The Year of the Geranium
Our friends at the National Garden Bureau have named 2012 as the Year of the Geranium.
'Elegance Cherry Blush' Geranium
courtesy National Garden Bureau
In honor of 2012 being the Year of the Geranium, the
National Garden Bureau brings you some quick facts about this much-loved garden
1. The bedding plants gardeners plant in late spring and
bring inside in autumn are commonly known as geraniums; but geraniums they are
not. They are pelargoniums.
2. True geraniums are the cranesbills, hardy North American
and European herbaceous perennials; while pelargoniums are semi-tender or
tender plants, mostly from South
Africa, that have graced our gardens with
their large flowers for decades. (It’s a rather lengthy story about why the
difference and to read that, go to the NGB website.) For this
article, we will still refer to the annual bedding plants as geraniums.
3. Traditionally, plants were grown from cuttings
(vegetatively propagated). However, in 1962, Dr. Richard Craig of Pennsylvania State University
developed a technique for seed scarification (nicking) and bred the first
commercially successful open-pollinated, seed propagated geranium, ‘Nittany
Lion Red’. Four years later, the first F1 hybrid geranium from seed was
Four basic types
1. Common or Zonal Geraniums (Pelargonium x hortorum) – This is the classic bedding plant, which
typically comes to mind when someone says “geranium.” Deriving its name from
the “zoned” leaf markings, it thrives both in containers as floriferous single
specimens as well as planted out in swaths awash with color in the landscape.
2. Regal and Angel Geraniums (Pelargonium domesticum) – The Regals, which also are known as
Martha Washington geraniums, are bushy plants with large blossoms, single or
double flowers in dramatic colors and patterns. Regals tend to be spring
blooming, requiring cool nighttime temperatures to bud. Angels are smaller
versions of Regals developed for their dazzling blooms, which look somewhat
3. Scented-Leaf Geranium (Pelargonium domesticum) – Scented-leaf geraniums are coveted
heirloom plants, still grown today for their pleasing fragrance, unusual
foliage, delicate flowers, essential oil and culinary use. The scent, created
by oils in the leaves, is released when the leaves are rubbed or bruised. The
fragrance of a scented-leaf geranium may remind you of roses, lemons,
pineapple, chocolate and other spicy fragrances.
4. Ivy-Leaf Geranium (Pelargonium
peltatum) – Plants with long, brittle stems full of sculptured, ivy shaped
leaves and gracefully trailing habits are immensely popular for hanging
baskets, window-boxes and containers. Flowering abundantly throughout the
summer, they have smaller, looser flower umbels of single, semi-double or
double blossoms in shades of deep maroon, red or pink.