Hardy geraniums are easy to grow and generally adaptable, with species that are at home in the cool comfort of woodlands while others thrive in the baking harshness of screes. The loose and relaxed character of geraniums fits well with the informal planting styles that have dominated gardens for the past 60 years.
Here, plantsman John Hoyland recommends 21 of the best new cranesbill hardy geranium cultivars.
Geranium Rozanne (= ‘Gerwat’)
A mass of flowers from June to October, Geranium. Rozanne was found in Rozanne Waterer’s Somerset garden in 1989. Once established, it forms a wide, neat clump. 50cm. RHS H7, USDA 4a-8b.
Geranium cinereum ‘Sophie’
A compact dome with large (2.5cm diameter) flowers mainly in May and June and sporadically thereafter. Will grow in
sun or part shade but needs good drainage, especially in winter. 15cm. USDA 4a-9b.
Geranium. wallichianum ‘Rosetta’
Deep-pink flowers with magenta veins on this selection made by Dutch nurseryman Hans Kramer. This hardy geranium flowers from mid-June through to September. 40cm (60cm spread). USDA 5a-8b.
Geranium. ‘Lilac Ice’
Plantsman Michael Steggles spotted this hardy geranium growing in a batch of Geranium Rozanne. It has delicate, pale-lilac flowers from June to September and looks good at dusk, when the flowers seem to glow. 40cm.
Geranium. cinereum ‘Alice’
Probably the largest flowers of a Geranium. cinereum cultivar over evergreen foliage. Flowers profusely in July and again in September. The hardy geranium was introduced by the Devon nursery Border Alpines. 15cm. USDA 4a-9b.
Geranium. wallichianum ‘Havana Blues’
This is much more compact than most Geranium. wallichianum cultivars. It flowers from the end of June through to September and its hardy bright-blue flowers have distinct magenta veins on the petals. 35cm. USDA 5a-9b.
Lucent, lilac-pink flowers in June and July and then again towards the end of August as the temperature drops. This hardy geranium will grow in part shade as well as full sun. 50cm. AGM. USDA 5a-8b.
Geranium. cinereum ‘Signal’
A cultivar raised in Germany in the 1990s. It forms a neat dome of evergreen foliage that has a silvery-grey sheen. The bright magenta flowers on this hardy geranium also have a silvery tinge. 15cm. USDA 4a-9b.
‘Ivan’ is a big, muscular plant that grows tall and has startlingly bright magenta flowers. This hardy geranium’s main flowering is during June and July with a few flowers later in the year if the whole plant is cut back. 1m. RHS H7.
Geranium. Dragon Heart (=‘Bremdra’)
Large, 4cm-wide, magenta flowers with a black centre and veining are produced in great abundance from June to September. 50cm (80cm spread). RHS H7, USDA 5a-8b.
Geranium. ‘Tiny Monster’
A vigorous, sprawling hardy geranium with vivid pink flowers that have slightly ruffled petals. The main flowering is in May and June with a second wave in late summer. 45cm (60cm spread). USDA 5a-9b
Geranium. ‘Tanya Rendall’
Hardy geranium ‘Tanya Rendall’ makes an attractive ground cover of olive-green leaves covered with an abundance of dark-pink flowers in June and July. 15cm (50cm spread). USDA 6a-9b.
Geranium. cinereum ‘Carol’
Another new Geranium. cinereum cultivar that starts blooming in June and continues on and off through the summer. Flowers best when given some shade from the midday sun. 15cm (25cm spread). USDA 4a-9b.
Geranium. nodosum ‘Clos de Coudray’
The flowers, with rosy-purple petals that are delicately edged in white, are held on wiry stems above the plant’s glossy foliage. Needs shady, woodland conditions. 25cm (35cm spread).
Geranium. wallichianum ‘Sylvia’s Surprise’
An eye-catching hardy geranium cultivar with vivid pink flowers that are up to 3.5cm wide and first appear in early summer and then sporadically until the end of autumn. Needs well-drained soil. 40cm. USDA 4a-8b.
Geranium. cinereum ‘Melody’
Of the recent Geranium. cinereum cultivars, this is the one with flowers closest to red. This hardy geranium foliage is evergreen and leaves have a silvery sheen. Flowers in May and is sporadic until September. 15cm. USDA 4a-9b.
Geranium. ‘Terre Franche’
Similar to ‘Philippe Vapelle’, which like this is bred from Geranium. renardii. Its grey-green, velvety leaves form an attractive dome, and the purple flowers have beautiful blue veins that are outlined in red. 50cm. USDA 5a-9b.
Geranium. ‘Sweet Heidy’
A new introduction that the breeders claim is the result of a quest to produce a plant to rival Geranium. Rozanne. The size and habit are similar to its competitor; flowers are lavender-blue. 50cm. USDA 5a-8b.
Geranium. ‘Fay Anna’
The new foliage on this hardy geranium emerges an unexpected pink-flushed gold and matures to an olive-green before becoming flaming red and bronze in the autumn. The pale lilac flowers appear from June to August. 30cm.
The blue background of the petals merges with purple veining and a pink hue at the base of the petals to create an unusual effect – not quite a rainbow but attractive nonetheless. 38cm. USDA 4a-8b.
‘Orion’ appeared in Holland in the late 1990s as a seedling from the popular G. ‘Brookside’. The luminous lavender-blue flowers are 5cm wide and cover the plant in June and then again in August. 80cm. RHS H7, USDA 3a-9b.
Words John Hoyland is a plantsman and former nursery owner.