Hardy geraniums are low-growing plants with saucer-shaped flowers ranging in colour from purple, mauve and pink to white. Many varieties spread easily, making them excellent ground cover plants. They're a great choice for planting at the front of mixed borders or under trees and shrubs.
There’s a hardy geranium to suit most soil types and locations, and with a long flowering season to boot, there are many plants that look good when planted with them.
Hardy geraniums have quite distinctive leaf shapes which associate well with contrasting foliage. Many are semi-evergreen and some also develop additional colours in autumn. They look fantastic when planted alongside grasses and taller flowering plants, as well as plants like hebes, which have a different form and structure but similar flower colours.
Find out which plants look good with geraniums, below.
There’s a hardy geranium to suit most soil types and locations
The pretty, simple daisy flowers of feverfew provide a natural, informal look when combined with blue-flowered geraniums. It’s the perfect combination for attracting pollinators, and would suit a cottage garden-style border. Other similar daisy-type flowers that would work with geraniums include Erigeron karvinskianus or Anthemis punctata.
Tellima grandiflora has a similar habit to geraniums, with low growing foliage that spreads into generous clumps. However, its delicate flowers appear above the leaves on tall stems. It works particularly well with Geranium phaeum ‘Mourning widow’ (pictured). The dark geranium flowers contrast with the greenish-yellow of the Tellima blooms. Both plants suit a semi-shady location, on the edge of a woodland or under the shelter of a small tree or shrub.
Aquilegias flower in early summer and thrive in similar growing conditions to many geraniums, so will naturalise well among them. The distinctive nodding, bonnet-like flowers contrast beautifully with the simple open flowers of geraniums. Here the magenta pink of Geranium psilostemon complements the pale pink aquilegia flowers on dark stems.
The delicate pink bell-shaped flowers of Nectaroscordum siculum appear in loose umbels and are well suited to sunny borders or gravel gardens. It's a magnet for bees and makes a good combination with geraniums in a wildlife-friendly setting. Here, it's paired with white Geranium phaeum.
Grasses offer a great textural contrast with the soft foliage of geraniums. The evergreen Luzula nivea looks fresh and vibrant with Geranium ‘Johnsons Blue’. Other grasses that would work well in a similar semi-shady setting are Millium effusum ‘Aureum’ and Hakonechloa.
The fresh green, lacy fronds of ferns are the perfect foil for shade-tolerant geraniums. Choose smaller fern varieties such as Dryopteris affinis ‘Crispa Gracilis’, which has a compact habit. Or try taller, arching varieties, such as Dryopteris affinis, which will emerge above a mat of lower-growing geraniums.
With so many colours and varieties to choose from, geraniums can look great planted with other geraniums. In this image, pretty blue Geranium magnificum sets off the white variety to perfection.
Shade-loving hardy geraniums are perfect for growing under trees. Choose a small ornamental tree to give you a lovely contrast between foliage and the flowers growing up from below. The lower branches of this ruby-leaved Acer palmatum, gently brush the tops of the flowers of the pink cranesbill. The palmate leaves of the acer are dark and clearly defined, which works well with the looser geranium foliage.