Perennial Geranium

Perennial Geranium
Plant Type
Sunlight Amount
'Rozanne' Geranium by path
Credit: Justin Hancock
'Rozanne' Geranium by path

Perennial Geranium

Coming in a huge range of shapes, colors, and sizes, perennial geraniums make beautiful garden plants. However, don't confuse them with annual geraniums, which aren't even related (those are actually in the genus Pelargonium). There are over 300 species and varieties of perennial geraniums, so it's easy to find one to suit your needs. 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're bound to find a perennial geranium that will work. 

genus name
  • Geranium sp.
  • Part Sun
  • Shade
  • Sun
plant type
  • 6 to 12 inches
  • 1 to 3 feet
  • 3 to 8 feet
  • 6 inches to 4 feet
flower color
foliage color
season features
problem solvers
special features
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9

Colorful Combinations

In both foliage and flower, perennial geraniums offer a variety of colors to choose from. One of its common names, cranesbill, comes from the seedpods of these plants, which resemble the beak of a crane. The blooms come in different shades of pink, purple, and even blue. A few offer starry white flowers, too. Along with the many shades, the blooms often have deeper colored veins radiating from the center like hand-painted whiskers. Perennial geraniums bloom in early- to late spring and keep blooming through mid-summer. However, there are a few varieties that bloom into fall.

Many perennials are mostly grown for their blooms because their foliage doesn't offer much interest. Geraniums, however, can have very pretty foliage. Depending on the species, many have deeply lobed and dissected leaves. Some come colors such as gold, burgundy, bronze, gray, and green. Toward the end of the growing season, several species also put on a display of fall colors, showing off orange, red, and yellow.

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 then may have fewer flowers. Perennial geraniums also appreciate well-drained soil and will sulk if they stay too wet.

After they're done blooming, geraniums benefit from being sheared back. Plants that bloom on longer stems can be cut down 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, looking like a fine, white powder. Powdery mildew is fairly harmless, but it can slow your plants down and look unsightly. The best way to take care of this problem is to make sure that your geraniums have good air circulation so don't crowd them in with other plants. Also keep leaves as dry as possible and avoid overhead watering to prevent the mildew from spreading. 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 in fall.

More Varieties of Perennial Geranium

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bloody cranesbill pink flowers
Credit: Jeff McNamara

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

bigroot geranium flowers perennial Geranium macrorrhizum
Credit: David Speer

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

Madeira Cranesbill
Credit: Denny Schrock

Madeira Cranesbill

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

Perennial Geranium 'Johnson's Blue'
Credit: Nancy Rotenberg

'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

Pink 'Ann Folkard' Geranium
Credit: Peter Symcox

'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

purple Geranium 'Brookside'
Credit: Nancy Rotenberg

'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

striped bloody geranium
Credit: Clint Farlinger

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

'Rozanne' Geranium by path
Credit: Justin Hancock

'Rozanne' Geranium

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

Mourning Widow Geranium
Credit: Peter Symcox

Mourning Widow Geranium

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

Perennial Geranium Companion Plants

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