The geranium, zonal, is an annual flower named for the horseshoe-shaped band of dark color in the leaves of most varieties. Pelargonium species come from South Africa, but through hundreds of years of breeding, the parentage of today's varieties has been obscured.
Description: Zonal geraniums are upright bushes covered with red, pink, salmon, white, rose, cherry-red, or bicolored flowers on long stems held above the plant. Flower clusters (umbels) contain many individual flowers and give a burst of color. Plants from four-inch pots transplanted to the garden in spring will reach up to 18 inches tall and wide by the end of summer.
How to grow: Zonal geraniums benefit from full sun and moderate to rich, well-drained, moist soil. Incorporate a slow-release fertilizer into the soil at planting time. Plant after all danger of frost has passed and the soil is warm. Space them 12 inches apart. Remove spent blooms.
Propagation: Cuttings root easily. Make cuttings eight to ten weeks prior to planting out for husky plants. Seed-grown varieties should be started 10 to 12 weeks prior to garden planting. Seeds germinate in seven to ten days at 70 degrees to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Uses: Zonal geraniums provide pockets of color in any sunny spot. Group three or more together for color impact in flower borders or along walks and pathways. They're classics in containers, by themselves or mixed with other plants. They will bloom through the winter in sunny windows. Zonal geraniums are also grown as standards-a single stem is trained to the desired height with a bushy globe of flowers and leaves above it.
Related species: Pelargonium x peltatum, the ivy-leaved geranium, has pendulous branches loaded with flowers and excels in window boxes and hanging baskets. Scented geraniums (Pelargonium species) have small or large leaves that may smell like roses or lemons and are grown as herbs. Martha Washington geraniums have showy, large flowers and are used as pot plants.
Related varieties: There are many varieties available at garden centers in the spring, in the whole color range of flower and leaf. Seed-grown singles will be virus free and can be found in many colors. Widely planted are Orbit, Maverick, Ringo, Bandit, and Regalia varieties. Black Magic contrasts dark foliage with pink and white flowers.
Scientific name: Pelargonium x hortorum
If you love the geranium's pretty flowers but don't have an outdoor garden, consider growing it as a house plant. We'll show you how in the next section.
Want more information? Try these:
- Annual Flowers. Discover your favorite annual flowers. We've organized them by color, sunlight, soil type, and height to make it easy to plan your garden.
- Annuals. There's more to an annuals garden than flowers. Learn about all of the annuals that enhance your garden.
- Perennial Flowers. Complement your annuals with these delightful perennial flowers. They are also organized by height, soil type, sunlight, and color.