True Geranium Varieties and Tips for Growing Them

  • 01 of 07

    True Geraniums

    Gardening, planting of summer flowers
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    The term geranium is confusing. The first geranium most gardeners encounter is not a geranium at all. These fleshy leaved plants with long flower stakes and clustered blossoms are actually Pelargonium. Although a relative of the perennial geranium, they are not considered true geraniums.

    True, hardy, or perennial geraniums belong to the genus Geranium. You will sometimes see them referred to as cranesbill geraniums because their seed pods do somewhat resemble a crane's bill. They are low growing plants that spread via rhizomes. The foliage is often toothed and remains attractive. The flowers float on top of the plant, in shades of white, pink, magenta, purple, and blue.

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  • 02 of 07

    Geranium Endressii

    Growing Geranium endressii
    Growing Geranium endressii. Marie Iannotti

    Geranium endressii is probably what most gardeners envision when they think about hardy geraniums. It forms mounds of deeply-cut, glossy green foliage topped with cup-shaped flowers in various shades of pink or magenta. Geranium endressii is a quick spreader and makes a wonderful groundcover or mass planting.

    The standard-bearer of Geranium endressii is 'Wargrave Pink.' This particular geranium can be spotted in just about every photo of a British garden and it has proven to be widely adaptable in other areas as well.

    Geranium endressii is an early summer bloomer and stays in flower for several weeks. After the blooms fade, the whole plant should be sheared back to basal growth. It will fill in extremely quickly and you should get repeat blooms here and there throughout the season. The foliage remains evergreen in milder zones.

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  • 03 of 07

    Geranium Sanguineum

    Bloody cranesbill (Geranium sanguineum var. Stratum)
    Anne Green-Armytage / Getty Images

    Geranium sanguineum has the unfortunate nickname of Bloody Cranesbill because its foliage turns a bright crimson in the fall. It is actually an attractive plant all season, in or out of bloom. The foliage is usually more distinctly cut than other geraniums, giving it a delicate appearance. The typical cup-shaped flowers come in shades of pink, magenta, and white. Geranium sanguineum has one of the best bloom displays of all the geraniums. The flowers can completely hide the foliage and repeat bloom can be expected. Geranium sanguineum spreads less quickly than Geranium endressii and really requires little to no care.

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  • 04 of 07

    Geranium Clarkei

    Clarke's geranium is best known for the white-flowered 'Kashmir White.' 'Kashmir White' is not the hardiest grower, but the white flowers and finely cut foliage make it garden-worthy. 'Kashmir Purple' is a more vigorous plant that also spreads more vigorously.

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  • 05 of 07

    Geranium 'Johnson's Blue'

    geranium 'johnson's blue', june beaulieu
    Christopher Fairweather / Getty Images

    Geranium 'Johnson's Blue' was the first of the brilliant blue geraniums to catch gardeners' eyes. The Royal Horticultural Society gave it the Award of Garden Merit (AGM). The blue of its flowers is hard to photograph and more stunning when you actually see the plant. The flower stalks can grow quite tall and will droop under the weight of the blossoms. Most gardeners don't bother to stake them, since it is still an attractive plant, even with its floppy habit.

    Cut back the flowers after the first bloom, to get sporadic repeat blooms. Often the whole plant can begin to look scraggly and a good shearing is needed to rejuvenate it.

    'Johnson's Blue' geranium is drought tolerant. It blooms best in full sun but appreciates some afternoon shade in hot, dry areas. It's very disease resistant and a magnet for bees and butterflies.

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  • 06 of 07

    Geranium 'Double Jewel'

    Geranium 'Double Jewel'
    Geranium 'Double Jewel'. Photo Courtesy of van Bourgondien (http://www.dutchbulbs.com/bulbs)

    Geranium 'Double Jewel' is a compact geranium with a more upright growing habit than you usually see in hardy varieties. Growing a mere 10 inches in height, a single plant can easily fill a 10-inch pot and be perfectly happy growing there.

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  • 07 of 07

    Geranium 'Southcombe Double'

    Geranium 'Southcombe Double' has pure pink, fluffy double blossoms that don't look like geraniums at first glance. But it's every bit as hardy and easy-going as its geranium cousins, with the bonus of blooming almost non-stop throughout the summer, into fall.