Saturday, April 11, 2009

Geranium Confusium

So let's clear up this confusion about geraniums once and for all.

"What confusion?" you may ask. Geraniums are those flowers you see in planters on the patio at McDonald's and your grandma had them in her window boxes. They come in red, white, and pink. They don't survive freezing temperatures, so if you live in the northern zones, you either have to bring them in for the winter, or buy new ones each spring.

That's right, isn't it? Not exactly.

We do call those geraniums, but they're really
Pelargoniums. But there are geraniums that really ARE geraniums and they're perennials. So why are Pelargoniums called geraniums if they're Pelargoniums and geraniums are another thing altogether?

While you wrap your head around those thoughts, let me show you some photos of my Pelargoniums.

'Red Happy Thoughts'

'Red Happy Thoughts'


Citronella Scented Geranium

'Chinese Cactus'

'Mr. Wren'

While commonly known as geraniums, these annual types are of the genus Pelargonium. They are hardy only to zone 9. That leaves much of the US out of loop when it comes to leaving them in the ground year round. Fortunately, they aren't expensive plants to buy every spring.

This past fall, I decided to try the drying method of overwintering my Pelargoniums, instead of leaving them in their pots when I brought them in. It's now time to pot them up and see if they'll take off and grow. I think at least a few of them will, because I see green on them now!

Of these types of geraniums, there are zonal, seed, ivy, stellar, scented, regal and fancy-leafed. A concise explanation of each of these types can be found
here. At Our Little Acre, we have grown all except the seed type. Regal geraniums are also known as Martha Washington geraniums here in the US, as well as pansy geraniums because their blooms resemble those of pansies.

Martha Washington 'Imperial'

Now that you know the annual-type geraniums are actually Pelargoniums, what about the true geraniums? Hardy geraniums are perennial and survive winters as cold as Zone 3 in many cases. They come in shades of purple, blue, white, and pink and are commonly known as Cranesbill.

Here in Ohio, as in many other areas, hardy geraniums grow wild. We have "relocated" several small clumps that we found in a nearby woods and along an abandoned railroad track, to our "Wildflower Way" area.
I've also got several hybridized cultivars scattered throughout the gardens:


Unknown Purple

Unknown White

'Victor Reiter, Jr.'




So are we straight on this now?


Rob (ourfrenchgarden) said...

Geraniums (Cranesbil) originated in the northern hemisphere, Perlagoniums in the south, south Africa I think.

Over here perlagoniums are referred to as geraniums.

You've got some really nice varieties. Great photos too.

I liked the 'drying' post by the way.


flydragon said...

"Are we straight on this now?" Oh absolutly, uh huh, you betcha, sure thing. The only thing I know for sure now is that you have a ton of different geraniums and that they are all gorgeous.

F Cameron said...

I've been straight for years, but it's a great tutorial! :-)

I love my hardy geranium 'Brookside'. I don't know if I love the 'Rozanne' because the rabbits loved them to death! I have 3 left out of 9 that I am now spraying with rabbit repellant.


Cathy S. said...


Anonymous said...

No matter what you call them, they're all beautiful and will always be present somewhere in my gardens. They're hardy, colourful, and consistent in this neck of the woods and best of all, I can't seem to kill them! ;-)

Connie said...

You have some beautiful ones....I love Mr. Wren, that Martha Washington and Ballerina. I bring my pots in, in the fall and put them on a windowsill in my cool basement. I simply start watering them in Spring, and they start growing potting up neccesary.

Kylee Baumle said...

Rob ~ They're known as geraniums here, too - that's why the post. Interesting that they're also called geraniums over there!

flydragon ~ Aww, thanks! Read the words s-l-o-w-l-y. It might help. It might not. LOLOL.

Cameron ~ Yikes! Darn rabbits. Is 'Brookside' more blue than 'Rozanne'?

Cathy ~ Good! :-)

Nancy ~ They're great performers here, too, which is one of the major things that I love about them.

Connie ~ You know, that makes sense. I'm going to try that next year. Thanks for the tip!

June said...

I love Rozanne for its willingness to bloom from spring to fall, but only one of my plants has survived. It is boisterous though, a true wonder. I'm zone five and wondering if anybody else has a spotty record with Rozanne.

Kylee Baumle said...

June ~ Yes, it's a vigorous one! Halfway through the season, I cut it way back or it would just take over! I'm in zone 5 as well and I know a few others here that have it and it does well for them, too. Not sure why you had trouble. :-(

Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

Well done Kylee! I really like the pelargonium at the top with the variegated leaves. Red Happy Thoughts. I am fond of the ivy varieties for containers. I have a couple of the true Geraniums in my front yard...Dwarf variety, pink.

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