Geraniums are amongst the easiest flowers that you can grow in the garden. This makes them ideal for children, novices and nervous gardeners. The colorful blooms are also popular with more experienced gardeners, especially those who value the presence of a few low maintenance plants in their gardens. With just a little care the geranium can provide you with long lasting color throughout the growing season.
Thriving in warm weather the geranium, also known as the Cranesbill or Pelargonium is native to South Africa. Ideal for sunny spots, these plants also thrive undercover in sunrooms and greenhouses. Some types even flourish in notoriously difficult conditions such as coastal gardens. With over 400 different types currently recorded you can find geraniums growing in a range of shapes and sizes. The different types also produce different shapes and sized foliage, some leaves may even be fragrant.
This guide to the different types of geraniums will take you through the different varieties, explaining their unique attractions and where they are best used. We will also highlight some of the most attractive types of geraniums and provide you with some general care and planting tips.
The geranium is one of the most popular bedding plants.
25 Types of Geraniums
There are a number of different geranium plants. To make selection easier they are often divided into groups. The following are the most common groups or varieties:
- Zonal Pelargoniums are commonly grown as bedding plants. Available in a range of colors from light whites and pinks to dark reds they are ideal for mixed flower beds, window boxes and flower pots. Zonal varieties typically have rounded foliage. The flowers develop in clusters along long, elegant stems.
- Ivy-Leaved pelargoniums also have long, flower bearing stems. As the flowers open the stems bend towards the ground. Ivy-Leaved foliage can be smooth and shiny. Flowering in a range of colors, these plants are ideal for hanging baskets and planters.
- Fancy Leaf pelargoniums, as the name suggests, develop masses of interesting foliage. This can be variegated or colorful. The foliage, depending on the cultivar, can be dark green, yellow, white or golden.
- Regal Pelargoniums typically bear large, patterned flowers in small clusters. The foliage may also be toothed. Further adding to the interest, some cultivars also produce scented foliage.
- Scented-Leaf Pelargoniums produce, as the name suggests, fragrant foliage. Depending on the cultivar the foliage can smell like pineapples, limes, peppermints, citrus fruits, roses or lemons.
- Angel Pelargoniums are miniature Regal Pelargoniums. The foliage, small and rounded, can resemble pansies or violas. This variety is ideal for small areas, pots and hanging baskets.
- Decorative pelargoniums are one of the most varied types of geraniums. Some Decorative types date back to the Victorian period. Others are relatively modern. Flowering in a range of colors and sizes these plants are ideal for pots, single specimen planting or sunrooms.
- Stellar Pelargoniums were developed in Australia in the 1970s. The starry blooms may appear delicate but are, in reality, pleasingly resilient and long lasting. Stellar Pelargoniums are tolerant of both heat and full sun positions.
- Unique Pelargoniums are similar to Scented-Leaf varieties. What sets them apart is that Unique Pelargoniums tend to produce more showy flowers. Developed in the early 1800s, Unique Pelargonium cultivars require regular pruning to maintain their bushy growth habit.
Star shaped petals are a pleasing addition to the garden.
The following are some of the most attractive and versatile types of geraniums currently available.
1 Ann Folkard
Ann Folkard is one of the most popular types of geraniums thanks to its attractive, cupped flowers. The magenta petals combine with a black, star shaped center to create an eye-catching effect. Further adding to the interest is the bright chartreuse foliage. This darkens as the summer progresses. A hybrid plant, Ann Folkard is a sturdy type popular for its vigorous growth habit.
The similar-looking Anne Thomson geranium cultivar produces large magenta-pink flowers with dark centers. More compact and heat tolerant than Ann Folkard, Anne Thomson flowers from late spring until the first frosts of fall.
2 Herb Robert
Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum) is popular for its small, pink five petal flowers. One of the best long lasting types of geraniums, these plants reliably flower from late spring until the fall. Also known as Fox Geranium, Herb Rbert’s dissected leaves and petals turn red in late summer or early fall providing late season interest to the garden.
Herb Robert is an attractive and reliable variety.
3 Garden Geranium
Garden Geranium (Pelargonium x hortorum) is one of the most common types of geraniums. A tall, elegant variety, the Garden Geranium is a good choice for hanging baskets as well as pots and planters. The large single or double flowers that form into cluster-like balls, come in a range of shades including pink, white, red, lavender and orange.
4 Giant Herb-Robert
The Giant Herb-Robert cultivar, (G. maderense) also known as the Madeira Cranesbill, can reach up to 60 inches in height, making it a good choice for adding floral color and height to the middle or back of mixed flower beds. When in bloom, the pink flowers sit on red stems above divided, fern-like foliage. Giant Herb Robert is considered a reliable cultivar, especially in temperate areas.
5 Meadow Cranesbill
Meadow Cranesbill (G. pratense) is a medium to tall specimen. Flowering from June to September, this grassland perennial produces attractive, deeply cut foliage and long, hairy stems that are red in color. The flowers sit atop the elegant stems, blooming in violet-blue shades.
6 Martha Washington
Martha Washington (Pelargonium domesticum) is one of the largest flowering types of geraniums. A pleasingly cold weather hardy plant, Martha Washington flowers from early spring well into fall, long after other types of geraniums have faded for the year. Martha Washington flowers are bicolored, typically with a dark center. Popular combinations include pink and magenta, lavender and violet, pink and white and bright crimson and red.
Czakor (G. macrorrhizum) is an ideal choice for a low maintenance garden. Bred to be both disease and pest resistant, Czakor types of geraniums are amongst the easiest to grow. The magenta flowers emerge in late spring and can last throughout the summer months. Further adding to the interest, the foliage can, sometimes, take on a purple tint. Czakor plants reach up to 1 ft in height.
Espresso (G. maculatum) is named for its chocolate colored leaves. Above these sit saucer shaped bi-colored blooms. While the petals are purple-pink the centers are creamy white in color. Hardy and easy to cultivate, Espresso plants can grow up to 2 ft tall.
Many varieties, such as Espresso, are delicately colored.
9 Wild Geranium
Wild Geranium (G. maculatum), also known as Spotted or Wood Geranium is another of the tall growing types of geraniums on our list. These plants are capable of reaching up to 2 ft tall, making them ideal for adding height and interest to mixed flower beds. Flowering from April until June the petals come in various shades of purple.
Popular for its dark lavender-blue flowers, Brookside flowers from the spring until the fall.The flowers typically have dark purple veins and small white eyes. These colorful blooms sit above lacy green foliage. Further adding to the interest, as the last of the fall flowers fade the plants turn an eye-catching shade of red-orange.
Magnificum is another of the hardier types of geraniums on our list. Flowering in early spring, in cool climates Magnificum can continue to flower throughout the summer months and well into the fall. When in bloom, Magnificum produces purple-magenta flowers with small white centers. These attractive blooms sit above rich green foliage.
The flowers sit on stems above the green foliage.
Orion is popular for its mauve-blue petals that are decorated with iridescent purple veins. Small white eyes are also visible when the blooms are fully open. Capable of reaching around 30 inches in height, the flowers sit above mid-green leaves. Orion, like many types of geraniums, is ideal for mixed flower beds as well as planting as seasonal groundcover.
13 Dusky Cranesbill
Dusky Cranesbill (G. Phaeum) is sometimes called the Black Widow flower. This is because the petals can be maroon or deep purple, almost black in color. You can also find white flowering varieties. The hammock shaped foliage further adds to the interest. Thriving in damp, shade positions, Dusky Cranesbill flowers during the late spring and early summer months. A resilient specimen, the spreading foliage makes Dusky Cranesbill a good choice for suppressing weeds or providing groundcover in shady places.
14 Mavis Simpson
Mavis Simpson is popular for its attractive pink flowers with soft, white centers. These elegant, calming blooms sit above green foliage on elegant, long stems. Reaching no more than 18 inches tall in ideal conditions, Mavis Simpson is also an attractive groundcover choice.
Rozanne is one of the most versatile types of geraniums. This cultivar is popular for its violet-blue flowers that are decorated with purple veins and white centers, creating an eyecatching, contrasting effect. Rozanne is ideal for beds, hanging baskets and planters. The colorful blooms are particularly effective in mixed flower beds and cottage garden planting schemes.
Cranesbill (G. Sanguineum) flowers throughout the summer months in favorable areas. Sitting above the fern-like foliage, the rich magenta-pink flowers look up towards the sky, Further adding to the interest, dark veins are visible on the leaves. Cranesbill can flower from early spring until the start of fall.
Dark veins add further interest to these flowers.
17 Max Frei
Max Frei is one of the best types of geraniums for planting in both partial shade and full sun positions. It is also ideal for planting in rock gardens or edging paths and patios. One of the smaller plants listed here, Max Frei rarely exceeds 12 inches in height. The saucer shaped, pink-magenta flowers are popular with butterflies and pollinators.
18 Armenian Cranesbill
Armenian Cranesbill (G. Psilostemon) is one of the tallest types of geraniums. Measuring around 4 ft high when fully grown, the magenta petals can turn red during the fall. These hardy plants also produce sturdy, fan shaped leaves. Flowering from late spring until the end of summer, Armenian Cranesbill grows well in both full and partial sun positions.
Mayflower (G. Sylvaticum) is a great choice if you are looking for an attractive plant which produces flowers and foliage throughout the summer months. The blue violet petals of the Mayflower cultivar sit on elegant stems up to 30 inches above dense foliage. Flowering from late spring until early summer Mayflower is a versatile choice thriving in a range of planting positions including baskets, flower beds and planters. Like many types of geraniums, Mayflower is also easy to grow.
One of the deciduous types of geraniums, Wlassovianum is a perennial plant. Easy to cultivate the flowers are saucer-shaped and deep purple in color. The white centers and dark purple veins add further interest as does the attractive, green foliage. Reaching up to 2 ft in height these plants are both pest and disease resistant.
21 Mrs Kendall Clark
An attractive, clump forming cultivar, Mrs Kendall Clark is popular for its vigorous growth habit and attractive flowers. The blooms are typically a soft shade of lavender. White veins can sometimes be visible. The stems, on which the flowers develop, can grow up to 3 ft tall, towering over the plant’s dark green foliage.
22 Caucasian Cranesbill
Caucasian Cranesbill (G. Renardii) is one of the easiest types of geraniums to grow. A low maintenance flower, the blooms sit up to 12 inches above green foliage. Initially white, with rich purple stripes and yellow centers the flowers of the Caucasian Cranesbill turn yellow in the fall, further adding to their attraction.
The white flowers, marked with purple stripes, make the Caucasian Cranesbill a standout addition to the flowerbed.
23 Wargrave Pink
Wargrave Pink (G. X Oxonianum) is a reliable choice for planting in flower beds, borders and containers. A disease and pest resistant cultivar, Wargrave Pink produces long lasting salmon or silvery pink flowers. These attractive blooms can grow to 2 ft tall and contrast nicely with the plant’s medium green foliage.
24 Lemon Fancy
Lemon Fancy is so called because of its citrus fragrance. The flower petals are lavender, darkening as they reach the dark purple centers. One of the most sensitive types of geraniums, Lemon Fancy pelargonium is very vulnerable to cold temperatures and frost. In cooler climates you are advised to either grow Lemon Fancy outside, moving the plants undercover before the fall temperatures arrive, or to cultivate these attractive specimens as houseplants.
Despite the name, Lemon Fancy produces pink flowers.
25 Southcombe Double
Southcombe Double (G. X Oxonianum F. Thurstonianum) is, thanks to its powder puff-like flowers, one of the most eye-catching types of geraniums. Blooming in shades of salmon pink, the flowers sit on stems up to 16 inches above the green foliage. Initially around five petals appear, but as the season progresses the flowers fill out, adding a spectacular touch to borders, cottage gardens, planters and pots. You can also grow Southcombe Double as groundcover.
Caring for Different Types of Geraniums
Most types of geraniums are hardy in USDA Zones 5 to 8. Some varieties also tolerate planting in USDA Zone 9.
Geraniums are one of the easiest flowering plants to grow. They are ideal for growing outside in sunny, sheltered conditions. You can also grow them indoors in the sunroom or greenhouse. In return for just a little care all types of geraniums fill your garden with long lasting color and interest.
Planted in a sunny spot, these are easy to grow, long lasting flowers.
When planting, try to select a full sun position. Ideally your flowers should receive 6 to 8 hours of light every day. The majority of types of geraniums thrive in sunny spots. However, more delicate types may appreciate some protection from the afternoon sun. If your garden or greenhouse has little or no shade, a Black Sun Sunblock Shade Cloth can be used to protect sensitive plants.
The soil should be light and well draining. Most types of geraniums are pleasingly tolerant of different soil types but they tend to prefer a neutral or alkaline soil. Weed and work the soil over, removing stones and clumps, before planting.
If you are planting in hanging baskets or flower pots, use a peat-free multi-purpose compost. A product containing a slow release fertilizer either added in before purchase or worked in by yourself is ideal.
If you are cultivating the plants undercover, they require temperatures of 65 to 70 ℉ during the day and no cooler than 55 ℉ at night.
To plant, make a hole in the soil. It should be large enough to comfortably hold the pot currently holding your geranium. When you are happy with the size of the hole, remove your plant from its pot. Gently tease the roots apart and place in the hole. Backfill and water.
Space each plant 8 to 12 inches apart. The larger the variety the more space it requires.
Spacing the plants out gives them room to develop without the danger of overcrowding.
After planting, a layer of mulch can also be applied around the flowers. This helps the soil to retain moisture, ensuring that your plants don’t go thirsty during the warm summer days. Mulching also prevents the soil from getting too hot.
When to Water and Fertilize
Once established these are largely drought tolerant plants. This means that they may only require watering during prolonged dry spells. As the first flowers fade a good drink of water can encourage a second floral show to develop.
While most types of geraniums are not heavy feeders, the plants do benefit from a dose of high-potash fertilizer. Depending on the strength of the product, this can be applied once every 7 to 14 days during the summer months.
Do My Plants Require Pruning?
Most types of geraniums are small, compact plants. If planted correctly, even the tallest varieties rarely outgrow their position. This means that the plants rarely require pruning.
Regularly deadheading spent blooms encourages more flowers to form.
A little care and regular deadheading encourages the plants to flower throughout the summer months.
Taller specimens, especially if growing in mixed flower beds may require some support such as staking with a Jollybower Garden Stakes. This prevents them from bending over when in full bloom, blocking out the light from reaching smaller flowers.
As fall turns to winter, move pots inside to protect them from the cold winter temperatures. Continue to water sporadically throughout the cooler months. Return the pots to their outside position in the spring, once the last frost date has passed. If you struggle to move large pots, try placing them on a Bright Creations Metal Plant Caddy.
Most types of geraniums growing in beds are often treated as annuals. Simply dig them up in the fall and, if they are healthy, place them on the compost heap. However, you can also keep the plants for the following year.
To overwinter a geranium plant, lift it from the ground before the first frost and replant in a small pot. Remove any damaged leaves and flowers. Taller plants can also be cut down by about a third.
Place the pots in a light, frost free spot such as on a greenhouse shelf. Water lightly throughout the winter months. Unlike other flowers, most types of geraniums don’t become completely dormant during the winter months. This means that they require a regular dose of water.
In the spring, apply a dose of balanced or general purpose liquid fertilizer and gradually increase the amount of water you apply. Once the last frost has passed, harden off the plants and transplant outside.
Specimens growing as houseplants can be allowed to flower throughout the fall and winter months. Just keep them away from any radiators or fires.
How to Propagate a Geranium
To propagate, take cuttings from new growth. This is best done in late summer. If you have overwintered the plants, cuttings can also be taken in the spring.
Make the cut above the third joint below the growing tip. Pinch out any flowering buds that are present. Remove all the foliage apart from the top two leaves. Recut the base of the stem just below the lowest joint. It is from this joint that new roots emerge.
Plant in a pot filled with fresh cutting compost to a depth of 1 cm or 0.4 inches. Water and place in a light, warm position. Don’t allow the cuttings to get too hot. You can also place the cuttings in a propagator. Using a propagator with humidity vents enables you to better control the conditions around the plants.
If you are taking cuttings from different varieties, remember to label them.
Regularly water the soil. It shouldn’t be allowed to get too dry. Roots typically form within 2 weeks.
Pests and Diseases
If correctly spaced out and not overwatered, most types of geraniums are pleasingly problem free.
Some types of geraniums such as Zonal varieties are susceptible to pelargonium rust. This is a fungal disease that tends to develop during wet periods. It can also be caused by planting flowers too closely together. This impairs the airflow around the plants, creating damp conditions where mold and disease can flourish.
Rust causes brown spots to develop on the underside of leaves. Affected specimens should be lifted and destroyed.
Slugs and snails can be a problem for bedding plants, particularly when they are young.
Aphids and other pests may also sometimes appear on the foliage. These can be simply picked off and destroyed. More severe infestations can also be treated with an application of homemade insecticidal soap.
For more information about successfully growing geraniums, why not consult our in depth guide.
Regularly check the foliage for signs of infestation.
Colorful and easy to care for, most types of geraniums are ideal for the garden. Versatile specimens you can cultivate geraniums as bedding plants, in pots or hanging baskets. They can also be grown as colorful houseplants. Combined with other bedding plants, or more unusual garden flowers such as lavender and nemesia, you can use all types of geraniums to fill your garden with a long lasting, colorful floral display.