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Genus Geranium (Cranesbill)

Geranium Geranium himalayense Photo/Illustration: Michelle Gervais
jer-AY-nee-um Common Name: Cranesbill
These indispensable perennials offer distinctive leaves and simple flowers in white and shades of blue and pink. There are plants for almost any climate, in a range of sizes from 5-inch buns to 5-foot giants. In an era of highly hybridized, flamboyant plants and doubled flowers, hardy geraniums are modest and restful to the eye. They are versatile perennials that thrive everywhere.
Noteworthy characteristics: Geraniums occur as wildflowers widely—around the world from alpine slopes to low grasslands and woodlands—so there’s likely to be a geranium for any garden from USDA Hardiness Zone 1 (below -50°F) to the mild-winter areas of California and Florida. With the simple charm of wildflowers, they fill niches in woodland settings, perennial borders and rock gardens and can visually link shrubs to more formal and brightly colored perennials.
Care: The majority need only reasonably fertile, reasonably moist soil. A few prefer gritty, well-drained soil.
Propagation: Hardy geraniums are easy to propagate. Most can be started from seeds in the spring or divided at any time during the growing season.
Problems: Most are not troubled by pests and diseases.

Species, varieties and cultivars for genus Geranium

Geranium 'Ann Folkard' Geranium 'Ann Folkard'
(Geranium)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This superb plant exhibits dark-eyed magenta flowers that are set off by chartreuse leaves. Even better, though, is the way it weaves its way through neighboring plants, creating fabulous plant combinations with little effort.

Geranium 'Rozanne' Geranium 'Rozanne'
(Hardy geranium)
(32 user reviews)
Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

The large blooms of this perennial are a spectacular violet-blue with a white throat and darker venation on plants 1 to 2 feet tall and wide. The attractive foliage weaves itself through neighboring plants. Grow in borders, containers, or rock or cottage gardens. 'Rozanne' is most effective en masse. 

Geranium ‘Johnson's Blue’ Geranium ‘Johnson's Blue’
(Cranesbill)
(1 user review)
Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This popular perennial is grown for its blue or lavender-blue, saucer-shaped flowers that bloom for many weeks. It is useful in borders, rock gardens, and containers. It quickly reaches about 18 inches tall and 2 or 3 feet wide.

Geranium × oxonianum 'Wargrave Pink' Geranium × oxonianum 'Wargrave Pink'
(Cranesbill)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

'Wargrave Pink' is a vigorous perennial suitable for groundcover. The notched, funnel-shaped, salmon-pink flowers bloom all season. 

Geranium cinereum ‘Ballerina’ Geranium cinereum ‘Ballerina’
(Geranium)
(1 user review)
Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This beautiful, mounded, dwarf perennial has gray-green leaves (grayer than the species) and large, purplish pink flowers with purple veins and eyes. 

Geranium himalayense Geranium himalayense
(Cranesbill)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This plant bears rich medium blue to violet-blue flowers from 1.5 to 2.5 inches wide in early summer, and blooms sporadically throughout the summer. 

no image available Geranium macrorrhizum 'Bevan's Variety'
(Bigroot geranium)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Thick rhizomes and stout, sprawling stems guarantee this hardy geranium survivor status. It forms dense mats of foliage in no time, making a perfect large-scale groundcover. The foliage is aromatic, particularly when touched, and transforms to red in fall. The magenta-pink flowers are conspicuously veined. 'Bevan's Variety' grows to slightly more than a foot tall with indefinite spread.

no image available Geranium maculatum
(Spotted geranium)
(1 user review)
Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This upright plant bears cupped flowers 1.5 inches across in variable hues of pale to bright pink from late spring to midsummer. 

no image available Geranium maculatum 'Elizabeth Ann'
(Spotted geranium)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This gorgeous cultivar of the North American species has rich, chocolate brown foliage and contrasting lavender blooms. 

Geranium nodosum Geranium nodosum
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This attractive groundcover blooms all summer and is tolerant of diverse habitats. It has glossy leaves and notched, 1.25-inch lilac-pink flowers with darker veins.

Geranium pratense 'Dark Reiter' Geranium pratense 'Dark Reiter'
('Dark Reiter' geranium)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

'Dark Reiter', a fairly new cultivar, has a short mounded habit and dissected dark leaves. Bright lilac-blue blossoms appear in spring, and trimming the plant back after flowering encourages more blooms in fall and helps maintain its neat habit. 'Dark Reiter' is slow growing, making it perfect for a rock garden. Like many other geraniums, it does not appeal to deer. Pair silver-toned foliage plants with 'Dark Reiter' for a stunning effect. -Teresa Smith, Regional Picks: Northeast, Fine Gardening issue #120

Geranium pratense 'Midnight Reiter' Geranium pratense 'Midnight Reiter'
(Meadow cranesbill)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Deeply cut plum-purple leaves emerge in spring and stay true to color throughout the season. Lavender-blue flowers bloom beginning in late spring. 'Midnight Reiter' grows to only about 6 or 8 inches tall and twice as wide. More shade causes the foliage to be greener.

no image available Geranium psilostemon
(Cranesbill)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Upright, magenta flowers form shallow cups with jet-black centers and veins bloom in summer. The leaves have deep-pink tints and color nicely in the fall.

Geranium sanguineum Geranium sanguineum
(Bloody cranesbill)
(1 user review)
Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

A profusion of delicate, magenta-pink, upward-facing blossoms cover this plant over a long period. The leaves are deeply divided and add texture to the plant's rounded form. 

Geranium sanguineum var. striatum Geranium sanguineum var. striatum
(Bloody cranesbill)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

A profusion of delicate pink, upward-facing blossoms cover this plant over a long period. The leaves are deeply divided and add texture to the plant's rounded form.