Tips on Selecting Summer's Most Popular Flowering Plant

Posted: May 19, 2016

Tried and true, the geranium is one of the most popular flowering plants for a garden bed, containers, pots and hanging baskets.

The name itself brings to mind several things-the stalwart red blooms we see everywhere from memorial plants marking a loved-ones grave to mass borders in a home landscape to a small container on a porch.

Geraniums come in different colors, scents and sizes. Nothing beats the versatility or stamina of the geranium. As you start to choose your landscape plants for this growing season, here is some information to consider.

The plants we call geraniums are really Pelargonium. True geraniums look entirely different and are perennial, often called hardy geraniums. The word Pelargomium comes from the Greek word geranos meaning crane, as the seed head looks like a crane bill. The common geranium we use in our landscape can be found in various forms:

  • Seed geraniums: These are generally smaller plants than cutting-grown geraniums, with small but more numerous flowers and a more self-branching growth habit. They are often labeled as seed geraniums and sold in small pots or packs.
  • Zonal geraniums: These geraniums are named this way because they have a dark ring midway on the leaf. They tend to have bigger blooms ranging in size from three to six inches, and are available in many colors. They tend to grow upright so they are best suited for beddings and pots. These can take the most sun and are drought tolerant.
  • Ivy-leaved: These geraniums are best for hanging baskets and window boxes, as they have a trailing habit. They have a growth habit less upright than other kinds of geraniums, and the leaves resemble the English ivy plant. Another distinction is these do better in part shade during the extreme heat of the summer.
  • Regal: Sometimes called Martha Washington, these geraniums come in pastel shades and the leaves have more serrated edges in comparison to the rounded ones of the other varieties. They make excellent indoor plants in a sunny window, but usually perform well in the extreme heat of summer.
  • Scented: These are specialty geraniums. They are grown for their foliage more than the flowers. They come in lemon, peppermint, citronella, and even chocolate, among others. Expect to pay a premium for these.

Geraniums are among the easiest landscape plants to have. They do best in well-drained soil and full sun.

Generally a 10-10-10 fertilizer is all that is required to promote continued blooming throughout the season.

Deadheading is important to the health of the plant, as well as encouraging new blossoms. Remove any yellow leaves or spent flowers and throw them away.

A mold called botrytis is spread through poor sanitation of your plants. Not many insects bother the geranium, but whiteflies, aphids and mealy bugs can attack them. These pests can be managed easily with insecticides found at your local garden center.

For more information on growing geraniums, please contact your local Extension office and talk to a Master Gardener.

Contact Information

  • Master Gardener Coordinator, Lackawanna County
Phone: 570-963-6842