If you love pelargoniums (often referred to as geraniums) and want to grow your own from seed, cuttings or plug plants, we’ve scoured the internet for helpful content. With advice on overwintering, taking cuttings and troubleshooting tips, these experienced garden bloggers have a wealth of knowledge to share. Here’s everything you need to know about growing pelargoniums.
In the meantime, browse our full range of geranium and pelargonium plants for inspiration.
This article was reviewed by the T&M horticultural team and updated on 19 January 2024.
Regal pelargoniums prefer a little midday shade
For a comprehensive overview of how to care for pelargoniums, look no further than Alexandra Uren’s excellent article for DIY Garden. Packed with information about the different types of pelargoniums including zonals, regals, ivy-leaved, angels, scented-leaved and unique varieties, her guide shares loads of helpful tips on how to grow these tender blooms. According to Alexandra, “most types of Pelargonium thrive in full sun, though zonal cultivars will tolerate some shade. Regal cultivars are the main exception, as they prefer partial shade, at least during the main heat of the day.” Alexandra is your go-to source for excellent, practical advice.
Pelargoniums are perfect for pots
If you’re new to growing zonal pelargoniums, Mandy Watson from MandyCanUDigIt recommends growing them in containers. Hers live outside in a sunny spot all summer, and when the first frosts are imminent, she cuts them back to overwinter in her conservatory and greenhouse. In March, Mandy simply increases watering and top-dresses the pots with fresh compost. Easy to look after, Mandy’s motto is “treat them mean to keep them keen”!
Choose Angel pelargoniums if you have dry soil
Pelargoniums come into their own in drought conditions, writes well-known garden designer Noel at his eponymous blog Noel Kingsbury. He recommends scented-leaf and Angel varieties for the best drought-tolerance. If you’re planting in dry soil, read all about his experiments with pelargoniums for a Portuguese dry garden. This is an excellent resource for anyone keen to evoke a scented Mediterranean landscape here in the UK.
Try pelargonium ‘Chocolate’ for a particularly splendid regal
For those whose thoughts are turning to which zonal pelargoniums (geraniums) to grow next season, head over to Gardens, Weeds and Words where you’ll find plenty of inspiration in Andrew O’Brien’s review of pelargoniums. He recommends ‘Chocolate’, ‘Lord Bute’, and species type ‘Pelargonium sidoides’, among others. Andrew wasn’t a fan of geraniums as a child, but has since developed something of a fascination for them – his enthusiasm will soon have you hooked too.
Pelargoniums are a good choice for tiny gardens
Do you live in an urban landscape with little space for growing? Over at Mr Plant Geek, Michael Perry presents a fresh take on how to grow geraniums in the city, describing the Zetter townhouse installation, ‘Geraniums at the door’, (part of the 2018 garden festival Chelsea Fringe) as a “chance to look at geraniums anew.” Here you’ll also find out why pelargoniums are a natural insect repellent and how they’re used in traditional South African medicine.
If space is an issue, don’t overwinter cheaper zonal varieties
It’s because the genus Pelargonium is native to warm, sunny South Africa that it needs such careful overwintering, says Tejvan at Gardeners Tips. If you’re searching for helpful advice on how best to protect your favourite plants from the ravages of Jack Frost, check out Tejvan’s article on overwintering geraniums. If space is an issue, he says “zonal Geraniums are going to be cheap and plentiful next year… they may be the ones to sacrifice.”
Prune pelargoniums to prepare for overwintering
Katrina from @homegrown.garden prepares her pelargoniums for overwintering in her house by removing lots of the leaves and giving the plants a prune. She says that this helps to get rid of any aphids and pests, and maintains airflow around the plants “so they’re less likely to succumb to mildew and fungal problems.” And she saves the pruned material to strike new plants. Watch her story on Insta for more pelargonium tips.
Remove all but one leaf when taking cuttings
If you’re about to go somewhere and you need a quick present, Arthur from @arthurparkinson_ suggests taking some quick pelargonium cuttings for a lovely homemade gift! If you want to know how to do it, watch his mini-tutorial video on Insta. Make sure you remove all but one leaf, he says, to reduce water loss, and pinch out the growing tip to encourage it to root. Follow Arthur, aka Chicken Boy for info on flowers, hens, bees, flamingoes and more!
Learn how to clone regal Pelargoniums
If you’d like to watch while someone who really knows what they’re doing shows you how to take a cutting from a Regal Pelargonium, David Taylor (aka Mr Pelargonium) is the man for you. A member of The Pelargonium and Geranium Society, David is an expert on cloning pelargoniums. The trick, he says, is keeping part of the stem attached to your cutting to make sure you get plenty of growth hormone. Do take a moment to watch his video as he demonstrates on one of the plants from his own collection.
Make your own scented bath salts
If you love the fragrance of geraniums, you’ll enjoy Poppy’s insta video over @poppyokotcha showing how to make your own bath salts using lavender, geranium, and other favourite essential oils. A great way to enjoy geraniums even when they’re overwintering in the greenhouse, these bath salts are super easy to make, and a wonderful way to enjoy the scent of summer as you enjoy a soak in the tub.
Use scented pelargonium leaves for syrups and cocktails
Over at @ourcourtyardgarden, Matthew and Dan use scented Pelargonium leaves to make sensational sundowners! The first step was to add the highly fragrant foliage to a jar of sugar and allow it to infuse for two weeks. Then they turned their lemon and rose-scented treat into a simple syrup to jazz up gin cocktails. Follow them on Insta for more fun tips.
Discover the fascinating history of pelargoniums
Learn how the first Pelargonium arrived in America, why the Great Fire of London made it a popular windowsill plant in Great Britain, and how Charles Dickens showed his love for ‘scarlet geraniums’ by wearing a bloom in his jacket buttonhole for public readings. In a fascinating article written by Garden History Girl, Paula, she explains all this, and more. Read her full article for a unique insight into this beautiful bloom.
Geraniums are so much more than annual bedding plants – no wonder they’ve been a staple of the UK gardening scene for over 300 years. If you’re looking for even more information on growing pelargoniums, visit our dedicated hub page.
Expert contributor list
- Alexandra Uren, Experienced horticulturist.
- Mandy Watson, Freelance journalist, specialist gardening copywriter, Garden Media Guild and NUJ member.
- Noel Kingsbury, Garden designer, writer, lecturer, consultant.
- Andrew O’Brien, Gardener, blogger, podcaster, gardening coach.
- Michael Perry, National Diploma in Horticulture, TV presenter, author, gardening content creator, podcaster.
- Tejvan Pettinger, Gardeners Tips writer.
- Katrina Harrison, Gardener, YouTube content creator, and blogger.
- Arthur Parkinson, Gardener, writer, author, ‘henfluencer’.
- David Taylor, Pelargonium Specialist, hybridiser, grower, showman. Youtube broadcaster for the Pelargonium Society.
- Poppy Okotcha, Ecological home grower, forager and home cook, trained in horticulture and permaculture.
- Matthew and Dan, Gardening content creators.
- Paula, Masters in Garden History, blogger.
Sophie Essex is a freelance garden writer with a passion for horticulture and environmental conservation. With a BSc in Botany/Plant Biology from the University of Plymouth, she further honed her expertise through a Masters of Science in Biodiversity and Taxonomy of Plants from The University of Edinburgh.
Sophie has also worked as a professional gardener and landscaper, showcasing her practical skills by transforming outdoor spaces. Her commitment to fieldwork is further evident in her acquisition of a Certificate in Field Botany from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, and over the years, she has interned at the Eden Project, Cornwall, the National Trust for Scotland and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. Find more information about Sophie over at LinkedIn.