(Hardy geranium) Indispensable, easy to grow and often long-flowering, what more does any gardener want from a plant? We are, of course, talking about hardy geraniums as opposed to the brightly coloured ones grown for summer colour which are pelargoniums.The flowers might be small but they are produced in great profusion.
Left to right: Geranium clarkei 'Kashmir White', Geranium psilostemon 'Catherine Deneuve', Geranium x magnificum, Geranium 'Mavis Simpson'
Geranium Flowers & Leaves
The blooms of Geraniums can be flat and open, trumpet shaped or cupped. Some are produced in sprays, others singularly while the leaves, which again are amply produced, are usually mid-green but some have leaves of another colour. The mid-green leaves of Geranium ‘Ann Folkard’ are yellow leaves in spring, while Geranium pratense ‘Marshmallow’ has dark red leaves. Some geraniums are upright or mounding, others will spread to cover the ground.
Left to right: yellow leaved Geranium 'Ann Folkard', semi-evergreen Geranium macrorrhizum, brown leaved Geranium pratense 'Marshmallow', variegated Geranium phaeum 'Springtime'
As there are hundreds of different hardy geraniums, to make choosing from them a little easier they can be divided into the following groups:
Spring Flowering Geranium
Starting from early May these are invaluable for providing spotted colour in borders and shadier areas of the garden which as the leaves on trees emerge will disappear into the shade.
Other good choices: Geranium ‘Prelude’, Geranium 'Stephanie'
Left to right: Early blooming varieties Geranium sylvaticum 'Mayflower', Geranium nodosum 'Clos du Coudray', Geranium 'Stephanie', Geranium 'Prelude'
Low-growing & Spreading Geranium
The lowest growing Hardy Geraniums grow to around 30cm high. Many spread or sprawl around, making them perfect ground covering plants. Others form neat low hummocks that are great for placing at the front of a border.
Types: Geranium sanguineum
Other good choices: Geranium ‘Dilys’, Geranium ‘Elke’, Geranium ‘Philipe Vapelle’
Left to right: Low growing and spreading Geranium 'Dilys', Geranium sanguineum 'Apfelblute', Geranium 'Philipe Vapelle', Geranium wallichianum 'Rosetta'
Geraniums that form mounds and don't creep underground can sit behind shorter plants, in front of taller plants. The flower cover the plant making it lovely for providing colour over a long period.
Other good choices: Geranium ‘Dragon Heart’, Geranium, Geraium ‘Rozanne’
Left to right: Mounding Geranium 'Dilys', Geranium 'Rozanne', Geranium 'Patricia' and Geranium sanugineum 'Album' , Geranium 'Blue Cloud', Geranium x oxonianum 'Patricia Josephine'
While many geraniums form neat mounds or spreading mats, some carry the flowers on upright stems that emerge from a dome of leaves at the base of the plant. Many of these are spring flower, others are perfect for naturalising in wilder spots.
Types: Geranium phaeum, Geranium pratense, Geranium sylvaticum
Other good choices: Geranium phaeum 'Samobor', Geranium sylvaticum 'Mayflower
Left to right: Upright Geranium 'phaeum 'Lily Lovell', Geranium pratense 'Mrs Kendal Clarke', Geranium sylvaticum 'Album' , Geranium sylvaticum 'Baker's Pink'
Where To Grow Hardy Geraniums
All geraniums like a well-drained soil in sun, partial shade or shade. Geranium macrorrhizum types are happy in dryer soils.
Geraniums Are Great for
There is a hardy geranium for every location in the garden from the front to back of the border. For growing under and between other perennials.
How To Care For Geraniums
Cut back after the first flush of flowers has finished to encourage more flowers and fresh foliage, and to discourage seeds that some varieties produce. Cut back again in autumn to tidy up. Divide clumping geraniums every free years to keep them vigorous.
Geraniums Are Great with Everything
Geranium 'Brookside', Campanula punctata rubriflora, Nepeta 'Six Hills Giant', Gillenia trifoliata, Peony 'Adolphe Rousseau'
Geranium 'Nicola' with Sanguisorba 'Red Thunder'
Geranium 'Rozanne' with Persicaria amplexicualis 'Jo and Guido Form'