Cuckoo for Cranesbills – Hardy Geraniums A Favorite in the Garden

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.

Hardy Geraniums

Geranium Brookside ~ hardy geraniums ~

Not Your Grandmother’s Geranium

geranium phaeum samobor ~ hardy geraniums ~

The name cranesbill comes from the Greek work “geranos” which translates to crane and bill due to the shape of the seed pod which looks like the “bill,” of a crane.

Cranesbill seedpod ~ hardy geraniums ~

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

Geranium pratense 'Okey Dokey' ~ hardy geraniums ~

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.

geranium cinereum ballerina ~ hardy perennials ~

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.

Geranium 'Rozanne' ~ hardy geraniums ~

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.

Geranium 'Orion' ~ hardy geraniums ~

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?

Geranium sanguienum - Bloody Cranesbill ~ hardy geraniums ~

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.

Geranium Dragonheart ~ hardy geraniums ~

Hey, even the Perennial Plant Association loves these guys.

Geranium cantabrigiense Biokovo~ hardy geraniums ~

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 leg work 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.


Learn about easy to grow hardy geraniums. Perennials plants also called cranesbill. Beautiful, come in many colors and have an airy cottage garden feel.

About Patti Estep

Patti is the creator of Hearth and Vine, a home and garden blog filled with projects to inspire your creative side. She loves crafting, gardening, decorating and entertaining at her home in Pennsylvania. When she is not working on a project at home or searching for treasures at nurseries and thrift stores with her girlfriends, you’ll probably find her with family and friends, at a restaurant, or home party enjoying new and different food adventures.

Affiliate Account Hearth and Vine/Patti Estep is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to


  1. Thanks for sharing. I LOVE my hardy geraniums. Didn’t realize there are different kinds. I may have to search some out now. Just when I thought I was done planting…..

    • Hi Susan, Ooooh yes there are many.. many more than I shared. Glad you liked the post. Sorry I haven’t responded sooner. Upgraded my theme today and ended up with a mess. Sigh… maybe I should have left well enough alone. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

  2. Great photos and as a gardener I found your information very useful.

  3. You’ve reminded me that I have at least one of these hiding in my garden. Now I just need to remember where it is!

  4. I love hardy geraniums, too. If you cut them way back mid summer, you will have nice tidy rosy mounds till winter. Also, I pull off the seed pod after bloom and the plant will trail along
    the ground or wind around nearby shrubs.

  5. I bought a collection of winter hardy geraniums, they did not do well in the sun in TN. I then put them in pots in partly shade, they are very spindly even after I cut the flowers of , they were planted in miracle soil and watered regular y,
    what else can I do?

    • Hi Elisabeth,
      Hardy geraniums should work in TN. In fact, I lived outside Nashville for 2 years and grew them there with no problem. Perhaps they will settle in and do better in time. You know what they say about perennials. First year sleep, 2nd year creep, 3rd year leap. Thanks for stopping by and good luck. Don’t feel bad if they don’t work out. We all have plants that don’t work from time to time. Check with a local nursery and see if they can recommend a particular variety that will work well.

Leave a Comment