16 Eye-Catching Varieties of Hardy Geranium

Bloody cranesbill geranium with purple petals

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Hardy geraniums, often known by the common name "cranesbill," are the plants that truly own the Geranium genus name. The annual "geraniums" so popular for container gardening seem to get more attention, but they actually belong to the Pelargonium genus. But, once you've grown hardy geraniums, annual geraniums may lose their appeal.

Hardy perennial geraniums shrug off cold winters, with many hardy to zone 3. Pests generally pass over hardy geraniums, so no chemical sprays are needed. Plants have a long bloom season, and the lobed foliage is attractive even out of bloom. Plus, hardy geraniums don't demand frequent division, and, once established, they're among the easiest of all perennials to grow.

In general, hardy geraniums are tolerant of a broad range of soil, temperature, and sunlight conditions, though they prefer well-draining soil. The warmer the climate, the more the plants will appreciate some afternoon shade. Cutting back the plants often results in a second flush of flowers in the late summer or early fall.

The Geranium genus is quite a large one, comprising more than 400 species. The common varieties grown by gardeners include about 18 different species and their named cultivars as well as a number of hybrid crosses derived from breeding different species.

Here are 16 great varieties of hardy geranium to consider for your garden.

Gardening Tip

Hardy geranium is the rare plant that does best without any fertilizer at all, though it may appreciate an annual top-dressing of compost around its base.

  • 01 of 16

    'Buxton Blue,' 'Buxton's Variety' (Geramium wallichianum 'Buxton's Blue')

    'Buxton Blue' geranium with bicolor petals
    Neil Holmes / Getty Images

    If you want to stump your horticulturally savvy friends, grow a lesser-known geranium variety like G. wallichianum 'Buxton Blue' (also known as 'Buxton's Variety'). It flowers in early summer, often producing a second, lesser flush of blooms in early fall. Place the small plants in your container garden, where you can observe the detail of the white eye up close. Watch out for slugs, which love geraniums, especially ones grown in shadier locales. Handpick slugs in the morning, or set out beer traps. 

    • Native Area: Himalayas
    • USDA Growing Zones: 4–9
    • Height: 12–20 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 02 of 16

    'Rozanne' (Geranium 'Gerwat' 'Rozanne')

    'Rozanne' geraniums with purple flowers
    Joshua McCullough / Getty Images

    'Rozanne' is a hybrid geranium cultivar that was named the 2008 Perennial Plant of the Year. While 'Rozanne' is a trademarked name, the cultivar name is 'Gerwat.' This plant is responsible for shining the spotlight on hardy geraniums in general and caused a resurgence of interest in their role in the garden. 'Rozanne' features large blue flowers (and lots of them) over a long blooming season. These tidy plants have a nicely rounded shape, with mounds of chartreuse foliage that soften border edges even when plants aren't in bloom. This plant is a cross between Geranium wallichianum 'Buxton's Variety' and a cultivar of Geranium himalayense.

    • Native Area: Nursery hybrid; parent species are native to Himalayas
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5–8
    • Height: 12–18 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 03 of 16

    'Elsbeth' (Geranium sanguineum 'Elsbeth')

    'Elsbeth' geraniums with magenta flowers
    Brian Carter / Getty Images

    The magenta blossoms of 'Elsbeth' geraniums pop against healthy green foliage at the front of the border. This cultivar of bloody geranium (G. sanguineum) produces a large flush of blooms in June, and a smaller repeat blooming occurs in September. Provide plants with rich, well-drained soil and three inches of mulch to keep the roots cool and moist. 

    • Native Area: Europe and western Asia
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–8
    • Height: 9–14 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 04 of 16

    'Alba' (Geranium maderense 'Alba')

    'Alba' geraniums with white flowers
    Dorling Kindersley / Getty Images

    Gardeners can never have too many white flowers, and the deeply divided foliage of the 'Alba' cultivar only increases the ornamental value of this plant. This hardy geranium appreciates soil with excellent drainage and will shine in your rock garden. Shear the plants when blooms fade to keep it tidy. This is quite a large plant for a geranium, and it doesn't tolerate frost.

    • Native Area: Madeira, Portugal
    • USDA Growing Zones: 9–11
    • Height: 4–5 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    Continue to 5 of 16 below.
  • 05 of 16

    'Espresso' (Geranium maculatum 'Espresso')

    'Espresso' geranium with lavender flowers
    Joshua McCullough / Getty Images

    Dark, moody foliage is very on-trend in the landscape, and this seldom-seen variety will turn heads in your summer garden. Lavender flowers bloom in May and June. Native to woodland areas, 'Espresso' prefers more moisture than other hardy geraniums and also tolerates more shade. Keep 'Espresso' geraniums mulched, but don't mulch the crowns of the plants, which can cause rot. 

    • Native Area: Eastern North America
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5–8
    • Height: 18–24 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 06 of 16

    'Summer Skies' (Geranium pratense 'Summer Skies')

    'Summer Skies' geranium with purple flowers
    Anne Green-Armytage / Getty Images

    Geranium pratense 'Summer Skies' is the antidote to the ordinary bloody cranesbill plant, which some gardeners find a bit on the weedy side. Double flowers with veining appear in late spring and continue for several weeks in hot areas or throughout the season in cooler regions. The flowers of this hardy geranium last longer in sites with afternoon shade. 

    • Native Area: Europe, Asia
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–8
    • Height: 16–20 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 07 of 16

    'Splish Splash' (Geranium pratense ‘Splish Splash’)

    'Splish Splash' geranium with purple-flecked white petals
    Chris Burrows / Getty Images

    'Splish Splash' brings a level of novelty to the cranesbill group that appeals to many gardeners. Every petal features a different pattern of flecks and specks that endures for several weeks in the summer. Shear the plants back when blooming slows for a repeat show in early fall. For maximum effect in the garden design, add a companion planting that emphasizes one of the two colors of 'Splish Splash,' like 'Blue Hill' meadow sage or candytuft

    • Native Area: Europe, Asia
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–9
    • Height: 23–27 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 08 of 16

    'Springtime' (Geranium phaeum 'Springtime')

    'Springtime' geranium with burgundy flowers
    Dan Rosenholm / Getty Images

    Also known as mourning widow geranium, 'Springtime' hardy geraniums sport deep-burgundy spring flowers held aloft on wiry stems. Leaves emerge with a variegated pattern but eventually settle into a green tone in the summer. 

    • Native Area: Southeastern Europe
    • USDA Growing Zones: 4–8
    • Height: 12–18 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    Continue to 9 of 16 below.
  • 09 of 16

    'Ann Folkard' (Geranium 'Ann Folkard')

    'Ann Folkard' geraniums with purple flowers
    Ron Evans / Getty Images

    'Ann Folkard' geraniums spread generously in the garden, weaving bright green foliage and purple flowers with neighboring plants to fill in all gaps in the summer border. Plant this cultivar beside a silvery artemisia for a contrasting cloud of beauty.  'Ann Folkard' is a hybrid cross between G. procurrens and G. psilostemon.

    • Native Area: Nursery hybrid; parents species are native to Himalayas and southwestern Asia
    • USDA Growing Zones: 4–8
    • Height: 12–18 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 10 of 16

    'Sirak' (Geranium 'Sirak')

    'Sirak' geraniums with purple flowers
    Michael Davis / Getty Images

    As is the case with many hybrid plants, 'Sirak' hardy geraniums are consistent and reliable garden performers. June and July bring violet flowers with dark veining and a white blotch that makes them interesting cut flowers. The plant often reblooms if it's sheared back after the first blooms fade. This plant is a hybrid cross between G. gracile and G. ibericum, both native to western Asia.

    • Native Area: Nursery hybrid; parent species are native to western Asia
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5–9
    • Height: 24–30 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 11 of 16

    'Patricia' (Geranium 'Patricia')

    'Patricia' geranium with purple flowers
    Rosalind Simon / Getty Images

    'Patricia' is another hybrid creation, this one a cross between Geranium endressii and G. psilostemon. While the trailing and mounding types of hardy geraniums have their place at the border's edge, some situations call for a taller plant. 'Patricia' is taller than most, reaching a height of about 30 inches. Plant this variety alongside ornamental grasses or baby's breath for a breezy garden effect. 

    • Native Area: Nursery hybrid; parent species are native to Pyrenees and southwestern Asia
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5–8
    • Height: 12–18 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 12 of 16

    'Carol' (Geranium cinereum ‘Carol’)

    'Carol' geraniums with magenta flowers
    Neil Holmes / Getty Images

    A dwarf cranesbill such as 'Carol' breathes life into crevices and other difficult-to-plant pockets in the garden in late spring and summer with wine-colored flowers and grayish-green foliage. 'Carol' also makes a rock wall into a vertical garden when you plant small divisions between gaps. Water this living wall thoroughly the first season until plants establish a deep root system. 

    • Native Area: Pyrenees
    • USDA Growing Zones: 4–9
    • Height: 6–8 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    Continue to 13 of 16 below.
  • 13 of 16

    'Plenum' (Geranium himalayense ‘Plenum’)

    'Plenum' geranium with purple flowers
    Mark Turner / Getty Images

    One aspect of geraniums that turn many gardeners off is their habit of self-seeding all over the garden. However, 'Plenum' hardy geraniums are sterile, so they stay where you put them. If you do fall in love with their double violet flowers and tolerance of many growing conditions, you can propagate them by division in the spring. 

    • Native Area: Himalayas
    • USDA Growing Zones: 2–9
    • Height: 16–20 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 14 of 16

    'Stephanie' (Geranium 'Stephanie')

    'Stephanie' geraniums with purple flowers
    Neil Holmes / Getty Images

    In contrast to the many sprawling hardy geraniums available, 'Stephanie' produces a very compact plant that perks up the late spring border. The blue flowers with deep purple veins are very showy when paired with white flowers like sweet alyssum or phlox. Discovered at the Royal Botanical Garden in Scotland, this plant is believed to be a cross between Geranium peloponnesiacum and G. renardii

    • Native Area: Nursery hybrid
    • USDA Growing Zones: 4–9
    • Height: 12–16 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 15 of 16

    'Ingwersen's Variety' (Geranium macrorrhizum ‘Ingwersen's Variety’)

    'Ingwersen's Variety' geraniums with pale pink flowers
    Neil Holmes / Getty Images

    In addition to its unusual name, this hardy geranium stands apart from others due to its aromatic leaves, which release fragrant oils when crushed. Walter Ingwersen probably didn't notice this feature immediately when he discovered it growing on a mountainside in Yugoslavia in 1929, but its stunning amethyst buds and contrasting pale pink flowers surely caught his eye. 

    • Native Area: Southeastern Alps, Balkans
    • USDA Growing Zones: 4–8
    • Height: 6–12 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 16 of 16

    'Johnson's Blue' (Geranium ibericum 'Johnson's Blue')

    'Johnson's Blue' geraniums with purple flowers
    Christopher Fairweather / Getty Images

    One of the first of the popular hardy geraniums, 'Johnson's Blue' remains a favorite—and for good reason. Spreading mounds of sharply cut leaves produce sky-blue flowers from spring through midsummer. This plant requires very little care and is virtually free of pest and disease problems.

    • Native Area: Western Asia
    • USDA Growing Zones: 4–8
    • Height: 12–24 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade