What is a Hardy Geranium?

What separates a hardy geranium, such as Geranium Rozanne, from a half-hardy geranium or pelargonium? You might be surprised to know that there is some confusion out there, and the true hardy geranium sometimes gets mixed up with the other members of the Geraniaceae family.

It all started back in the 18th century. The hardy cranesbill and the pelargonium, coming from the same geranium family, had similar looks and people would call them by the same name. This was back before modern media and it was difficult for gardening and horticultural professionals to correct the masses, so the case of mistaken identity persisted, and confusion exists even today. But the differences between the two types of geranium are distinct.

hardy geranium PinterestWhile they share the name ‘geranium,’ hardy geraniums and pelargoniums are separated by several key characteristics that make the cranesbill very different from the pelargonium, or ‘annual geranium.”

Hardy Geraniums

Geraniums are Perennial

One of the biggest differences between these two garden beauties is that a true hardy geranium is a perennial plant while the pelargonium is an annual. What that means is that a hardy geranium such as Rozanne will return after a dormant winter to bloom again without needing to be replanted. Pelargoniums, on the other hand, die off after their first blooming season and need to be replanted the following year.

Hardy Geraniums Have Symmetrical Petals

If you were to look at a true geranium and pelargonium side by side, a big difference between the two would be immediately obvious. They both have five petals per flower, but the three bottom petals of the geranium are symmetrical and evenly distributed around the centre while the two upper petals are different in shape and size.

As you can see, the true hardy geranium is in a class all her own. A particularly hardy geranium like Geranium Rozanne will perform well in your garden as a beautiful ground cover, border option, or container decoration for years and years.


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