Hardy geraniums (not to to confuse with Perlagoniums, annual geraniums) provide an easy care, colorful, reliable ground cover or filler in the sunny to partially shaded garden.
They occur worldwide in temperate regions with representatives growing in Europe, North America, New Zealand and much of Asia. Geraniums are winter hardy (perennial) and can be used in a variety of gardening conditions from rock gardens to shady woodland gardens. Members of the family Geraniaceae, along with Erodium, commonly known as storksbill.
Geraniums are referred to as “cranesbills” because the plant’s fruit resembles a crane’s bill. The genus geranium has four hundred species and countless cultivars. However, not all geranium species are suitable for the garden as some are not hardy enough to survive winters outdoors in northern climates, while others are very weedy in nature.
Geraniums are known for the breadth of conditions they can tolerate, from full sun to dry shade, as well as the ease with which they can be grown. They are a favorite with bees and butterflies. Flower colors ranging from white, blue, purple and a multitude of pinks. In addition, many of the flowers have interesting variegation, veining and spotting.
Leaf colors range from green, green with dark markings, green with yellow markings, as well as brown. Geraniums can be fun and easy for any kind of gardener and garden condition. They can liven up a rock garden or add texture and color to a romantic rose garden. In addition, many work well in dappled shade conditions underneath deciduous trees. They combine beautifully with shasta daisies, peonies and iris.
Some of our favorite species and varieties commonly found at Portland Nursery are discussed below.
Geranium cinereum 'Ballerina'
Lavender pink blooms with vivid magenta veins May to September.
Grows 6" tall by 12" wide.
Thrives in full to part sun with good drainage.
Drought tolerant when established.
Perfect for containers and rock gardens.
Geranium x cantabriginiense 'Biokovo'
Semi-evergreen with blush white flowers May to July.
Grows 8" tall by 18" wide in full to part sun.
Evergreen aromatic foliage
Flowers come in shades of white or pink April to August.
Extremely versatile, tolerating full sun, part shade to shade.
Grows 12-24" tall by 15" wide (more with age).
Geranium phaeum 'Samobor'
Stunning foliage with maroon markings
Dusky mauve flowers June to August.
Grows 24" tall and wide, and may reseed.
Geranium pratense 'Hocus Pocus'
Dark burgundy, finely cut foliage
Violet purple flowers June to August.
Grows 12-16" tall and wide.
Full to part sun
Geranium ‘Johnson’s Blue’
Large violet blue flowers June to September.
Grows 18-24" tall by 24-30" wide.
Full to part sun
Geranium ‘Ann Folkard’
Stunning chartreuse foliage contrasts with rich magenta flowers May to August.
Unique vining habit growing 1-2' tall by 2-3' wide.
Grows in full to part sun.
One of the most popular varieties with large deep blue flowers May to November.
Grows 1-2' tall by 2-4' wide.
Full to part sun.
Beautiful planted in mass.
Geranium ‘Philippe Vapelle’
Blue flowers with violet veins May to June.
Unique lobed, quilted leaves.
Grows 12-18" tall and wide.
Full to part sun.
Facts: Hardy Geranium
Origin: Geraniums occur worldwide, mostly in temperate regions with representatives growing in Europe, North America, New Zealand and much of Asia.
Culture: Geraniums are equally happy in light, acidic, sandy soil, in clay or alkaline conditions. Geraniums are easy to grow and tough. They can tolerate a variety of conditions from full sun to deep shade.
Further, some prefer drier rock garden conditions, while others prefer more moist woodland conditions. There are, therefore, geraniums suitable for every type of gardening condition.
Pests and Diseases: Some varieties may suffer from mildew but this can be dealt with by cutting them back after bloom.
Maintenance: Care of geraniums is minimal. Organic matter such as compost is all that is needed for fertilizing. Also, the tallest plants can be cut back after flowering to prevent them from going to seed and looking tired.
Propagation: Many varieties of geranium can be propagated from seed and division.