Geraniums: Cranesbills or Pelargonium ?

Pelargonium is a genus of flowering plants which includes about 200 species of perennial, succulent, and shrub plants, commonly known as geraniums. Confusingly, Geranium is the correct botanical name of the separate genus which contains the related Cranesbills. Both genera are in the Family Geraniaceae. Linnaeus originally included all the species in one genus, Geranium, but they were later separated into two genera by Charles L’Héritier in 1789. Gardeners sometimes refer to the members of Genus Pelargonium as "pelargoniums" in order to avoid the confusion, but the older common name "geranium" is still in regular use. (from Wikipedia)

I don't know about you, but for years I thought the pretty annual red and pink flowering plants that you put in planters and borders were the only geraniums that existed. Then I read an article in a gardening magazine about ten years ago and learned about both types. I always now call cranesbills perennial geraniums and the ones pictures above "just geraniums". These geraniums now come in so many different colors and gardeners can plant Martha Washingtons, ivy, or just geraniums. Our geraniums work well for us because we bring them in each fall and winter them over. We also propagate them for new plants, and enjoy them year round. Each year we try to find a few new or unique types and colors. They are the easiest plants to propagate with some healthy cuttings, some root hormone, and potting soil.

If you haven't grown scented geraniums, they are a treat in any garden. When the leaves are scratched they have the scent of rose, mint, lemon, or other lovely smells. They are said to deter mosquitoes, but I don't know if that is true for sure. We have lots planted around, but we have never had too many of those pesty bugs before. Maybe I should take a plant camping and see if it really does work. Cranesbills are a good choice as a border plant because they spread and have pretty blue or purple flowers in summer.

Just geraniums also seem to be a plant right now in the hot, hot weather that are hanging in there with blooms still opening. Whatever kind you have or whatever name you give them- geraniums are a perfect addition to any garden.


  1. I knew about scented geraniums, but I didn't know there were different kinds. I haven't grown geraniums - so I am clearly clueless (well, was until I read what you had to say). Pretty flowers regardless.

  2. the few I have are not doing well.
    I've always loved the smell of them. Haven't tried the scented ones yet.

  3. pinehurst and pamela: The scented ones are perfect to add to a bouquet because they bring that extra scent in the house. They also have little flowers on them. I will take some pictures and post them another day.

  4. I have 'just geraniums', too. And cranesbill - lots of it - it's a little invasive at my place, in fact. I also have a smaller geranium than the cranesbill - but can't remember the name right now and don't have any of my gardening books here in the motorhome. I may think of it later.

  5. I like the ivies best, but I love all geraniums. I haven't tried the scented ones yet, but would like to. I read recently that hummingbirds love added bonus.
    I wintered a few over from last summer and when I repotted a couple of them the leaves turned a reddish brown and fell off. Have you experienced this? I left the others alone and just fed them a lot. They're doing well.
    I also had good luck with cuttings I took from a few of the plants.
    I enjoyed catching up with you. Love that peach picture and poem :)

  6. Jackie: They do seem to be a plant we can grow in the inland empire don't they?
    Kerri: We have experienced the dying leaves and then other years they do great. I found an ivy a few weeks ago that is a deep purple color. Just gorgeous. I will surely propagate it. I am glad you liked the peach post.


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