Our plant of the month is the hardy geranium, or cranesbill. It's not to be confused with bedding geraniums, or pelargonium. Hardy geraniums are generally tough perennials and will tolerate a wide range of growing conditions to provide colour year after year. They’re very dependable, making them great value performers.
Geranium ‘Rozanne’ was awarded Chelsea plant of the centenary. Rozanne is fast growing and soon fills borders with fantastic foliage cover – great for keeping the weeds down. It flowers from May through to as late as November. The large flowers are a pretty violet blue with a white centre flecked with pink.
Geranium phaeum ‘Samabor’ grows to 80cm tall, and has rich purple flowers. It’s a useful variety to grow under trees, where many flowering plants won’t tolerate the dry and shade.
Hardy geraniums can also be small and delicate, such as the Geranium ‘Ballerina’. It has pink-veined papery flowers over a compact mound of foliage. Hardy geraniums are usually single flowers, but a few are double. Look out for Geranium ‘Laura’, which is a pretty white double.
They are drought tolerant, so they need less watering and are better able to thrive during dry spells. Mix with other drought-tolerant plants, such as lamb’s ear and saxifrage. Hardy geraniums also look lovely with cottage plants. Avoid putting them in areas that become waterlogged. They still need to be watered in when you plant them, and kept watered until established and during very dry spells. By planting during rainy times of year, you can cut down on the need for initial watering.
Hardy geraniums cope with less attention than other plants, giving you more time to enjoy the garden and making them our very worthy plant of the month.