The Year of the Geranium

Our friends at the National Garden Bureau have named 2012 as the Year of the Geranium.


| April 27, 2012



Blue Sunrise Geranium

'Blue Sunrise' 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 plant:

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 developed.

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 like pansies.





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