February 18, 2016


A truly classic garden plant, geraniums have been a gardener's favorite for well over a century. The old-fashioned standard for beds, borders, and containers, geranium is still one of the most popular plants today. Traditional bedding types love hot weather and hold up well to dry conditions; many offer colorful foliage. Regal, also called Martha Washington, geraniums are more delicate-looking and do better in the cool conditions of spring and fall.

Though most geraniums are grown as annuals, they are perennials in Zones 10–11. Bring them indoors to overwinter, if you like, then replant outdoors in spring. (Or they can bloom indoors all year long if they get enough light.)

genus name
  • Pelargonium
  • Sun
plant type
  • 6 to 12 inches,
  • 1 to 3 feet
  • Up to 2 feet wide
flower color
problem solvers
  • 10,
  • 11

Garden Plans For Geranium

Colorful Combinations

This garden staple has a little secret: It's not even a geranium! What we know as the common annual geranium is actually a Pelargonium. The annual geranium offers so many great qualities that we can't help but use it every year.

With their wide range of color, shape, and size of blooms, it's hard not to find a reason to use geraniums everywhere. The most common of the annual variety, Zonal Geraniums, is the most recognizable geranium; it gets its name from the broad band of darker coloring on leaves. In some, this "zone" is more pronounced than others. If you don't see this banding on the leaves but the flowers look like a zonal geranium, it could be either a variety where this coloring is not present or a seed geranium (the latter of which is a more inexpensive version of its zonal counterpart).

Zonal geraniums are grown from cuttings only, and have been heavily bred for traits like bigger and longer-lasting blooms, sterility (so that the plants don't waste energy on making seeds), and overall vigor and disease resistance. Zonal geraniums also thrive in the heat and sun of the summer and will bloom all season, if you remove old blooms.

Ivy geraniums are another popular variety and, as their name implies, these plants have more of a trailing habit with segmented leaves like ivy. Overall, blooms of the ivy types are very similar to the zonals, but with smaller bloom clusters and deeper purple flowers.

Regal geraniums, another popular plant variety, are grown for their large, extremely showy blooms. These fancy flowers come in many colors and have beautiful patterns you don't see in other types of geraniums.

See more houseplants for the forgetful gardener.

Geranium Care Must-Knows

The most important thing to know about some geraniums, such as the ivy variety, is that they can suffer from a condition called edema. This is most often seen in ivy type geraniums on the underside of the leaves. When soil temperatures are warm and wet and air temperature is cooler and humid, plants take up more water than they can hold, which causes the leaf cells to stretch and become damaged with scabs that turn brown and bumpy. This isn't contagious, and damaged leaves can simply be removed. Ivy geraniums take heat well, but not quite as well as their zonal counterparts. If it is exceptionally hot, ivy geraniums will thank you for a little bit of afternoon shade.

Regal types are probably some of the pickiest geraniums. They prefer a cooler growing season and will stop blooming in high summer heat. Make sure they have well-drained soil, and keep them cool when the steamy temps arrive. Here's how to fix a common geranium problem.

No matter which geranium you select for your next container, just make sure to keep up with deadheading. And don't forget to feed them!

Houseplants That Work Great in Bedrooms

More Varieties of Geranium

'Allure Light Pink' Geranium

Pelargonium 'Allure Light Pink' bears pink flowers with a brighter pink blotch on vigorous plants that grow 18 inches tall.

'Allure Pink Picotee' Geranium

Pelargonium 'Allure Pink Picotee' produces huge, hydrangea-like clusters of pale pink blooms edged in darker pink. It grows 18 inches tall.

'Americana Bright Red' Geranium

Pelargonium 'Americana Bright Red' is a heat-loving geranium with large, rich-red flower heads. It grows 18 inches tall.

'Aurora' Geranium

Pelargonium 'Aurora' is a heat-loving variety with large heads of bright magenta-pink flowers on 12-inch-tall plants.

'Caliente Hot Coral' Geranium

Pelargonium 'Caliente Hot Coral' produces bold coral-pink blooms and exceptional heat tolerance. It has an upright, mounding habit, and you don't need to deadhead the flowers. It grows 12 inches tall.

'Calliope Dark Red' Geranium

Pelargonium 'Calliope Dark Red' is a hybrid between ivy-leaved and zonal geraniums. It bears rich, dark red flowers and has a mounding/trailing habit. It grows 12 inches tall.

'Candy Cherry' Geranium

Pelargonium 'Candy Cherry' offers lots of bright cherry-pink flowers over rich, dark-green foliage. It grows 14 inches tall.

'Candy Fantasy Kiss' Geranium

Pelargonium 'Candy Fantasy Kiss' shows off rich pink flowers with a lovely soft pink edge. It has dark green foliage and grows 14 inches tall.

'Daredevil Claret' Geranium

Pelargonium 'Daredevil Claret' is a vigorous selection with dark red flowers all summer. It grows 24 inches tall and 14 inches wide.

'Daredevil Orchid' Geranium

Pelargonium 'Daredevil Orchid' shows off brilliantly colored clusters of lavender flowers all summer long. It grows 24 inches tall and 14 inches wide.

'Designer Red' Geranium

Pelargonium 'Designer Red' is a heat-loving geranium that offers rich red flowers on compact, 14-inch-tall plants.

'Easter Greeting' Regal Geranium

Pelargonium 'Easter Greeting' is a cool-season regal type with cerise-pink flowers that have dark purple blotches. The plants grow 12 inches tall.

'Elegance Burgundy' Regal Geranium

Pelargonium 'Elegance Burgundy' is a cool-season variety that blooms in spring with rich burgundy flowers that look like they're made from crepe paper. It grows 12 inches tall.

'Elegance Imperial' Regal Geranium

Pelargonium 'Elegance Imperial' is a spring bloomer offering rich burgundy-purple flowers boldly edged in white. It grows 12 inches tall.

'Elegance Royalty White' Regal Geranium

Pelargonium 'Elegance Royalty White' is a cool-season variety displaying white flowers brushed with bright pink. It grows 12 inches tall.

'Fantasia White' Geranium

Pelargonium 'Fantasia White' offers pure white blooms on a heat-loving plant that grows 14 inches tall.

'Global Merlot' Ivy Geranium

Pelargonium 'Global Merlot' bears rich wine-red flowers on a heat-loving plant that trails to 14 inches.

'Graffiti Salmon' Geranium

Pelargonium 'Graffiti Salmon' is a heat-loving selection with spidery salmon-pink flowers on a plant that grows 14 inches tall.

'Graffiti White' Geranium

Pelargonium 'Graffiti White' is a heat-loving selection with spidery white flowers on a plant that grows 14 inches tall.

'Indian Dunes' Geranium

Pelargonium 'Indian Dunes' offers attractive chartreuse foliage with a large bronze-purple blotch in the center of each leaf. It produces orange-red flowers and grows 10 inches tall.

'Maestro Rose Pink' Geranium

Pelargonium 'Maestro Rose Pink' offers large soft pink blooms touched with rose on a medium-size plant with good heat tolerance. It grows 12 inches tall.

'Maiden Iced Wine' Regal Geranium

Pelargonium 'Maiden Iced Wine' is a cool-season variety with a compact habit and dark red flowers delicately edged in white. It grows 10 inches tall.

'Mini Cascade Pink' Ivy Geranium

Pelargonium 'Mini Cascade Pink' is a heat-loving variety with soft pink flowers that can trail to 14 inches.

'Mini Cascade Red' Ivy Geranium

Pelargonium 'Mini Cascade Red' is a heat-loving geranium with red flowers that can trail to 14 inches.

'Mini Karmine' Geranium

Pelargonium 'Mini Karmine' looks its best in hanging baskets or window boxes where you can enjoy it as the plant trails over the edges. It features bright magenta flowers and finely cut foliage.

'Moonlight Cranberry Blush' Geranium

Pelargonium 'Moonlight Cranberry Blush' features intensely pink flowers with a compact habit and lots of blooms throughout the summer. It grows 12 inches tall.

'Mr. Henry Cox' Geranium

Pelargonium 'Mr. Henry Cox' is a heat-loving type with variegated foliage and single pink flowers on plants that grow 12 inches tall.

'Patriot Lavender Blue' Geranium

Pelargonium 'Patriot Lavender Blue' is a quick-growing variety with large lavender-pink flowers. It grows 16 inches tall.

'Patriot Berry Parfait' Geranium

Pelargonium 'Patriot Berry Parfait' is a vigorous variety with large, cherry-red flowers. It grows 16 inches tall.

'Pink Spirit' Ivy Geranium

Pelargonium 'Pink Spirit' is a heat-loving geranium with double pink flowers that can trail to 16 inches.

'Royal Candy Pink' Ivy Geranium

Pelargonium 'Royal Candy Pink' is a trailing, heat-tolerant geranium with an abundance of rich pink flowers. It trails to 14 inches.

'Royal Lavender' Ivy Geranium

Pelargonium 'Royal Lavender' is a trailing, heat-tolerant geranium with soft, lavender-pink flowers all summer. It trails to 14 inches.

'Vancouver Centennial' Geranium

Pelargonium 'Vancouver Centennial' is a heat-loving geranium with golden foliage that bears a purple-brown blotch. It grows to 18 inches tall.

'Wilhelm Langguth' Geranium

Pelargonium 'Wilhelm Langguth' shows off attractive white-edged foliage and bright red flowers. It grows 2 feet tall.

Plant Geranium With:

Many types of nicotiana are terrifically fragrant (especially at night) and are wonderful in attracting hummingbirds as well as fascinating hummingbird moths. There are several types of nicotiana, also called flowering tobacco, because it's a cousin of the regular tobacco plant. Try the shorter, more colorful types in containers or the front of beds or borders. The taller, white-only types, which can reach 5 feet, are dramatic in the back of borders. And they're ideal for night gardens; they're usually most fragrant at dusk. These plants do best in full sun and moist, well-drained soil, and they may reseed.

Pentas is one of the best butterfly-attracting plants around. It blooms all summer long, even during the hottest weather, with large clusters of starry blooms that attract butterflies by the dozens as well as hummingbirds. The plant grows well in containers and in the ground—and it can even make a good houseplant if you have enough light. It does best in full sun and moist, well-drained soil. Pentas is grown as an annual in most parts of the country, but it's hardy in Zones 10-11. Plant it outdoors after all danger of frost has passed.

Like so many grasses, fountaingrass is spectacular when backlit by the rising or setting sun. Named for its especially graceful spray of foliage, fountaingrass sends out beautiful, fuzzy flower plumes in late summer. The white, pink, or red plumes (depending on variety) continue into fall and bring a loose, informal look to plantings. This plant self-seeds freely, sometimes to the point of becoming invasive.

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