Pelargonium types explained

Geranium (pelargonium) types explained

Discover the different types of geranium (pelargonium), from ivy to zonal, in our simple guide.

Geraniums are easy to grow and provide a long season of colour. They’re ideal for growing outside in sunny, sheltered conditions, but you can also grow them indoors in the conservatory or greenhouse.

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Native to South Africa, they survive winter only in warmer regions. It’s therefore wise to grow them in containers, so you can move them indoors in autumn or during hard winters.

Plant geraniums in peat-free, multi-purpose compost in full sun. They’re extremely tolerant of drought, so there’s no need to water them regularly, but they will benefit from a high-potash feed every one or two weeks in summer. Deadhead spent blooms to keep more flowers coming.

More on growing geraniums:

Learn all about the different types of geranium, below.


Zonal geraniums

Zonal pelargonium with red flowers
Zonal geranium with red flowers

Zonal pelargoniums are the familiar bedding pelargoniums that you see at garden centres. They have rounded leaves and bear clusters of flowers on long stalks. Colours range from white to pink, orange, scarlet and even dark red. They’re perfect for window boxes and patio containers.


Ivy-leaved geraniums

Ivy-leaved pelargonium flowers
Ivy-leaved geranium flowers

Ivy-leaved pelargoniums have long stems of flowers that tend to flop on the ground. They’re well suited to growing in hanging baskets or raised planters. Leaves are often smooth and shiny. The range of flower colours is much the same as zonal pelargoniums.


Fancy leaf geraniums

Fancy leaf pelargonium 'Frank Headley'
Fancy leaf geranium ‘Frank Headley’

As their name suggests, fancy leaf pelargoniums have variegated or coloured leaves in shades ranging from yellow, gold and dark green. They include ‘Frank Headley’, which has salmon pink/red flowers and green and white variegated leaves.


Regal geraniums

Regal pelargonium 'Dark Secret'
Regal geranium ‘Dark Secret’

Regal pelargoniums such as ‘Lord Bute’ and ‘Dark Secret’, pictured, have large, often-patterned flowers borne in small clusters. The leaves are usually coarsely toothed and may be pleasantly scented.


Scented-leaf geraniums

Scented-leaf pelargonium Fragrans Group
Scented-leaf geranium Fragrans Group

Scented-leaf pelargoniums have particularly scented foliage in fragrances resembling other plants, including rose, lemon, lime, citrus, peppermint and pineapple. They include the lovely ‘Lady Plymouth’, ‘Bitter Lemon’ and the Fragrans group, pictured.


Angel geraniums

Angel pelargonium 'Rockwell Sophie'
Angel geranium ‘Rockwell Sophie’

Angel pelargoniums are miniature versions of regal pelargoniums, with small round leaves and pansy or viola-like leaves. They’ re great in pots or hanging baskets. Try the stunning ‘Quantock Perfection’ or ‘Rockwell Sophie’, pictured.


Decorative geraniums

Decorative pelargonium 'Ashby'
Decorative geranium ‘Ashby’

A lot of decorative varieties date back to Victorian times but modern varieties are available, too. It’s a very varied group – the flowers come in a range of forms and colours. They are particularly good for conservatories or as single specimen plants on the patio. Pelargonium ‘Ashby’, pictured, has dark pink blooms with a crimson centre.


Stellar geraniums

Stellar pelargonium 'Vectis Glitter'
Stellar geranium ‘Vectis Glitter’

Stellar pelargoniums were first bred in the 1970s in Australia and have been improved ever since. The starry flowers look delicate but they’re actually pretty tough and long lasting, able to cope with scorching sun. Look out for the ‘Fireworks’ or ‘Quantum’ series.


Unique geraniums

Unique pelargonium 'Voodoo'
Unique geranium ‘Voodoo’
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Unique pelargoniums, such as ‘Voodoo’, pictured, are similar to the scented-leaved pelargoniums but have more showy flowers. Many have been around since the beginning of the 19th century. To keep the plant bushy, prune back by half in spring.