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5 Different Types of Geraniums (Pelargoniums)

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Janet has been passionately growing pelargoniums since a child. She is member of the Geranium and Pelargonium Society.


The Different Varieties of Geraniums (Pelargoniums)

If you love flowers, you’ll be happy to learn about different varieties of geraniums (pelargoniums) which is something that makes the plants particularly appealing.

Are you a fan of classical pelargoniums? Or do you prefer the most exotic-looking ones? Are you in love with big, butterfly-like blooms, or does a pelargonium's scented foliage attract you the most?

"Variety is the spice of life" goes the saying, and when it comes to pelargoniums, there is a flower for each taste.

Picking your favorite pelargoniums is like choosing a pastry from your favorite pastry shop. Not an easy task when there is so much eye candy!

Let’s take a brief tour of all the different varieties of pelargoniums and their unique characteristics, shall we?

Please note: While the term geranium and pelargonium may be used interchangeably in articles, garden centers and nurseries, there are differences between geraniums and pelargoniums.

1) Zonal Geraniums

Scientific name: Pelargonium × hortorum Bailey

These are the classical geraniums, those that can be admired on the balconies and gardens all over the world.

The word "zonal" derives from the marked zone of this plant's leaves.

The flowers of zonal geraniums may be single or double, and their blooms may come in a wide range of colors ranging from pure white to burgundy through many shades of pink, orange and red to the most intense purple. Some flowers can also be bicolored or with dots.

For the pelargonium lover's delight, recently a new yellow variety has popped up too.

The greatest feature of zonal geraniums is the fact that they are easy to care for and suitable for the balcony or windowsill as long as they're positioned in a sunny location with a nice breeze.

Zonal geraniums are rather frugal plants that are quite heat tolerant and drought resistant. They aren't very demanding when it comes to water.

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Invest in geraniums of single colors to create particular angles, or alternate different colors to set some fascinating contrasts, reminiscent of quaint villages of Europe.

2) Ivy "Geraniums"

Derived from pelargonium peltatum.

Named ivy geranium due to the resemblance of this geranium’s leaves with the English ivy's leaves, ivy geraniums boast glossy, waxy and rather thick leaves for better drought tolerance.

The biggest feature of these geraniums is that they are of the trailing type and can be found tumbling out of hanging baskets with their cascades of pretty flowers.

These variety of pelargoniums are quite generous plants, boasting early flowering displays up until the first frosts. You'll enjoy blooms with simple, semi-double or double flowers boasting several colors, sometimes even streaks of two colors.

Place your ivy geranium plants in large flower pots or large containers in the middle of a lush, pristine lawn or or adorn your balcony with hanging baskets of contrasting colors. I have enjoyed them for years in a large up-right vase with lovely designs as seen in the below picture.

Any way you display them, ivy geraniums will create compact colorful pillows in a variety of colors including red, lilac and white which contrast well with the liveliness of the their green foliage, creating stunning chromatic effects.

Enjoy them in a variety of climates, ranging from the plains, to the the mountains or even off the Mediterranean coast.

Ivy geraniums bring back memories reminiscent of the wonderful flowered balconies of Alpine huts.

3) Regal "Geraniums"

Scientific name: Pelargonium × domesticum Bailey.

These geraniums, also known as Martha Washingtons, are characterized by their extraordinary elegance.

These are the king and queens of the geranium kingdom, courtesy of their spectacular inflorescences boasting a large flowers in a variety of colors crowned by a darker blotch of color extending from the center of each petal.

Their leaves are quite serrated uniformly green (with no zoning), featuring an overall bushy, compact growth.

Regals have a reputation for being more delicate, and therefore, more challenging to maintain, but when the right care is provided, their cultivation does not present major problems.

Compared to zonals, regals have a shorter flowering period, and this is because the hot summer weather prevents the formation of new blooms.

The secret to regal geranium flowering is the lowering of temperature on well developed plants which evokes the formation of new buds.

4) Angel Pelargoniums

Derived from Pelargonium crispum

Angel pelargoniums, also known as "pansy faced," can often be confused with regal pelargoniums, but at a closer look their flowers and leaves are smaller.

Most of these have been obtained by crossing pelargonium crispum with a Regal pelargonium in the early 20th century.

The flowers often boast darker upper petals, with the bottom ones being more on the pale side. The leaves can be very serrated. Overall, the plants are compact and bushy giving them an appealing look.

Like the regals, angel pelargoniums enjoy being at cooler temperatures, in contrast with the zonals which tend to enjoy the sun and warmth.

Lately, there has been a surge in popularity of Angel pelargoniums courtesy of hybridists releasing new varieties.

5) Scented Geraniums

Botanical name: Pelargonium (scented-leaved group)

Among the different varieties of geraniums, the scented geraniums are lavished not so much for their flowers, but for the fragrance of their leaves, emanating a variety of intense scents.

Will you prefer the scent of roses, apricots, apple, citrus or mint?

Nowadays, scented geraniums come in a variety of odors to tantalize the most sophisticated noses. Indeed, there are hundreds of scented perfume nuances, several similar to known odors, other times quite original and indefinable.

The scent from the leaves is released upon being touched. Appealing scents are purposely grown to produce a special oil known as 'geraniol' which can be used as an essential oil for potpourris or may be sold commercially for the perfume industry.

Another big plus of scented geraniums is that their leaves are pleasant to touch boasting a velvety texture. While the flowers are smaller and less beautiful than common geraniums, they still can be pretty nonetheless.

Scented geraniums grow well in full sun exposure generally until June, afterward they prefer partial shade when the temperatures become more intense. If you own a “green” balcony, you cannot miss out the scented leaf geraniums.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Janet

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