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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.)
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From 6 inches to 3 feet
Up to 2 feet wide
Garden Plans for Geranium
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.
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!
More Varieties of Geranium
'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.