Geranium x magnificum 'Rosemoor'

How to grow hardy geraniums

Discover everything you need to know about growing, propagating and caring for hardy geraniums, or cranesbills, in our expert Grow Guide.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Plant
Plant

Do Plant in January

Do Plant in February

Do Plant in March

Do Plant in April

Do Plant in May

Do Plant in June

Do Plant in July

Do Plant in August

Do Plant in September

Do Plant in October

Do Plant in November

Do Plant in December

Flowers
Flowers

Plant does not flower in January

Plant does not flower in February

Plant does not flower in March

Plant does flower in April

Plant does flower in May

Plant does flower in June

Plant does flower in July

Plant does flower in August

Plant does flower in September

Plant does not flower in October

Plant does not flower in November

Plant does not flower in December

Cut back
Cut back

Do Cut back in January

Do Cut back in February

Do Cut back in March

Do not Cut back in April

Do not Cut back in May

Do not Cut back in June

Do Cut back in July

Do not Cut back in August

Do not Cut back in September

Do Cut back in October

Do Cut back in November

Do Cut back in December

The name geranium can cause some confusion. Tender pelargoniums, that are used for bedding and container displays, have the common name of geranium.

Advertisement

Hardy geraniums, commonly known as cranesbill geraniums or simply cranesbills, are reliable, sometimes invasive, but undeniably stunning, long-flowering plants. Within the genus there are tiny alpine types and substantial border plants. There’s a hardy geranium for nearly every garden situation.

Take a look at our full advice on how to grow hardy geraniums in this handy guide.

There’s a hardy geranium for nearly every garden situation.
hardy-geraniums-in-paving-2
Hardy geraniums will grow in-between paving

Hardy geraniums are a popular perennial thanks to their ease and the wide choice. Some will flower right up until the first frost.

The majority of the border types prefer light shade, whilst the smaller alpine types prefer full sun. If you’ve a spot where nothing else grows, try a hardy geranium – they’re pretty indestructible. Hardy geraniums can cope with any soil type and some, such as Geranium sylvaticum and its cultivars, can cope with very dry conditions.

Hardy geraniums can be great self-seeders and plants will often grow in tiny cracks in paving, only going to prove how tough they are.

lilac-hardy-geraniums-2
Geranium pratense

How to grow hardy geraniums

Hardy geraniums are often bought potted but they can also be purchased online as bare-root plants. If buying bare-root, plant as soon as plants arrive. There is no need to improve soil unless it’s very poor.

Simply plant and water in well, then leave them be.

potting-up-seedlings-2
Potting on bare-root plants

Hardy geraniums: problem solving

There are very few, if any, problems that cause concern. Hardy geraniums are trouble-free. However, some can be invasive. Lift and pot up seedlings – they will make great plants for charity sales or as gifts for friends.

dividing-hardy-geraniums-2
Dividing hardy geraniums

Propagating hardy geraniums

There is seldom a need to propagate geraniums as seedlings are easily lifted and potted up from the garden. Plants can be lifted and divided in spring. Growing from seed can be tricky and long-winded.

cutting-back-hardy-geraniums-3
Pruning hardy geraniums

Care

Hardy geraniums need very little care. They’re not targeted by rabbits, and slugs and snails will eat other plants in preference. They can be cut back right to the ground after their first flush of flowers and will produce fresh foliage and more flowers in the same summer.

Some offer attractive autumn foliage, so resist cutting back too quickly.

Identifying hardy geraniums

Hardy geraniums are one of the largest group of garden plants. Foliage and flower colour varies hugely but the flowers are always symmetrical and made up of five petals. This makes them easy to identify.

Pruning shears
geranium-ann-folkard-3
Geranium ‘Ann Folkard’

Hardy geraniums to grow

  • Geranium cinereum ‘Ballerina’ – an alpine type ideal for sinks or rockeries. Deeply veined light-pink flowers. Prefers full sun and a well-drained soil. Long flowering period from April. Height of 20cm
  • Geranium sylvaticum ‘Album’ – native species that enjoys light shade. Flowers in spring for a good length of time. Pure white flowers. Is able to tolerate very dry seasons. Height 50cm
Advertisement
  • Geranium ‘Ann Folkard’ – deep purple flowers with an even darker centre displayed over lime-green foliage in early summer, sometime continuing into autumn. Enjoys a sunny spot. Can be vigorous. Height 50cm