How To Grow And Care For Geranium Plants

Famous for their use in English gardens and cottage gardens, hardy geraniums are becoming more popular as perennials for many home gardeners in a wide variety of landscape uses. See why Cranesbill Geranium is a great choice for many home flower gardens.

Cultivation Information And How To Grow Hardy Geranium Plants

geranium plants

  • Botanical and Common Name: Garden Geranium is a hardy perennial plant unlike Pelargonium, the common, scented geraniums which are frost-tender perennial plants. Hardy geraniums are often called cranesbill, the most popular common name.
  • Plant Category: Hardy geranium is an herbaceous perennial.
  • Hardiness Zones: Geranium is hardy zones 4-9.
  • Bloom Time & Color: Garden geranium flowers mid-spring through fall and different cultivars bloom in a wide variety of colors include white, pink, lavender, blue, purple and even magenta. Some of the flowers have darker veining in the petals.
  • Foliage: Most hardy geraniums have attractively cut foliage that remains a lovely addition to the garden even when blooming has finished. Moderately to fine cut foliage can be expected by most cultivars and a few even provide fall coloration with red or orange tones.
  • Growth Habit: Garden geranium has a rounded and compact, or upright growth habit and if the plant is over-fertilized it can grow leggy with lots of foliage, and few blooms. Taller varieties may need staking or can be grown around taller, more upright shrubs such as hybrid tea roses or other stiffer-stemmed perennials to provide a natural support.
  • Dimensions: Ground cover geranium plants grow only 12” tall while other cultivars can grow as tall as 3 ½’ tall. This gives gardeners a wide variety of choices when it comes to adding colorful flowers to their gardens.
  • Maintenance: Deadheading your garden geranium will help prolong the flowering season, keep the plant more compact so it won’t sprawl over and prevent reseeding. If a gardener wants to fertilize his geranium he should use a balanced mix in the early spring before flowering begins. Geranium should be divided when clumps become woody with open centers – usually every three years or so.
  • Pests or Diseases: Geranium is not plagued by any major pests or diseases providing the roots aren’t left in standing water.
  • Propagation Methods: Geranium will often reseed itself providing a steady supply of new, young seedlings but the plants are also easily divided for sharing with other gardeners. Stem cuttings can also be rooted to create a new plant as well.

How To Use Geranium Plants In The Garden Landscape


  • Preferred Conditions: Hardy geranium prefers evenly moist soil that is fairly fertile and does best in full sun to part shade gardening conditions. If the soil holds water geranium may suffer from root rot but overly dry soil can cause the plants to wilt.
  • Companion Plants: Use Geranium to mask the leggy growth of some shrubs or plants such as roses, asters, or other upright plants. Geranium is a perfect companion plant blending nicely with most other plants and a wide variety of colored flowers.
  • Seasons of Interest: Garden geranium provides three seasons of interest with spring foliage, summer and fall flowers and, in the case of some cultivars, fall foliage color as well.
  • Uses in the Garden: Use geranium along a fence or walkway; compact cultivars make good ground covers for flower or cottage gardens and taller varieties do well in large containers or the back of mixed flower borders.

Read more: Fall Blooming Anemone – Daisy-Like Perennial Blooms In Autumn Gardens

Geranium Varieties And Cultivars

There are over 400 species of cranesbill geranium plants to choose from but here are some of the most popular and unique for home gardeners.

Clarke’s Geranium or Hardy Alpine Geranium (Geranium clarkei) – Zones 4 or 5-9

These compact, creeping geraniums spread through rhizomes and are often found in Alpine or rock garden situations. Alpine geranium plants will grow 12-18” tall and has deeply lobed leaves with attractive foliage.

  • Kashmir White – Large, white flowers with dark purple veins.

Spotted Cranesbill or Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum) – Zones 3-9

Native to North America, this geranium grows up to 2” tall with pink, rose or light purple flowers and blooms for nearly two months in early summer.

  • Espresso – A variety with dark, chocolate colored leaves making it a great choice for darker foliaged gardens.
  • Elizabeth Ann – Dark colored leaves that turn reddish in color during the fall.
  • Variegatum – As you might guess this cultivar has variegated leaves that create a great backdrop for the bright pink, almost magenta flowers.

Bloody Cranesbill (Geranium sanguineum) – Zones 4-9

The species geranium usually has magenta or bright pink colored flowers and bright red fall foliage giving it the common name of ‘Bloody Cranesbill’. Many fabulous cultivars are available:

  • Album – Beautiful white flowers on attractive, fine cut foliage that often turns red in the fall.
  • Alan Bloom or Bloger – Has a long bloom time allowing gardeners to enjoy the bright pink geranium flowers from late spring through all of summer.
  • John Elsley – A great geranium cultivar that is known to be very hardy with fine cut foliage and large, single flowers.
how to grow geranium plants