Also known as geraniums, pelargoniums are easy to grow and provide a long season of colour. They’re ideal for growing both outside in sunny, sheltered conditions, and indoors in the conservatory or greenhouse.
Discover six of the best pelargoniums to grow.
Pelargoniums are easy to grow – find out all you need to know about growing pelargoniums in our pelargonium Grow Guide. Native to South Africa, pelargoniums survive winter only in warmer regions. It’s therefore wise to grow them in containers, which you can bring indoors in autumn.
Simply plant them in multi-purpose compost in full sun. They are extremely tolerant of drought, so there’s no need to water them fastidiously, but be sure to feed with a high-potash feed every one or two weeks in the growing season. Deadhead spent blooms to keep more flowers coming.
There are several types of pelargonium – find out which is suited to your garden.
Zonal pelargonium 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 pelargonium flowers
Ivy-leaved pelargoniums have long stems of flowers that tend to flop on the ground. They are very 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 pelargoniums
Pelargonium ‘Frank Headley’
As their name suggests, this group has 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.
Pelargonium ‘Dark Secret’
Regal pelargoniums such as ‘Lord Bute’ and ‘Dark Secret’, pictured, have large, often-patterned flowers borne in few-flowered clusters. The leaves are usually coarsely toothed and may be pleasantly scented.
Pelargonium 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.
Pelargonium ‘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.
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. ‘Ashby’, pictured, has dark pink blooms with a crimson centre.
Pelargonium ‘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 pelargoniums, such as the stunning ‘Voodoo’, pictured, are very similar to the scented-leaved pelargoniums but with 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.
Should I water overwintering pelargoniums?
Yes, you should water pelargoniums over winter, but sparingly. It’s easy to get these plants through the winter as long as they’re kept frost-free, well-ventilated and not quite touching each other. They have succulent stems and only need watering when they show visible signs of wilting. Do so in the morning on a mild day and make sure the water is able to drain freely from the pot.