Geranium Types and Varieties
Overview of main geranium (pelargonium) groups and varieties
Geraniums (of the pelargonium genus) are flowering, evergreen perennials, succulents or shrubs native to tropical and subtropical parts of the world, especially South Africa. The pelargonium genus contains about 280 species, many of which are grown as ornamental plants.
Geraniums can be divided into 6 basic groups, which differ considerably from each other. Here’s an overview of basic geranium types:
Zonal geraniums (pelargonium zonale)
Zonal geraniums get their name from the circular patterns, or zones, on their leaves. This group of pelargoniums is also distinguishable by its upright growth and long stems, which bear single or double flowers arranged in globular clusters (sometimes resembling hydrangeas), in shades of red, purple, salmon, pink or white. There are hundreds of zonal geranium varieties in a wide range of sizes and color combinations.
Ivy geraniums (pelargonium peltatum)
Ivy geraniums are mostly bred from Pelargonium peltatum and are characterized by their long narrow stems with thick leathery leaves that resemble ivy, adapted to retain water during prolonged periods of drought. Due to their trailing growth habit, this type of geranium is popular for growing in hanging baskets and in pots on balconies and terraces. There are hundreds of known ivy geranium varieties, some of which have bicolor leaves in different sizes and single or double flowers.
Regal or Martha Washington geraniums (pelargonium regal)
Regal geraniums, sometimes referred to as Martha Washington geraniums, come from the crossing of several pelargonium species (P.cucullatum, P.cordifolium, P.grandiflorum , ..) and are popular among growers for their large and brightly colored flowers of various shapes. They have the largest flowers among the geraniums. Martha Washington geraniums are compact shrubby plants that get woody and mature very quickly, which makes them start flowering very early. They’re a great introduction to geranium growing for beginners. Regal geraniums are one of the types that are easier to overwinter and do not mind less light during the winter months. This type of geranium is suitable for traditional annual growing on a balcony or in the garden, but will also work well as a houseplant.
Angel geranium blooms resemble violets, and many varieties of these geraniums also have bicolored flowers. The angel geraniums are in many ways similar to regal geraniums, but are more compact in stature and have smaller leaves and flowers. They were created by crossing regal geraniums with Pelargonium crispum varieties. Over the past decades these crossings have resulted in the creation of hundreds of angel geraniums of various shapes, sizes and colors.
Scented leaf geraniums are a group of geraniums that are grown mainly for their fragrant leaves, which release their scent when touched. Scented geraniums can be hybrids of different species (e.g. Pelargonium graveolens, Pelargonium quercifolium, Pelargonium ionidiflorum and many others) and the range of scents they can release is quite varied. Some of the most popular geranium scents include lemon, cinnamon, apple, coconut, rose, lavender, strawberry and other fragrances. Most scented geraniums have smaller, faint flowers and are grown as ornamental flowers, as plants for making perfumes, or as edible plants for seasoning food.
This group of geraniums is similar to the scented geraniums, but they have larger, more attractive flowers. The cultivation of these geraniums dates back to the 19th century, with growers using them as perennials for both pots and gardens. Unique geraniums have woody stems and leaves with a delicate fragrance. The older these geraniums are, the more beautiful and dense their blooms.
You may also come across various hybrids or indigenous wild pelargonium species in addition to the geranium types mentioned above.
Our tips for geranium varieties
There are hundreds of different geranium varieties in a wide range of colors, shapes and sizes, from which we have selected these exceptional varieties. Get inspired:
1.Find more about Geranium diseases