Hardy Geraniums
February 29, 2024

by Kate and Len Lucas

After years of gardening, we can safely say that this group contains some of the most reliable, hardy plants that you can buy. Every garden centre will have some and they are not at the expensive end. Many are species plants meaning that they should self-seed and run true and some are hybrids which in many cases are an improvement on what nature started out with.

Hardy geraniums get few pests or diseases. Once the first flush of flowers has finished many can be trimmed right back to the ground and they will flower again often all year and only need a tidy-up in the autumn once they have finished flowering. Please don’t confuse them with the red-flowered geraniums in the house plant department which are actually Pelargoniums.

We have always grown hardy geraniums because they are so reliable and some of them have the longest flowering time of any garden plant… They are great at covering up hard edges of paving slabs or softening any part of your garden when nothing else seems to be able
to do the job and they are easy to propagate to produce more for next to nothing.

If you are new to gardening and don’t want to make a mistake by buying the wrong plant then these are for you. In the garden centre they will be in the outdoor perennial section and new stock should arrive round about Easter. There is a very wide range available so we have chosen some that we still grow successfully today and probably always will.

GERANIUM PSILOSTEMON
This is an absolute cracker of a plant and will need some space to spread out and display the almost purple flowers with a black centre.

GERANIUM “RUSSELL PRITCHARD”
One of the most elegant plants you can buy. Quite low growing with silver grey leaves and the magenta flowers are on show for a very long time.

GERANIUM “ANNE FOLKARD”
A real sprawling plant if you need to cover a fairly large area. Purple flowers with a dark centre.

GERANIUM “WARGRAVE PINK”
Not sure how this plant got its name but it is very good at filling up spaces. Probably the tallest in this list at about two feet. One of the most popular geraniums.

GERANIUM CANTABRIGIENSIS
Good for ground cover. Worth it even if it didn’t flower. There are several forms and we think the pink flowered is the better plant.

GERANIUM MACRORHIZUM
Ideal for dry shade and ground cover. We have large drifts of it in our front garden where it is covering some rather unforgiving gravel and although some of it is in the sun, which it doesn’t like, it does a good job. Available with either white or red flowers.

GERANIUM “ROZANNE”
An award-winning plant. A belter example of a hybrid if you want a blousy show off.

GERANIUM CINEREUM “BALLERINA”
This is a quite small geranium but still beautiful with ashy-green leaves and purplish-pink flowers. To get the best out of it avoid very wet soil. You might have to look for it in the garden centre’s alpine section.

The last two are varieties of our own British native plant Geranium sanguineum which is the parent of many low-growing almost alpine geraniums.

GERANIUM “ELKE”
As far as we know all the varieties of our own Geranium sangineum have the same dark green, rounded very divided leaves which are attractive in their own right and really only separated by the colour of the flowers which in this case are a beautiful dusky pink.

GERANIUM “STRIATUM”
Striatum was originally discovered in the wild in Cumbria and is now widely available and has probably the best satin pink flowers of any garden plant.