Learn about hardy geraniums. Easy to grow perennials plants that give the garden a nice airy cottage feel.
I’m a little addicted to hardy geraniums, also known as "cranesbill?" If you haven’t grown them yet, I just may persuade to pick up a few. For those that have, maybe you're infatuated like me, and will enjoy my take on this lovely perennial plant.
Not Your Grandmother’s Geranium
The name cranesbill comes from the Greek word “geranos” which translates to crane and bill due to the shape of the seed pod which looks like the "bill," of a crane.
The term geranium is confusing because you may be thinking of the bedding plants that most of us know as annuals. The bedding plants are actually Pelargoniums which originate from South Africa. However, both cranesbills and Pelargoniums are part of the same family, Geraniaceae.
I’m a Fan
First of all hardy geraniums have this charming meandering habit with the sweetest little flowers. They provide an informal look to the garden which seeming messy but looking good at the same time. And for those of you who like to collect well, there are many.
There are over four hundred species and countless cultivars of this beautiful plant. They range in size from four inched tall to around four feet tall. Most of the ones I have are somewhere in the middle. They are easy to grow and are winter hardy from USDA zone 4 - 8. They like sun but will do well in some shade and they even grow well in my Western Pennsylvania clay.
Beauty All Season
The flowers are gorgeous and many of them bloom all summer long. In addition, many cranesbills have interesting foliage (some are even scented) -to admire, even when they are not in bloom and they change color in the fall.
Have I peaked your interest yet? How about the fact that hardy geraniums can be self-seeding which means you’ll have more to share or plant in your garden next year?
Don’t worry they are easily pulled out if they end up somewhere you don’t want them. But in my case, I love finding volunteers. I either leave them, or pot them up for a friend.
Hey, even the Perennial Plant Association loves these guys.
This one, Geranium x cantabrigiense ‘Biokovo.’ was named Perennial Plant of the Year in 2015. For me, if the PPA chooses a plant for their Plant of the Year, I know there's a very good chance it will do very well in my garden. Many other associations choose plants of the year, doing the legwork out for you, so you can be successful in your garden.
Once you find something that grows well for you, you'll probably want more. Especially if there are lots of different varieties like there are with the hardy geranium. Who knows, you may become cuckoo for cranesbills too.