Geraniums, Colorful, Scented Flowering Shrubs for Containers or Patio Gardens

Geraniums are a beautiful garden plant, known for bright red or hot pink flowers.  This plant has the Latin name Pelargonium and the common name Geranium.  Pelargonium hortorum are also called Common Garden Geraniums.  They are perennial plants which grow up to 3 feet tall (or more) and have a shrubby habit.  The round, slightly ruffled leaves are slightly hairy and aromatic measuring from 1 to 3 inches across.  Older plants have woody stems.  Leaves can be solid green or have edging in red, yellow or brown.  There are many different hybrids of geraniums, some with scalloped leafs and some with colorful edges or centers.

Asymmetrical Geranium flowers have two petals that point up and three that point down.  Some resemble orchids and are bred to have similar colors.  Pelargonium flower colors range from white to pink, deep reds, purple, peachy oranges, to deep salmon.  Color hues can be gentle pastels or neon bright colors that stop traffic.

Pelargoniums are native to South Africa so they can take heat and bloom almost year round.  In my heavy, clay soil they do well with occasional water.  They can take full sun to part shade, but if it gets over 100 degrees in the afternoon they will need shade during that time.

Geraniums in containers: Geraniums grow well in containers.  Many European villages are known for their bright geraniums dripping in vibrant flowers from every window box and balcony.  However, they require a bit more water than plants growing in the garden.  The smaller the pot, the faster the plant will dry out.  If your geraniums are drying out too fast, try mixing in some water-retaining crystals from your local nursery.

Propagation: Geraniums are fairly easy to root from cuttings.  I’ve had great luck just sticking branches in the ground.  Be sure that one of the joints in the branch is underground.  This part tends to form roots the fastest and help get your plant established quicker.  If the ground is kept moist for the first week or two they should take easily.  Rainy season is a great time to plant cuttings directly in the ground because Mother Nature does the watering for you.  It is also possible to root geraniums in a jar of clean water.

Geraniums can also be grown from seed.  Many seed companies offer their special hybrids with dazzling color combinations.  But seeds from hybrid plants will not remain ‘true’.  Meaning they will not be the same at the parent plant.  It is so much easier to root a cutting and you know you will get the exact same plant.

Scented Geraniums: Several different versions of Pelargonium are grown for their scented leaves.  Geranium scents include rose, apple, lime and mint.  These plants also grow to about 3 feet tall.  Their leafs may not be as large or as round as the Garden Geraniums and growth can be leggy but the scent is worth it.  Scented geraniums are not usually grown for their flowers as they are normally small, pink and only bloom in the spring.  Gather fresh cuttings to scent a room or hang them to dry for use in potpourri.

Geraniums make smart choice for any garden whether you grow them for their colorful flowers, scented leaves or low water requirements,. Visit to see geraniums in flower and read more about dry garden plants.  Happy gardening!

Laura Zinkan is a writer in California. Drop by her southern California gardening blog at to read the latest plant profiles and find out what’s flowering now. She also cooks up where you can find retro decor and kitchen tips for busy cooks.  Copyright 2010 by Laura Zinkan. Article may be reprinted if author credit is given with a website link.  All rights reserved.

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