Geraniums On The Cranium
Some of my favorite perennial flowers are Geraniums. When I say Geranium, I mean members of the genus Geranium that also go by the common names Cranesbill or Hardy Geranium.
I don’t mean the red flowering annuals that grow in pots. Those are really members of the genus Pelargonium, but are commonly called Zonal Geraniums, Scented Geraniums, or Ivy Geraniums (actually, these names apply to three different species of Pelargonium). But you probably knew that already.
There are many, many different species, hybrids, and cultivars of Geranium. However, they tend to have certain traits in common. They have a low, mounded habit. They have five petaled flowers that bloom in blue, pink, or white. They have hand-shaped leaves, often deeply lobed. And they tend to be easy care plants.
I have four different Geraniums in my garden.
Geranium himalayense ‘Johnson’s Blue’. For me, this is the Old Faithful of Geraniums. Forms a loose mound about 12-18″ tall with profuse blue flowers in May and June. Can get rather sprawling, but that is part of its charm. Flowers are sterile. Will grow in sun or shade. People talk about the new hybrid ‘Rozanne’ as superior to ‘Johnson’s Blue’, but I have not found that to be the case.
Geranium maculatum, Wild Geranium. This is the North American native Geranium. Flowers are usually lavender, or white if you get the variety ‘alba’. Definitely not sterile, it will start popping up around your garden, but new plants are easy to remove or transplant. Leaves may whither during a hot summer, but just cut it back and fresh foliage will emerge. A good native spring flower for shady gardens.
Geranium renardii ‘Tschelda’. This Geranium is well adapted to sunny, drier spots. The flowers are blue with darker veining, and the leaves have a felt-like texture. Shorter at about 1′. I planted these for the first time last fall, so far they are doing well this year.
Geranium ‘Biokovo’. White flowers with pink centers. About 12″ tall and 18″ wide. Very adaptable – sun or shade, dry or moist soil (but not too moist). Foliage turns red in the fall.
I use these Geraniums mainly for edging and as ground covers, and they generally perform well.
Do you have Hardy Geraniums in your garden?