Perennial geraniums, scientifically classified under the genus Geranium, are a
captivating and versatile group of flowering plants that have earned a special place in the hearts
of garden enthusiasts.
Belonging to the Geraniaceae family, these plants are known for their resilient nature, prolific
blooms, and diverse uses in landscaping.
In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of perennial geraniums, exploring their
scientific classification, optimal growing conditions, and the manifold ways in which these plants
can be utilized to enhance the beauty and functionality of gardens.
Whether you are a seasoned gardener seeking to expand your repertoire or a novice looking to
cultivate an attractive and low-maintenance garden, understanding the intricacies of growing and
caring for perennial geraniums will prove invaluable.
From the intriguing details of their scientific taxonomy to the practical aspects of soil, sunlight, and
maintenance, this guide aims to provide a holistic overview that empowers gardeners to nurture
thriving and vibrant displays of perennial geraniums.
Perennial geraniums belong to the Plantae kingdom, encompassing a vast array of multicellular,
eukaryotic organisms that perform photosynthesis.
Within the kingdom Plantae, perennial geraniums fall under the division Magnoliophyta,
commonly referred to as angiosperms or flowering plants.
This division includes the majority of plant species on Earth, characterized by the presence of
flowers and seeds enclosed in fruits.
The class Magnoliopsida comprises dicotyledonous plants, a group that includes many familiar
and economically important flowering plants.
Perennial geraniums share this class with a diverse range of species, such as roses and sunflowers.
Perennial geraniums are classified under the order Geraniales, a botanical order that includes
other notable plant families like Geraniaceae, which encompasses the geraniums.
This order is characterized by a variety of herbaceous plants, shrubs, and some trees.
The Geraniaceae family is home to perennial geraniums, commonly known as
This family is distinguished by its lobed or divided leaves and five-petaled flowers.
Geraniaceae also includes other genera such as Pelargonium, which comprises popular
ornamental plants like the common geranium.
The genus Geranium encompasses the true geraniums, including the perennial varieties discussed
in this guide.
Recognized for their distinctive palmately lobed leaves and symmetrical flowers, the genus
Geranium is widespread and diverse, with species adapted to various climates and growing
Understanding the scientific classification of perennial geraniums not only provides insights into
their botanical origins but also aids gardeners in tailoring their care based on the characteristics
shared with other plants within the same taxonomic groups.
This foundational knowledge lays the groundwork for cultivating healthy and thriving perennial
geraniums in a garden setting.
Varieties of Perennial Geraniums
Perennial geraniums offer a rich tapestry of varieties, each possessing unique features that
contribute to the diversity and visual appeal of gardens.
Whether you seek vibrant blooms, attractive foliage, or specific growth habits, there is a perennial
geranium variety to suit every gardener’s preferences.
Here are some common varieties:
Geranium macrorrhizum (Bigroot Geranium):
Known for its aromatic, deeply lobed leaves and pink to lavender flowers.
Spreading habit, making it an excellent ground cover.
Well-suited for edging, rock gardens, and areas with partial shade.
Geranium sanguineum (Bloody Cranesbill):
Distinctive magenta to purplish-pink flowers with deeply dissected leaves.
Forms compact mounds and thrives in full sun to partial shade.
Borders, rock gardens, and containers.
Geranium Rozanne (Rozanne Cranesbill):
Large, violet-blue flowers with a white center and deeply cut foliage.
Spreads vigorously and blooms continuously throughout the season.
Hanging baskets, containers, or as a ground cover.
Geranium Johnson’s Blue (Johnson’s Blue Cranesbill):
Intense blue flowers with a white eye and deeply lobed leaves.
Forms compact clumps and prefers full sun to light shade.
Borders, cottage gardens, and mixed perennial beds.
Geranium phaeum (Dusky Cranesbill):
Unique, nodding flowers in shades of purple, maroon, or black.
Tolerates shade and forms upright clumps with finely divided foliage.
Woodland gardens, shaded borders, and under trees.
Selecting the right variety depends on factors such as climate, soil conditions, and desired
Gardeners can mix and match these varieties to create visually appealing landscapes that offer a
continuous display of colors and textures throughout the growing season.
Whether used as ground covers, border plants, or container specimens, perennial geraniums
provide versatility and charm to any garden setting.
Creating an optimal environment for perennial geraniums is crucial to ensure their health,
longevity, and prolific blooming.
These plants, with their diverse varieties, are generally adaptable, but certain growing conditions
enhance their overall performance.
Here are key factors to consider:
Perennial geraniums thrive in partial to full sunlight.
Provide at least 4-6 hours of direct sunlight daily for optimal flowering.
In warmer climates, some varieties appreciate partial shade during the hottest part of the day.
Choose well-draining soil to prevent waterlogging, as geraniums are susceptible to root rot.
A slightly acidic to neutral pH (around 6.0 to 7.5) is ideal for most varieties.
Incorporate organic matter into the soil to improve its fertility and texture.
Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged.
Water deeply, allowing the soil to dry slightly between watering sessions.
Watering in the morning helps prevent fungal diseases by allowing foliage to dry before evening.
Perennial geraniums are generally hardy and can tolerate a range of temperatures.
Most varieties are well-suited for USDA Hardiness Zones 4-8, but this can vary by
Protect plants from extreme heat or cold, especially during their establishment period.
Space plants according to their mature size, ensure adequate air circulation.
Plant at the same depth as they were in their nursery containers.
Mulch around the base to conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature.
Adhering to these growing conditions sets the stage for healthy and vigorous perennial geraniums.
Regular monitoring of the soil moisture, adapting watering schedules to local climate conditions,
and providing appropriate sunlight contribute to the overall success of these plants in a garden
As adaptable as they are, perennial geraniums reward gardeners with an abundance of blooms
when their fundamental growing needs are met.
Care and Maintenance
Successfully cultivating perennial geraniums involves ongoing care and maintenance practices
to ensure their continued health, appearance, and prolific flowering.
Following these guidelines will help you foster a thriving and vibrant display in your
Trim spent flowers regularly to encourage continuous blooming.
Cut back the entire plant by one-third to one-half in midsummer to promote a fresh flush of growth
Remove any dead or yellowing leaves to maintain a neat appearance.
Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in the spring as new growth emerges.
Avoid over-fertilizing, as excessive nutrients can lead to leggy growth and reduced
Monitor the plant’s response to fertilization and adjust accordingly.
Apply a layer of organic mulch, such as compost or bark, around the base of the
Mulching helps retain soil moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature.
Refresh the mulch layer as needed, particularly in the spring.
Divide overcrowded clumps every three to four years to rejuvenate the plants.
Lift the entire clump, divide it into smaller sections, and replant the divisions.
The division promotes better airflow, prevents overcrowding, and stimulates healthier growth.
Pests and Diseases:
Monitor for common pests such as aphids, caterpillars, and spider mites.
Treat pest infestations promptly using insecticidal soap or neem oil.
Perennial geraniums are generally resistant to diseases but remove any diseased foliage promptly
to prevent spread.
Cut back the foliage in late fall after the first frost.
Apply a layer of mulch around the base to protect the roots from extreme cold.
In areas with harsh winters, consider providing additional protection with a layer of straw or leaves.
By incorporating these care and maintenance practices into your routine, you can keep your
perennial geraniums healthy, robust, and visually appealing throughout the growing season.
Regular attention to pruning, fertilizing, and pest management ensures that these resilient plants
continue to grace your garden with their charming blooms year after year.
Uses of Perennial Geraniums
Perennial geraniums, with their captivating beauty and adaptability, offer a range of uses that
make them invaluable additions to diverse garden settings.
From enhancing the aesthetics of ornamental gardens to contributing to medicinal
practices, these plants serve various purposes:
Flower Beds and Borders:
Perennial geraniums add vibrant colors and intricate foliage, creating eye-catching displays in
flower beds and borders.
Mixed Perennial Gardens:
Combine different varieties to create dynamic and visually appealing perennial garden landscapes.
Their charming and informal growth habits make perennial geraniums well-suited for cottage-
Low-growing varieties like Geranium macrorrhizum act as effective ground covers, suppressing
weeds and creating a lush carpet of foliage.
Their spreading growth habit helps control soil erosion on slopes and banks.
Pots and Hanging Baskets:
Compact geranium varieties thrive in containers, bringing a burst of color to patios,
balconies, and other confined spaces.
Ideal for small-space gardening, perennial geraniums can thrive in containers on balconies and
The nectar-rich flowers of perennial geraniums attract bees, butterflies, and other pollinators,
contributing to the overall health of the garden ecosystem.
Planting geraniums supports bee populations, aiding in the pollination of surrounding plants.
Traditional Herbal Remedies:
Some varieties of geraniums have been used in traditional herbal medicine for their potential anti-
inflammatory and astringent properties.
Include geraniums in herb gardens, exploring their historical medicinal uses and ornamental value.
Edging and Pathways:
Use low-growing varieties to edge flower beds, pathways, and garden borders, providing a defined
and tidy appearance.
Create a soft and welcoming atmosphere by planting geraniums along garden pathways.
Perennial geraniums showcase their versatility by seamlessly integrating into various garden
designs and serving multiple functional roles.
Whether as focal points in ornamental gardens or as ground covers for practical purposes, these
resilient plants continue to captivate and contribute to the overall beauty and functionality of
In conclusion, the cultivation of perennial geraniums offers a delightful journey for gardeners
seeking versatile, resilient, and aesthetically pleasing plants.
From the detailed exploration of their scientific classification to the practical considerations of
growing conditions and maintenance, this comprehensive guide provides the necessary insights
to nurture thriving geranium displays.
The diverse varieties of perennial geraniums, each with its unique charm and characteristics,
allow gardeners to tailor their choices to specific preferences and garden designs.
Whether you aspire to create colorful borders, lush ground covers, or container displays, the
adaptability of geraniums ensures success in various garden settings.
Moreover, the uses of perennial geraniums extend beyond mere ornamentation.
Their role in attracting pollinators, serving medicinal purposes in traditional herbal remedies,
and providing practical solutions such as ground cover and erosion control underscore their
significance in the garden ecosystem.
As you embark on the journey of growing and caring for perennial geraniums, remember to pay
attention to their specific needs, providing adequate sunlight, well-draining soil, and proper care.
Regular pruning, fertilizing, and pest management practices will ensure a continuous display of
vibrant blooms and healthy foliage.
In essence, perennial geraniums epitomize the harmony between beauty and functionality in
Their resilience, adaptability, and manifold uses make them not only a staple in gardens but also
a source of joy for garden enthusiasts of all levels.
With the knowledge and guidelines provided in this guide, may your experience with perennial
geraniums be a rewarding and fulfilling endeavor, adding both color and character to your
Frequently Asked Questions
Do perennial geraniums like sun or shade?
Perennial geraniums typically do not demand fertilizer unless the soil is deficient.
Nevertheless, they benefit from an annual application of a well-balanced granular formulation,
like a 10-10-10 product, administered in early spring before the plant begins blooming.
Alternatively, a 2-inch layer of compost serves as a suitable substitute for a
commercially purchased fertilizer.
Can perennial geraniums grow in pots?
Indeed, placing perennial geraniums in pots might yield better results in warmer
regions like the Mid and Lower South.
This is attributed to the fact that maintaining them in containers exposes the root zone to the
essential winter chill hours required for optimal performance.
Do geraniums like eggshells?
The majority of flowers and many succulents can reap the advantages of eggshells,
but it’s crucial not to overwater the succulents.
Curious about which plants aren’t fond of eggshells? It’s advisable to refrain from using them on
species that naturally thrive in more acidic soil, such as azaleas and geraniums.
What is the best homemade fertilizer for geraniums?
Unused coffee grounds can be evenly distributed over the compost.
Roses, geraniums, angel trumpets, oleanders, hydrangeas, rhododendrons, and
azaleas exhibit especially positive responses to coffee grounds when used as a
What keeps eating my geraniums?
Geraniums are susceptible to insect attacks from pests such as aphids, cabbage loopers, and fall
Damage can also be caused by the four-lined plant bug, scale, and slugs.
It is essential to accurately identify the specific insect pest and employ the recommended
insecticide for effective control.
Despite these potential challenges, geraniums remain one of the most favored annual plants
among gardeners today.