Rediscover true geraniums

Never get confused again between geraniums and pelargoniums! Most of the time, we call “geraniums” plants that actually belong to the genus Pelargonium.True geraniums are perennial plants that stay in place from season to season, are hardy and quite easy to care for.

Perennial geraniums form a family that is bursting with energy. Their white, pink, purple or blue flowers are flat or star-shaped and their petals are often marked with a vein of darker color. They appear from May to September and how long the blooming lasts depends on the variety.

Their leaves are very ornamental, often fragrant, and turn to marvelous hues in fall.

Over 300 varieties of geraniums

There are over 300 species of perennial geraniums, and this is without counting the varieties that can appear under each species. Compact perennial geraniums are perfect to cover rocky terrain and line edges in small gardens. They are also ideal for garden boxes.

Creeping, sprawling or covering varieties can be planted for ground cover in forest settings or in a wild garden. Species forming large bunches are marvelous to decorate flower beds. Most species do very well in shade-covered flower beds, and once they’re settled in they require practically no care.

How to succeed

Perennial geraniums abhor heavy soil that is permanently waterlogged. They do like rather compact, rich soil, with manure added in. Drying out of the soil must be avoided in summer.

Species that develop into large plants appreciate any type of fertile soil, as long as it doesn’t retain too much water. Set up smaller geraniums in well-draining, humus-rich soil. In a garden box, plant them in a mix of soil mix and light garden soil with coarse sand.

The right care

Geranium requires in effect very little care. Simply snip off wilted flowers as they shrivel up. If you notice fruits forming, remove those too, to avoid having the geranium spread too fast, as some species are known to spread like wildfire.

At the end of fall, cut deciduous varieties back down to ground level when leaves have dried up. For potted specimens, water once or twice a week during the growth phase. Give your geranium just a little water in winter if the weather is dry. Most true geraniums are hardy down to -4°F (-20° C)!

Marie Etavard

Image credits: Géranium « Patricia » © La Plante du mois