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Perennial Geranium

Geranium sp.

With more than 300 species to choose from, there is bound to be a geranium to fit your garden needs. Coming in a wide range of shapes, colors, and sizes, perennial geraniums are an extremely diverse group of plants. Do you have small nooks and crannies to fill? There's a geranium for that. Looking for a flowering groundcover to spruce up a shady spot? There’s a geranium for that too! No matter your yard's conditions, you are bound to be happy with the choices you have in perennial geraniums. 

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Light:

Part Sun, Shade, Sun

Type:

Height:

From 6 inches to 8 feet

Width:

6 inches to 4 feet

Flower Color:

Foliage Color:

Special Features:

Zones:

3-9

Propagation

Colorful Combinations

In both foliage and flower, geraniums offer a variety of colors to choose from. One of the common names of the perennial geranium, Cranesbill, comes from the seedpods of these plants, which closely resemble the beak of a crane. The blooms of the geranium come in different shades of pinks, purples, and even blues. Along with the many shades, the blooms often have deeper colored veins radiating from the center like hand-painted whiskers.

The many species of geranium available also offer different bloom times, allowing you to have multiple geraniums in bloom throughout the entire growing season. Most commonly, perennial geraniums bloom in early- to late-spring and keep blooming through mid-summer. However, there are a few varieties that are late season bloomers and bloom into fall.

Fabulous Foliage

Many plants bloom and are done. Geraniums, however, can have wonderful foliage. Depending on the species, many have deeply lobed and dissected leaves. Some can come in a wide variety of colors: gold, burgundy, bronze, gray, and green. In the fall, several species also put on a display of fall colors, showing off orange, red, and yellow. This plant is quite the multitasker!

Perennial Geranium Care Must-Knows

Because there are so many different species available in the trade, there is no "one size fits all" care for geraniums. Luckily, perennial geraniums are extremely tough and adaptable plants. As a whole, geraniums can grow happily in full sun to part shade. Many varieties also do fine in more shade, but it may result in fewer blooms. Perennial geraniums also appreciate well-drained soil and won't be happy when they're too wet.

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After they're done blooming, geraniums benefit from a good cutback. Plants that bloom on longer stems can be cut back to the basal foliage growth at the bottom of the plants. This will help encourage a new flush of growth and keep them from looking too messy. It may also give you a smattering of rebloom on some species.

The only real problem that you might see with perennial geraniums is powdery mildew. This is a fungus that grows on the leaves—it looks like a fine, white powder. Powdery mildew is fairly harmless, but if left alone for too long, it can slow your plants down and look unsightly. The best way to take care of this is to make sure that your plants have good air circulation. Also keep leaves as dry as possible and avoid overhead watering to prevent the mildew from spreading to nearby plants. If you continue to see this each year on the same plant, try moving it to a more sunny spot. Clean up any leaf debris around plants once they die back.

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More Varieties of Perennial Geranium

'Ann Folkard' Geranium

Geranium 'Ann Folkard' has yellowish-green foliage on 2-foot-long scrambling stems that weave among other plants. In midsummer into fall, bright magenta flowers punctuated with black veins and eyes bloom freely. Zones 5-9

Bigroot Geranium

Geranium macrorrhizum makes a fine groundcover and tolerates dry, light shade. The aromatic 6-inch-wide leaves take on splendid fall color. Bright magenta flowers appear in spring; several less strident cultivars are available. Zones 4-8

Bloody Geranium

Geranium sanguineum makes 1-foot-tall mounds of foliage that becomes golden in fall. Vibrant magenta flowers cover the plants in late spring. It tolerates hot weather well. Zones 3-8

'Brookside' Geranium

Like an improved 'Johnson's Blue', geranium 'Brookside' provides loads of blue flowers almost all season long, on much tidier plants. Zones 5-7

'Johnson's Blue' Geranium

Geranium 'Johnson's Blue' is a long-blooming variety with 2-inch bright blue flowers. It grows to 18 inches tall. Zones 4-8

Madeira Cranesbill

Geranium maderense, crowned with 4-inch-wide flowers, is a showstopper. Its massive leaves are spectacular, too. Zones 9-11

Mourning Widow Geranium

Geranium phaeum bears nodding dark purple blooms in late spring over attractive hand-shape foliage. Zones 4-8

'Rozanne' Geranium

Geranium 'Rozanne' blooms June to frost with silvery mottled foliage on spreading plants that can grow 3 feet wide. Zones 5-9

Striped Bloody Geranium

Geranium sanguineum var. striatum is a long-blooming selection that grows only 4 inches or so in height. In spring it's covered with pale pink flowers striped with darker veins. Zones 3-8

Plant Perennial Geranium With:

Astilbe
Astilbe brings a graceful feathery note to moist, shady landscapes. In cooler climates in the northern third or so of the country, it can tolerate full sun provided it has a constant supply of moisture. In drier sites, however, the leaves will scorch in full sun. Feathery plumes of white, pink, lavender, or red flowers rise above the finely divided foliage from early to late summer depending on the variety. It will spread slowly over time where well-situated. Most commercially available types are complex hybrids.
Daylily
Daylilies are so easy to grow you'll often find them in ditches and fields—escapees from gardens. And yet they look so delicate, producing glorious trumpet-shape blooms in myriad colors. In fact, there are some 50,000 named hybrid cultivars in a range of flower sizes (the minis are very popular), forms, and plant heights. Some are fragrant. The flowers are borne on leafless stems. Although each bloom lasts but a single day, superior cultivars carry numerous buds on each scape so bloom time is long, especially if you deadhead daily. The strappy foliage may be evergreen or deciduous. Shown above: 'Little Grapette' daylily
Iris
Named for the Greek goddess of the rainbow, iris indeed comes in a rainbow of colors and in many heights. All have classic, impossibly intricate flowers. The flowers are constructed with three upright "standard" petals and three drooping "fall" petals, which are often different colors. The falls may be "bearded" or not. Some cultivars bloom a second time in late summer. Some species prefer alkaline soil while others prefer acidic soil. Shown above: Immortality iris
Veronica
Easy and undemanding, veronicas catch the eye in sunny gardens over many months. Some have mats with loose clusters of saucer-shaped flowers, while others group their star or tubular flowers into erect tight spikes. A few veronicas bring elusive blue to the garden, but more often the flowers are purplish or violet blue, rosy pink, or white. Provide full sun and average well-drained soil. Regular deadheading extends bloom time.
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