How To Grow And Care For Perennial Geraniums

Here’s how to grow these easy going perennials.

perennial geranium
Southern Living/Adrienne Legault.

You’ve probably grown annual geraniums (in the genus Pelargonium) for years. But those plants are cousins to true geraniums, or perennial geraniums. These under-utilized flowers deserve a place in your garden for their hardiness and beauty. “Perennial geraniums bloom for months, which is unlike many other types of perennials, which typically flower for only a few weeks,” says Kata Kress Wallace, regional product manager for Walters Gardens. “They’re also fast-growing plants that don’t require a lot of care. Even beginners will have success with this plant.”

Perennial geraniums are low-growing, mounding plants that work well as groundcovers, edging plants, or in containers. Also called cranesbill because of the shape of their beak-like fruit produced after flowering, these perennials bloom profusely from late spring to early summer. Pollinators love the delicate flowers that appear on long, graceful stems above the foliage. These perennials are not fussy about soil type, and they grow in full sun to part shade, says Wallace. Deer and rodents generally steer clear of these plants because of their spicy-minty scent.

Here is everything you need to know about growing and caring for perennial geraniums in the South:

Plant Attributes

Common Name Perennial geranium, hardy geranium, cranesbill
Botanical Name Geranium
Family Geraniaceae
Plant Type Perennial
Mature Size Ranges from 25 to 35 inches wide by 10 to 20 inches tall, depending on variety
Sun Exposure Full sun to part shade
Soil Type Average to poor
Soil pH Neutral
Bloom Time Late spring to early fall
Flower Color White, pink, purple, blue
Zones 6 to 8 (USDA)
perennial geranium

Southern Living/Adrienne Legault

Perennial Geranium Care

Perennial geranium is a hardy plant that does well in most garden settings because it thrives in all kinds of soil from sand to clay and needs little care once established, says Wallace. Deadheading is not required, though a quick shearing can rejuvenate leggy growth after blooming.


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Give perennial geranium at least four hours of direct sunlight. Afternoon shade is okay in hot regions. It tolerates dappled shade, too, but may produce fewer flowers.


Perennial geranium grows well in all types of soil, including sand and clay. When planting in clay, it may help it establish faster if you work some organic compost into the area, says Wallace. It’s not necessary, but you can broadcast spread a granular fertilizer in the spring as well.


Water these plants the first few weeks when getting established. Otherwise, they don’t typically need supplemental watering unless it’s a lengthy drought.

Temperature and Humidity

Perennial geraniums don’t mind the relentless heat and humidity in the Southeast. But they do need a winter chill period, so they grow best in zones 6 to 8 (USDA) in the South.

Types of Perennial Geraniums


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Geranium ‘Rozanne’

This hybrid clumping variety grows 20 inches tall and 24 inches wide, with non-stop violet-blue flowers throughout the season. It has exceptional heat tolerance.

Geranium x cantabrigiense ‘Biokovo’

This naturally occurring hybrid, discovered in the mountains of Croatia, makes a carpet of 8 to 12 inches tall and 18 inches wide, with delicate pinkish-white flowers in late spring. It’s a fast spreader.

Geranium pratense ‘Boom Chocolatta’

This new hybrid has unique bronze leaves with purple-blue flowers. It tolerates short periods of drought once established. It grows 24 to 26 inches tall and 28 to 30 inches wide.

Geranium sanguineum

This plant, native to Europe and northern Turkey, is commonly called bloody cranesbill. It grows 9 to 12 inches tall and 24 inches wide with magenta flowers that have darker veins. It blooms in late spring with variable rebloom throughout the summer.

Potting Perennial Geraniums

You can grow perennial geraniums in pots. In fact, they may do better in pots in warmer zones, such as the Mid and Lower South. That’s because keeping them in pots will expose the root zone to the winter chill hours the plant needs to perform well.

Overwintering Perennial Geraniums

Perennial geraniums stay semi-evergreen in the Mid and Lower South and mostly die back in the Upper South, reappearing in the spring. There’s no special care required to keep these plants over the winter.

If the plants need divided because they’re taking over an area, dig up and divide the clump in the fall. They’re incredibly forgiving about being moved, so don’t be afraid to divide them to make more plants.

How To Get Perennial Geraniums To Bloom

The most important factor is to give these plants at least four hours of direct sunlight per day. You also may get a subsequent flush of flowers if you shear the plants back after the first bloom, says Wallace. If your plants are growing rapidly, it’s okay to shear them back a few times during the season to encourage lush new growth and some additional flowering.

perennial geranium

Southern Living/Adrienne Legault

Common Problems with Perennial Geraniums

These are some of the most fuss-free perennials you can grow, says Wallace. They’re not troubled by diseases, such as rust or powdery mildew, that plague many perennials. They also have almost no pest issues, except the occasional slug.

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