy day when you can’t get outdoors to garden — click over to read Pelargoniums: An Herb Society of America Guide. It’s a 70-page booklet you can download for free — or read online — with everything from history to crafts to recipes. It’s an enjoyable and informative guide!
Do annual geraniums come back every year?
Although some annuals will come back every year because they easily drop their seeds back into your garden bed, annual geraniums will not return the following season. However, you can take cuttings of your geraniums to grow during the Winter season and plant the following Spring.
See cutting section below for tips.
Do geraniums bloom all Summer?
Yes. With just a bit of care on your part, annual geraniums will last the entire gardening season.
Depending on where you are located will determine how much care — or how little — your zonal geraniums require. If you’re gardening in Maine, for example, your geraniums won’t be baking in the hot sun like we have here at the New Jersey shore.
My gardening tips about geraniums in this guide are generalized for all USDA zones. You may or may not need to be concerned with all of them, depending on how happy your own geraniums are!
Are geraniums resistant to deer, rabbits and squirrels?
The answer depends on who you ask. Supposedly, the scent, taste and texture of annual geraniums are enough to strongly repel and deter deer, rabbits, squirrels and other rodents from being interested. However, if animals are hungry enough — or curious enough — they may nibble.
Just a few weeks ago, I found two chewed off flower stems laying next to one of our geranium plants. Obviously some type of critter tried them out and didn’t like them. Thankfully.
I think it was the rabbit who likes to play around in our garden bed. And I’m not kidding — we’ve watched this rabbit actually roll around in the mulch and take a snooze underneath some larger shrubs, before going back across the street to wherever his current abode is. I always think rabbits are so cute, until they do damage. Even then? I’m still a bit soft-hearted for them!
Annual geranium colors
Way back when, the most common colors of zonal geraniums were white, pink and red.
Fast forward to today, and these workhorses of the Summer garden come in every color imaginable, including peach and orange shades, rose and fuchsia colors, yellows, pale purples, deep magentas, and various pinks, reds and of course white.
Do geraniums prefer sun or shade?
Geraniums love growing in full sun, although they might need some partial shade in the southern United States.
Even here at the Jersey shore area, my own geraniums are definitely baking in the full Summer sun. They are blooming their hearts out — just as the ones which get some partial shade each afternoon in my garden beds — but their leaves appear to be an every-so-slightly lighter shade of green.
It’s interesting to observe.
Annual geraniums — watering requirements
Whether you are growing annual geraniums in pots or in the ground, allow the top of the soil to dry out in between waterings. Most experts suggest the soil should feel dry one inch down from the surface. Geraniums can tolerate some drought.
Annual geraniums — too much water
What happens if there is a prolonged amount of rainfall?
We’re having just that issue this week here at the Jersey shore, with heavy rain happening every night. (Darn nature!)
Here’s what might happen to your geraniums when there’s too much water, and what you can do to help them out . . .
Geranium leaves turning red
Here’s what some of our geranium leaves currently look like, after having so much rain:
When annual geranium leaves turn red, it means the plant is stressed in some way. In our case it’s definitely from too much water.
Red leaves can also signal a phosphorus deficiency. Try feeding the plants with a water-soluble fertilizer more regularly.
Snip off the affected red leaves, and hopefully sunnier days will help the geranium recover.
See Pruning section below for tips.
Geranium leaves turning yellow
If the leaves begin to turn yellow, it means almost the same thing as the leaves turning red: the plant is stressed. Again, it can be from too much or too little water, and possibly a lack of nutrients in the soil.
Snip off the yellowing leaves, ease up on watering and also fertilize.
See Pruning section below for tips.
Geranium flowers looking moldy
If you notice any of the geranium plant’s flowers getting moldy when there’s a lot of rainfall, remove those entire flower heads immediately. Cut them off at the base of their stem. It could be something called “botrytis” mold, and it is not fun. Removing whatever you can from the plant may prevent this mold from spreading.
(And I’m so glad I don’t have any examples from my own garden to show you! So far, so good!)
To see a list of other possible diseases that affect annual geraniums, check out this helpful list of Geranium Diseases from Penn State.
Best fertilizer for geraniums
I add Espoma Plant Tone into each planting hole when adding new plants to my garden beds or containers. It’s a slow-release fertilizer that keeps the plants happy all Summer long.
Here’s what the bag looks like, if you’re looking for it at a garden center or home improvement store:
You can also use a fertilizer that is mixed with water, with many brands sold widely at home improvement stores and garden centers. Miracle-Gro is a familiar example. Many of these fertilizers require more frequent applications, so be sure to follow the product’s instructions.
How to deadhead geraniums
I use Fiskars Pruning Snips for easy tasks like deadheading geraniums:
Fiskars Softouch Micro-Tip Pruning Snips
I find them to be easy on the hands and they make clean cuts.
I also like the little safety cap that comes with these pruning snips:
Deadheading annual geraniums is easy to do.
The spent blooms are easily recognizable:
If you just snip off the dead flower heads, you will soon be left with a brown stem sticking out of your plant.
I prune the dying or dead blooms far down along their stem — as far as you can go.
The base of the stem is usually hidden by the geranium’s leaves. Move those leaves gently with your free hand while snipping off the stem.
Remember: The more you remove the spent blooms, the more new flowers your geraniums will produce!
Pruning zonal geraniums for shape and size
Pinching or pruning geraniums during the start of the growing season can make the plant more bushy and full.
If you prune off the tops of the plants, you will encourage the plant to produce more leaves and new growth around the base for a more compact, bushier looking plant.
If you prune off the bottoms of the leaves around the base, you will encourage more growth vertically for a taller looking plant.
Try both ways to have varying heights in your garden beds and containers.
How to prune geraniums for shape and size:
- Pay attention to the plant’s stems.
- Once a stem has grown a couple of inches or more, prune off the rest of that stem, by snipping with garden scissors or pruners, leaving at least two inches of that stem.
- You can also pinch back the stem with your fingers.
- Soon, that stem will sprout two new stems off the original area where you cut it back.
- Use this same procedure to remove any spent blossoms or leaves that are dying or getting leggy throughout the Summer season.
Pruning discolored and dying leaves from zonal geraniums
I walk through the garden at least once a day to tidy up my annual geraniums. It’s a very quick thing to do, and so satisfying to see them looking good.
Keep your garden snips handy to remove any dying leaves.
Removing red or reddish leaves from geraniums
Here is one of my geraniums after the horrible rains we had, with the tell-tale reddish leaves:
Using my garden snips, I find the part of each reddish leaf’s stem that is closest to the main plant stem, and simply cut it off.
This geranium looks so much better after just about one minute of effort.
Removing yellow leaves from geraniums
The most common issue with zonal geranium leaves are yellowing or fully yellow leaves.
In many cases, these leaves will come off easily by gently pulling or pinching them off with your fingers.
If the leaf doesn’t come off after a gentle tug, use your snips.
Removing dying or diseased leaves from geraniums
Any time you see green leaves with signs of decay or disease, promptly remove them as well.
It doesn’t take long at all to help your geraniums look their best.
How to grow annual geraniums from seed
Can you grow geraniums from seed?
Yes, you can grow geraniums from seed, however cuttings are a much faster way to propagate your favorite geranium plants.
Here’s what you need to know if you want to grow geraniums from seed:
First, starting geraniums from seed is a very slow-growing process. If you want to start your geraniums from seed with plans to plant them in the ground in the Spring, you need to start your geranium seeds in late-January to mid-February.
Second, you can never be truly sure that you’re getting the correct seeds when you purchase those packets at the store. For many gardeners, this isn’t a big deal, but if there are any labeling errors or other seeds accidentally mixed in — and you’re wanting a very specific geranium type and color — you may be in for a surprise when the seedlings grow and begin to flower.
Just keep these two points in mind, and like I said — for most gardeners, it isn’t a big deal.
The best way to sow geranium seeds, from The Herb Society of America:
If you decide to take your chances and propagate from seed, HSA Pelargonium experts Caroline Amidon and Joyce Brobst have the following recommendations: Bury seed about 1⁄4 inch under soil, a little more or less depending on the size of the seed. Lightly cover with a piece of glass or plastic or use a growing tray with a plastic top. Soil should be kept moist, and seeds should remain covered until germination, after which the cover can be removed. Caroline and Joyce don’t suggest planting seeds directly in the garden. True species seeds are “too difficult to get” for the uncertainties of a garden planting, and as Joyce points out, “If you acquire seeds you want to know exactly where they are.” If collecting seed from existing plants, seeds can be harvested after flower carpels brown by drying the carpels in a paper bag for a few days.
from “Pelargoniums: An Herb Society of America Guide“
Things you need to know when growing geraniums from seed:
- Seeds must be started indoors, never sow directly into the ground outside.
- The seeds usually take one to two weeks to germinate, sometimes longer.
- Keep the seedlings near a bright, south-facing window or under grow lights.
- Flowers will appear in approximately 3 to 4 months.
- Pay close attention to the information on your seed packets, as each geranium type is different and some have earlier or later bloom times.
How to grow annual geraniums from cuttings
You can grow new geraniums from cuttings, as they root easily.
Rooting hormone is not really needed, as geraniums root fairly easily without it. However, some people swear by rooting hormone as helping plants root well.
How do you start geraniums from cuttings?
Cut a stem from the geranium between 4 inches to 6 inches in length.
Be sure to choose a stem that is not flowering.
The cutting should have one leaf at the tip — remove all other leaves using garden snips:
Leave at least two nodes on the cutting. Those nodes will go into water or soil — the two primary methods of propagating geraniums — to begin rooting.
Once the cuttings have rooted and are growing…
You can cut the top leaf off, as this will encourage two new stems to form from the single base stem, and encourage a bushier growing habit.
Remove any flower buds that begin to form, as you want the plant’s full energy concentrated on growing the plant stems, roots and leaves.
Can you root geranium cuttings in water?
Yes. Stick the geranium cuttings into a glass or jar of water. Place the glass near a sunny window but don’t place it in full sun.
How long does it take for geranium cuttings to root in water?
Geranium cuttings in water can root in approximately one month.
Can you root geranium cuttings in soil?
Yes. Stick the cuttings (described above) into soil using small pots.
How long does it take for geranium cuttings to root in soil?
Geranium cuttings in soil can root anywhere from one week to one month later.
The best “how to” that I’ve seen for rooting annual geraniums in soil is by Pamela of The Flower Patch Farmhouse. You can read her post — which includes a helpful video — by clicking here.
Winter care for annual geraniums
Can you keep a geranium in the Winter?
Yes, it’s quite common to bring your potted geraniums inside for the Winter season.
And if your geraniums are planted in a garden bed?
You can dig them up and plant them into a pot.
- Prune the plants back by approximately one-third.
- Water well.
- Place your potted geraniums in a cool but well-lit room for the Winter season. Placing them in a sunny window is perfect.
- Keep them on the dry side. Too much water during the Winter months could end up making the plants rot.
Before placing your geraniums back outside in the Spring, prune them down well, especially if there has been growth during the Winter season. They will begin growing and becoming nice and full in no time at all.
I hope this guide will help you care for your annual geraniums.
I’m looking forward to your feedback, comments and questions.