Cranesbills, or hardy geraniums, are perennial border plants with saucer-shaped flowers in shades of pink, purple and blue. They are easy to grow, thrive in shade and flower for months.
They’re popular in cottage garden schemes and offer a long season of pollen and nectar for a number of pollinators, particularly bees.
Most geraniums will grow in a wide range of conditions, preferring sunny positions and humus-rich soil. They’re often vigorous plants, which can freely seed themselves around the garden.
Discover 10 great hardy geraniums to grow, below.
Geranium oxonianum f. thurstonianum bears single to double, pink-purple flowers with very narrow petals. It’s perfect for growing at the front of a mixed herbaceous border, or at the base of shrubs such as roses. H x S 50cm x 70cm.
Purple-pink, narrow-petalled flowers of Geranium oxonianum
Geranium sanguineum var. striatum
Geranium sanguineum var. striatum is a compact, very low-growing geranium, which bears masses of pale pink, veined flowers in contrast with dark green foliage. It’s perfect for growing at the front of a mixed herbaceous border, or in containers on the patio. H x S 10cm x 30cm.
Pale-pink, veined flowers of Geranium sanguineum var. striatum
Geranium ‘Patricia’ bears bright purple flowers with black centres over a low-growing mound of dark green leaves. Leaves turn a fantastic shade of red in autumn. H x S 60cm x 45cm.
Black-centred, bright-purple flowers of hardy geranium ‘Patricia’
Geranium cinereum ‘Giuseppe’
Geranium cinereum ‘Giuseppe’ is a compact variety that remains as a neat cushion. From early to late summer the plants are covered with half inch-wide, bowl-shaped magenta flowers. H x S 30cm x 30cm.
Magenta flowers of hardy geranium ‘Guiseppe’
Geranium ‘Max Frei’
Geranium ‘Max Frei’ bears bright pink, veined flowers on hairy stems, from June to August. Grow it at the front of a mixed herbaceous border, and deadhead spent blooms regularly to prolong flowering. H x S 40cm x 35cm.
A pink bloom of hardy geranium ‘Max Frei’
Named after nurserywoman Rozanne Waterer who discovered this attractive hardy geranium with her husband Donald, Geranium ‘Rozanne’ bears large violet-blue flowers with white centres and grey anthers, for months on end. H x S 30cm x 60cm.
Violet-blue flowers of hardy geranium ‘Rozanne’
Geranium x magnificum
Geranium x magnificum produces a glorious show of rich violet-blue flowers in mid-summer. The Royal Horticultural Society have given their prestigious Award of Garden Merit (AGM). H x S 60cm x 90cm.
Purple blooms of Geranium x magnificum
Geranium ‘Brookside’ bears large deep blue flowers with white centres from June to September, in contrast with mid-green leaves. Grow it at the front of a mixed herbaceous border and deadhead spent blooms regularly to prolong flowering. H x S 60cm x 50cm.
Blue flowers of hardy geranium ‘Brookside”
A pink-flowered plant is sometimes sold under the name ‘Spessart’ but the true plant has white flowers. It makes a useful ground cover plant for dry, shady areas, producing a dense mat of aromatic leaves, which take on rich autumn tints. H x S 50cm x 60cm.
Whtie flowers of hardy geranium ‘Spessart’
Geranium maderense is the largest of the geranium species, reaching a lofty 1.5m in height. Although perennial, it often acts as a biennial, producing pretty magenta pink blooms in its second year. H x S 100cm x 150cm.
Magenta-pink blooms of Geranium maderense
Low-growing geraniums for pots and containers
Geranium cinereum ‘Laurence Flatman’ – prominently veined light pink flowers with neat, rounded leaves
Geranium dalmaticum ‘Album’ – starry green leaves with pure white flowers. Has a spreading form
Geranium sanguineum ‘Ankum’s Pride’ – bright pink flowers are set atop a carpet of deeply cut green foliage
Geranium sanguineum ‘Pink Pouffe’ – a mat-forming geranium with light pink flowers and finely cut foliage
Geranium catabrigiense ‘Berggarten’ – mid-pink flowers and green foliage. Spreads well
Geranium catabrigiense ‘Westray’ – lush green foliage is topped by magenta flowers
Geranium renardii – green foliage with a texture like that of culinary sage. Pale pink flowers with purple veins
Geranium pratense ‘Midnight Ghost’ – deeply cut bronze foliage with white, veined flowers
Geranium pratense ‘Midnight Reiter’ – deeply cut purple foliage with lilac flowers