Garden plants: The different types of geranium

Learn about about the amazing varieties of geraniums.

Geraniums are what we tend to think of when we need an inexpensive but colorful addition to our flower beds, boxes, or patios. The most popular annual sold at garden centers, geraniums require minimal care and will bloom until frost if spent blooms are removed. When we think of geraniums, we first think red, even though this versatile plant comes in many colors. The surprise of geraniums is that they are available in dozens of varieties. Geraniums can have scented leaves, ivy type leaves, be dwarf or large plants, have carnation shaped flowers, or dozens of other variations. The bedding geraniums that we’re most familiar with are just one leaf on a huge plant.

While the leaf of the geranium can be a distinct feature, as the gold or multi-colored, the bloom itself is what catches our eye. The blooms of this annual can be rose or tulip shaped, or cactus flowered. They can be single or double or semi-double. There are several distinct groups of geranium, each with it’s own characteristics.

Garden plants: The different types of geranium

Zonals are the group of geranium that’s most familiar. The term zonal comes from the dark zone markings on the leaf. Leaf characteristics create their own groups; tri-colored, fancy leaf, gold leaf, and silver leaf. There are dwarf and miniature zonals, two separate categories. When the flowers resemble a rose, tulip, or carnation they are called Unusual Flowered. Blooms that are speckled like bird’s eggs also fall into this group. Stellars can be any combination of the other categories. Categories of geraniums that are not zonals are ivy leafed, ivy plus zonal, scented leaf, angels, formosum, regals, uniques, frutetorum hybrids, species, and species hybrids. It becomes complicated.

When we refer to a Stella D’Oro, we know we’re talking about a compact gold colored day lily. A Barbara Hines geranium is a compact zonal with stunning double petaled flowers in varying shades of pink. The Frances Gibbons zonal has huge pink double blooms. Coral highlights on a double pink bloom is an Edwards Eleanor zonal. The stunning light apricot Butterfly Loreli belongs to a group of zonals called Butterfly Leaf, so called because of the different colored spot on the leaf that is said to resemble a butterfly.

The Regal category is more commonly known as Martha Washingtons, distinguished by their stiff serrated leaves. Regals are found in solid and two-toned colors, such as the Australian Mystery. This striking plant features solid dark purple on the upper petal and very pale, almost white, lavender on the bottom. The white tipped burgundy petals of

Improved New Gypsy resemble a tiny lily. Exquisite.

In the group of geraniums called Unique, VooDoo is outstanding with black centers on deep red blooms. A spicy rose scent perfumes the giant pink blossoms of Pink Capitatum.

Purple Unique, a large plant, blooms in a medium shade of purple with darker purple markings.

Fancy leafed zonals have two or more colors on the leaf, instead of just green. Tri-color will have three colors in the leaf. Green with white and reddish brown is a Silver Tri-color. Gold Tri-color will have yellow or gold instead of the white, along with the green and reddish brown. The contrast of the leaves with the brilliant color of the flower makes for a dazzling display, as in the gold tri-colored leaves and double red flowers of

Encore or the salmon shades of Mr. Henry Cox. Not everyone will care for the contrasts of fancy leafed geraniums, but those who do will have an impressive display.

Excellent for baskets are ivy zonals, moderate trailers with fairly large blooms. Lara Gem is an outstanding specimen of ivy zonals, with very large pink double blossoms, while

Lara Delight is a deeper rosy shade. Rococo is a rose shaped bloom, pink, double petaled, and showy. These are larger than average plants and generous bloomers.

Frutetorum hybrids are often sold as “cascades”. Another excellent basket plant, they are trailing plants and many have a brown spot in the center of the leaf. Jackpot Wild Rose boasts semi-double pink blooms on fairly long stems. Minah’s Cascade is a blend of orange and salmon, a gorgeous flower.

Almost like a geranium in disguise, the Appleblossom Rosebud has long lasting rose shaped blooms, white with red edging. These very showy blossoms make nice cut flowers. Red, Pink or Scarlet Rosebud look amazingly like clusters of tiny roses… an extraordinarily beautiful plant.

Tulips are short lived flowers but the Patricia Andrea geranium looks just like a bouquet of partially opened tiny tulips. This series comes in salmon, pink, and red. There is also a fringed variety, Patricia Andrea Fringed, with slightly ruffled edges. All of these flowers are sometimes sold as Pandora series.

This is just a sampling the vast array of geraniums available. The Internet has become the shopping mall of choice, bring the greenhouses of the world to our desktops. Put the word geranium in your search bar and be amazed at the variety to choose from.

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