Geranium - (HARDY) Planting Guide

Unsung Heros
Hardy geraniums are a group of perennials that are still awaiting the credit they are due. Carefree bloomers that add bright dots of color for most of the growing season, these plants weather a wide range of temperatures, flourish in a variety of light conditions and are happy in most soils. In other words, they perform like champs almost anywhere. Where does the "Cranesbill" name come from? The long, slender beak-like seed pod that follows the blossoms gives Cranesbill or hardy geraniums their common name. We recommend getting out a big pair of garden shears and snipping off the spend blooms, these seed pods and any ragged foliage about midsummer. This trimming encourages new growth and an encore flowering performance well into fall, netting you more blossoms each year, while keeping your plants looking well groomed.
PLANTING
DEPTH

"Eyes" or growing points at soil level

WATER
QUANTITY

Light to Moderate

SUNLIGHT
QUANTITY

Full sun to shade

PLANTING
PROXIMITY

12 Inches Between Planting

Outdoor Beds
  1. Find a location where the soil drains well. If there are still water puddles 5-6 hours after a hard rain, scout out another site. Or amend the soil with the addition of organic material to raise the level 2-3" to improve the drainage. Peat moss, compost, ground bark or decomposed manure all work well and are widely available. While hardy geraniums aren't fussy about soil, they will not survive in soggy soil or standing water. Once established, these plants can tolerate moderate drought.
  2. Site your plants where they will receive partial sun to medium shade. Some geraniums, especially sanguineum, can manage full sun in northern locations but prefers a little shade elsewhere.
  3. Your plants will be shipped potted or "bareroot"; check individual variety descriptions. Bareroot just means that the plant is in a dormant state and the soil has been washed from the roots so you won't risk introducing any soil-borne diseases into your garden. Also, the plant is lighter and cleaner to ship. Bareroot plants are easy to handle and settle in quickly. Tuck your geraniums into the ground with the roots pointing downwards and fanned out. Place the growing points at soil level. Space plants about 12" apart.
  4. After planting, water well to settle the soil around the roots. Top growth and additional roots will form within a few weeks, depending on soil and air temperatures. Flowers develop in late spring to summer.
  5. Water periodically during the growing season if rain does not occur, keeping in mind that weekly deep waterings are better than lighter drinks every day or two. About 1" of water per week is a good estimate of the amount needed during active growth periods.
  6. After the early flush of blooms has faded trim the plants back 25-50%. This will tidy up their shape and encourage a subsequent flush of bloom.
  7. In late fall, your geranium foliage will fade and wilt with the onset of colder weather. At this point you may cut off any remaining leaves with the knowledge that next spring will bring fresh growth.
  8. Hardy geranium plants grow larger over time, spreading and developing into big clumps. These clumps can be divided by slicing them in half vertically with a sharp shovel. Replant the pieces or share with gardening friends. Divide in the fall every third or fourth year, if you like.


Pots, Barrels, Tubs & Urns
  1. Start with a large container and fill with good quality, well-drained soil. Almost any commercially available potting medium will work fine. Make sure there are adequate drainage holes in your pots; geraniums must never sit in waterlogged soil.
  2. Site your plants where they will receive partial sun to medium shade. Some geraniums, especially sanguineum, can manage full sun in northern locations but prefers a little shade elsewhere. Consider adding other plants to your container for variety; small to medium hostas and tuberous begonias are excellent partners.
  3. Your plants will be shipped potted or "bareroot"; check individual variety descriptions. Bareroot just means that the plant is in a dormant state and the soil has been washed from the roots so you won't risk introducing any soil-borne diseases into your garden. Also, the plant is lighter and cleaner to ship. Bareroot plants are easy to handle and settle in quickly. Tuck your geraniums into the ground with the roots pointing downwards and fanned out. Place the growing points at soil level. Space plants about 12" apart.
  4. After planting, water well to settle the soil around the roots. Top growth and additional roots will form within a few weeks, depending on soil and air temperatures. Flowers develop in late spring to summer.
  5. Water periodically during the growing season if rain does not occur, keeping in mind that weekly deep waterings are better than lighter drinks every day or two. About 1" of water per week is a good estimate of the amount needed during active growth periods.
  6. After the early flush of blooms has faded trim the plants back 25-50%. This will tidy up their shape and encourage a subsequent flush of bloom.
  7. In late fall, your geranium foliage will fade and wilt with the onset of colder weather. At this point you may cut off any remaining leaves with the knowledge that next spring will bring fresh growth.