Going off topic today to talk about the pretty, colourful plants we call geraniums. What is known as geraniums may be pelargoniums a native plant from South Africa. These plants are a gardener’s best friend as they are easy to grow, require only a small amount of care and are extremely hardy. And of course, are absolutely beautiful.

The homely nature of geraniums reminds me of old fashioned gardens and are found everywhere across the world. Although the one place I always think of for spectacular geraniums and pelargoniums is in Europe, especially Italy and Spain. The cobblestone laneways are adorned with many different geraniums in terracotta pots, large old tomato tins or any other container people can find to grow the most healthy, stunning geraniums that stand out against the grey stone walls – stunning!

“Huge containers of red and pink geraniums were placed on each step and window boxes full of pink and lavender flowers lined the porch railings.”

JA Whiting

There are 250 different species of geraniums. The problem is with what we call these plants. Geraniums or pelargoniums came about when the very first pelargonium arrived in Europe in the 17th century and was named geraniums because it looked like the perennial geranium plant or (cranesbill) They have been called geraniums ever since.  

“Experience has taught me that people who do not like geraniums have something morally unsound about them. Sooner or later you will find them out; You will discover that they drink, or steal books, or speak sharply to cats. Never trust a person who is not passionately devoted to geraniums.”

Beverly Nicols

 Science, or para-science, tells us that geraniums bloom better if they are spoken to. But a kind word every now and then is really quite enough. Too much attention, like too much feeding, and weeding and hoeing, inhibits and embarrasses them.

Victoria Glendinning

The plant we usually call Geranium comes in 4 different styles

  1. Common everyday Geranium – Pelargonium x Hortorum or Zonal Pelargonium. It has
  • ball shaped flowers
  • stocky plants
  • single and double blooms
  • coloured bands on the leaves
  • like full sun or partial shade
  • dislikes over watering
  • grows in garden beds or pots
  • is an annual unless in a warmer climate they will be a perennial
  • lots of colours, red, salmon, pink, whites, mauves.
  • hardy

2. Ivy Geraniums or Pelargonium peltatum

  • thick glossy green foliage
  • trailing flowers
  • good for window boxes, hanging baskets and borders
  • flowers are smaller than geraniums
  • like moist soil
  • filtered sun and warm weather

3. Scented Leaf Geraniums or Pelargonium Graveolens

  • beautiful fragrant foliage –
  • leaves can be used for cooking
  • small blooms but the largest of all pelargoniums
  • loves pots and containers
  • leaf shapes and touch are diverse- lacy, velvety, serrated, crinkled, or round
  • scents vary from mint, rose, chocolate, citronella, lemon and peppermint
  • edible leaves

4.Regal Geraniums or Martha Washington Geraniums

  • grows indoors
  • bicoloured flowers darker center
  • fades out into lighter coloured petals like whites
  • prefer cold climate
  • long growing

Italy

Pelargoniums are easy to care for and should be watered after the soil dries out a bit then water well. The only thing I’ve found that in dry weather spider mites may attack them. Keep a watch out for aphids and rust as well. Otherwise these humble plants are a gardeners delight, so cheerful, bright and colourful.

Title quote by Beverley Nichols and other quotes as cited.

All content and images by Di Baker 2021 from my garden or travels with the exception of the Geranium Gallery courtesy of Unsplash and the Top Image painting by Frederick Childe Hassam Geraniums, 1888 – 1889

There is peace in the garden. Peace and results.

Ruth Stout

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