Pelargoniums (also known as geraniums) are popular bedding plants, providing a burst of colour or fragrance throughout summer. They’re easy to grow and thrive in terracotta pots as well as traditional bedding displays. They work well planted or their own or combined with other plants such as lavender and nemesia. Some types of pelargonium are perfect for growing in hanging baskets.
How to grow pelargoniums
Grow pelargoniums in moist but well-drained soil in full sun. Cut back in late summer and take cuttings to insure against winter losses. Most pelargoniums need protection in winter – move pots indoors in autumn to ensure they grow back the following year.
More on growing pelargoniums:
- Pelargonium types explained
- Pelargonium, euphorbia and salvia pot display
- Nemesia, diascia and pelargonium hanging basket
Where to plant pelargoniums
Pelargoniums can be grown in garden soil of any types but will benefit from a neutral or alkaline soil. Grow in a position of full sun in containers, hanging baskets or flower beds.
If growing under glass, protect them from direct sunlight in high summer.
How to plant pelargoniums
When growing in containers choose a multi-purpose compost with added slow-release fertiliser. Pelargoniums look spectacular when planted with other summer bedding plants. If planted in a good compost and kept well-watered they’ll withstand being planted tightly with other tender plants.
Here, Monty Don demonstrates how to plant pelargoniums and lavender in pots, for a beautiful display:
How to propagate pelargoniums
Take pelargonium cuttings from the new growth of overwintered plants in spring. Cuttings can be taken in late summer if preferred.
To remove cutting material, cut above the third joint below the growing tip. Pinch out any flowering buds that are forming. With a clean knife remove all but the top two leaves. Recut the base of the cutting just below lowest joint.
Fill a plastic garden pot with cutting compost and firm the compost down. Water and insert the cuttings into the compost by about 1cm. Position pots in a warm but not hot place that is light. Don’t forget to label the pot if you’ve taken cuttings from lots of different varieties.
Watch Rosie Yeomans demonstrate how to propagate pelargoniums in our No Fuss Guide:
Growing pelargoniums: problem solving
Zonal pelargoniums only are susceptible to pelargonium rust. This is a fungal disease that is often worse in wet summers or when plants have been grown in a poorly ventilated space. Rust is easily spotted as the underside of leaves displays brown spots.
Destroy plants that are covered in the brown spots or head to the garden centre to by a suitable fungicide.
Find out if you should water over-wintering pelargoniums, in our Quick Tips video:
How to care for pelargoniums
Water pelargoniums well in summer and deadhead to encourage a second flush of flowers.
Pelargoniums are often grown as annuals and are composted at the end of summer. If you have room in a frost-free place, then it’s worth trying to keep them overwinter.
To overwinter, lift plants that are in garden soil or large pots and pot them into a smaller pot. This should be done before the first frost. Removed any damaged leaves and faded flowers. Cut plants back by about a third and position in a frost-free but bright place. The plants don’t go into complete dormancy so water lightly through the winter. In spring feed and step up the watering. Plant out only once the danger of frost has passed.
If growing pelargoniums as houseplants, you can let the plant carry on flowering, which they may do all year round. Keep indoor pelargoniums away from radiators or open fires.
Here, Monty Don explains how to reinvigorate overwintering pelargoniums by cutting them hard back before they start into growth:
Pelargoniums for scent
For scent grow the scented-leaved pelargoniums. Choose from apple, orange, lemon, spice or lavender. They’re often sold as herbs as the leaves are edible.
Pelargoniums to grow
- Pelargonium ‘Attar of Roses’ – a scented-leaved type with pale-pink flowers with a rose scent. Height 45cm
- Pelargonium ‘Cramden Red’ – a zonal type with bright red flowers over green foliage. Height 50cm
- Pelargonium ‘Crocodile’ – an ivy leaved type with a trailing habit. Stunning marked foliage – hence the name crocodile. Bright pink flowers. Height of 25cm
- Pelargonium ‘Bold Shade’ – a new dwarf type with shocking pink flowers of two tones. Reaches just 18cm
- Pelargonium ‘Ada Green’ – deep maroon and light pink flowers. A regal types that reaches 20cm