No garden should be without a Hardy Geranium. Find out why:
A garden filled with only high maintenance showstoppers, all vying for attention, would be a headache for most gardeners. So it’s lucky then that we can turn to the quiet beauty of the Geraniums for respite. Not the half-hardy Pelargonium
species commonly found perched on a windowsill on Instagram but the blushing, many-bloomed star of the border; the Hardy Geranium.
The Hardy Geranium is essentially the gardener's BFF. It's there in times of need (especially when that time of need is an awkward dry, shaded patch on your plot), and it’s the peacemaker among all your other plants, quickly knitting together a scheme all the way from the sun lovers to the shade queens.
Its mat-forming, spreading habit means the Hardy Geranium cleverly subdues the weeds
while making all your other plants look like a match made in heaven. Like all good plant pals, the Hardy Geranium is a reliably cheering sight, and it will stick around through the tough times and the good — they don’t call it hardy for nothing.
Best of all, there are a dizzying array of varieties available online and in nurseries across the UK. Many have a long flowering period, and they can be bought as annuals
, biennials and perennials
. So if you tire of one Geranium, you can easily swap it for another (though we wouldn’t recommend trying this with your IRL buddies).
Not that you will tire of the Geranium. Interest in these hardworking herbaceous perennials is showing no signs of waning. In fact, Geraniums are very much in vogue among followers of the Cottagecore
trend. Essentially, Cottagecore is about creating traditional English countryside vibes in your home. But it also ties in with what the RHS has declared a big trend of 2021; "comfort planting", whereby gardeners are turning to familiar and reliable cottage-garden faves. And why not? This easy-going style is low maintenance
, high impact and provides a feast for pollinators, including bees and hoverflies.
Speaking of pollinators, opt for blue or violet Geraniums as these colours are favoured by bees. If you're trying to create a wildflower meadow
, consider adding the Meadow Crane's Bill (Botanical name Geranium Pratense) to your scheme. This native perennial wildflower is a hit with more than 100 insect species, including Short and Long-tongued Bumblebees, Honeybees and Wasps.
Get your bee-banquet ready with the following:
Where to plant Hardy Geraniums
These ankle-grazing blooms might get lost at the back of a border but will shine if placed at the front of a mixed border. Additionally, they'll banish bare patches under shrubs and trees. And they look particularly fetching sprouting out of cracks in paving or adding flashes of colour in a rock garden alongside other drought tolerant plants
. Why not pair your Geraniums with the following?
How to grow Hardy Geranium:
These popular low maintenance plants are well-loved in the garden for many reasons. They are hard to kill, easy to divide and will thrive in practically any well-draining soil, including clay, chalky and sandy soil. This makes them one of the more affordable ways to populate your borders. The only thing that might upset these flowers is waterlogged soil, so make sure you provide good drainage.
The best time to cut back a Hardy Geranium is just after it's finished flowering, but you can also give them a tidy up if they're looking a bit straggly.
It's worth noting that the very thing we love them for can also make them a nuisance, but not all geraniums are invasive. Where space is tight, avoid growing any G. x oxonianum, e.g.' Wargrave Pink', says Geranium specialist Vanessa Cook
You can propagate them by taking semi-ripe cuttings in summer or by seed or division in autumn or spring. See our top tips on dividing perennials in the article below:
Why is my Hardy Geranium not flowering?
If your Geranium is holding back on the blooms, there are ways you can coax them out. After that flush of flowers, deadhead them to encourage round two. Additionally, mulch
with leaf mould or compost to encourage healthy growth year after year.
Watch Rosy Hardy talk about some of her favourite Geranium plants
Did you know?
The genus name Cranesbill derives from the Greek for 'Crane' and refers to the beak-shaped seed pods which some varieties carry.
The plant's value as groundcover was spotted by Graham Stuart Thomas, a gardens advisor of the National Trust in the 1950s. According to Garden Flora, they were used to reduce maintenance "in the vast acreage of country house gardens the organisation has just acquired from the nation's temporarily impoverished aristocracy."
In The Herbal Apothecary, Geranium maculatum (commonly known as Wild Alum Root, Spotted Geranium, Wild Geranium and Crowfoot) is said to work its magic on several ailments from reducing wrinkles to helping "restrain excessive discharges".
Live and breathe Hardy Geraniums? Why not join the Hardy Geranium Group
, which formed back in 1974 and still has an active Facebook group.
In a flourishing, biodiverse garden, they aren’t the preferred dish of choice for slugs and snails (hurrah), but the following might arise if the soil is too soggy.
Where to buy Hardy Geranium
Got the hots for Hardy Geranium? Find Hardy Geranium for sale here:
Are you going full pelt with pretty petals this year? Let us know what you're growing by using the hashtag #ShowUsYourBlooms
This article is part of Candide's Festival of Flowers, an online floral ‘take over', aiming to unite the nation in a joyful celebration of gardens, plants, pollinators and people! Read more from the series below.