Growing the perennial hardy Geranium, not to be confused with the all-to-common annual ‘Pelargonium’ Geranium, has been a special joy in my life. My addiction has quite overtaken my garden and I have drifts of every variety of Geranium I can find happily leaning over walkways and smiling from every corner. Here you see a single charming bloom in the midst of Lamb’s Ears.
What makes a hardy Geranium so delightful is its ability to continue flowering most of the season while offering drifts of foliage which is attractive and mounding. Although it does prefer being consistently moist, once established, one rarely has to water. Geranium’s usually prefer part-sun and can survive in all types of soil conditions.
Most Geraniums come in pink and blue varieties and flower most prolifically in May and June with on-going spurts of growth through the season if the flowers are sheared back. The photo below shows two of my front gardens in late May. The tremendous pink flush of flowers mirrored at the top right of the photo is Geranium ‘Biokovo Karmina’ which I purchased from Bluestone Perennials four years ago because of its ability to survive in direct full sun. It is a shorter Geranium variety, which lends itself to edging and is always the first Geranium to bloom. It’s quaint foliage turns a striking red color in the fall.
Just beginning to bloom in the bottom right hand side of the photo is Geranium ‘Johnson’s Blue’ which has tremendous foliage. This is such a prolific bloomer, it grows to be nearly four foot tall by the end of the season with an explosion of non-stop lavender flowers all the way through September. I have to cut back this variety severely or it will completely overtake my sidewalk with blooms.
Hardy Geraniums are often referred to as “Cranesbill Geraniums,” because their seed pods resemble a crane’s bill. Because most Geranium foliage is marvelous throughout the season as well, the plant family makes a fantastic filler and blender for perennial beds. Once a plant becomes established, it will soon be dropping seed. At first I plucked these upstarts out as if they were the ever-horrid weed. It is wiser, in my experienced opinion, to take a more adoptive attitude in relationship to seedlings. They come up in the most surprising places – here in the middle of my flagstone walkway – and are easy to transplant or move should they become intrusive. I have left this little fella right where it landed and am curious to see if he survived the harsh winter. In the fall I recommend that you leave Geraniums as is with no clean up because they often reseed more readily if left alone. Spring brings lots of surprises.
There are a growing number of hybrid geraniums on the market, the most popular seems to be Geranium ‘Rozanne’ which was introduced by Blooms of Bressingham. This plant blooms most of the summer and is as hardy as they come. The 2008 Perennial of the Year – it is a fantastic addition to the garden. Last year I discovered an equally hardy Geranium known as ‘Jolly Bee’ and have been amazed at both these plants strength during the hot summer season of late August and early September. Both of these prolifically flowering varieties lean towards a shade of blue, however, in my garden Rozanne is a true blue tone, while Jolly Bee is more lavender in color.
Try out a few Geraniums in your garden this spring and I know you will enjoy them all season long!
Shawna Coronado says Get Healthy! Get Green! Get Community!