These fragrant, colorful blooms are summertime favorites.
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When you think of geraniums, two popular varieties come to mind: The first is a heat-loving summer beauty with large flower clusters (the pelargonium species) or the true geranium species, which are hardy perennials that thrive in zones three through nine. While there are many breeds of this flower—each with their own growth habits, colors, and aromas—they all have one thing in common: They make a low-maintenance contribution to most summer landscapes. Ahead, discover some of our favorite iterations to include in your own yard, courtesy of a horticulturalist.

blooming geranium plants in windowbox
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Types of Geraniums

There are several different types of geraniums within the pelagonium species, according to Suzanne DeJohn, a horticulturist and writer at KidsGardening.org. The most common are zonal, ivy, regal, and scented. "These delightful plants all thrive in full sun and well-drained soil. Although perennials in their native tropical habitat, they're generally grown as annuals in temperate climates because they won't survive freezing temperatures," she notes.

red zonal geranium blooming
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Zonal Geraniums

According to DeJohn, you can recognize zonal geraniums by their tight, mounding habit with sturdy, upright flower stems. "Their scalloped leaves have dark arcs or stripes, and it's these zones of color that give them their common name," she explains. "Flower colors range from white to dark red with bright oranges and pinks in between." This type makes for a bold addition to your window boxes, container gardens, and flower beds.

red ivy geraniums in window box planter
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Ivy Geraniums

As their name implies, these geraniums create a cascading effect with their smooth, ivy-shaped leaves and vine-like growth habit. They produce the same types of elegant blooms and colors you will find via zonal geraniums. "They are a favorite for hanging baskets, tall planters, or along stone walls where the stems can drape over the sides," notes DeJohn.

blooming purple regal geranium
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Regal Geraniums

Named after their bold, sometimes bi-colored, blooms, regal iterations are known for producing large flowers. "Leaves have coarsely serrated edges and are often faintly fragrant," DeJohn says. "Because of their showy nature, they make excellent specimens in container gardens. Their eye-catching and slightly aromatic foliage can also make them a great indoor plant; be sure they get plenty of sunlight."

Closeup of Pink Sweet Scented Geranium Flowers
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Scented Geraniums

If you're looking for blooms with a striking aroma, you'll want to check out these scented plants. "While the foliage of most geraniums is distinctly aromatic, scented geraniums take this a step further," DeJohn says. "The velvety leaves have various fragrances resembling other plants, including rose, citrus, peppermint, and pineapple."

pruning geranium flowers backyard
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Caring for Your Geraniums

Fortunately, these showy florals are relatively easy to care for, but to get the most out of your blooms, DeJohn says you should wait until after the final frost of spring before planting them. "They need well-drained soil; the roots will rot in overly wet earth," she explains, adding that if you're growing them in a container garden, you'll need to be particularly mindful about drainage. "Before planting, mix in some compost and an extended-release fertilizer." Your geraniums will do best with plenty of sunlight (at least six hours per day); you should allow the soil to dry between watering sessions. "Deadhead the stems of spent blooms at the base, near the node, to encourage continued flowering," says DeJohn.

Comments (1)

Martha Stewart Member
June 6, 2018
Wonderful pictures with informative article. Especially appreciate the examples given.