Asked May 4, 2017, 5:36 PM EDT

what is the difference between seed geraniums and other kinds? What are the other kinds?

Martin County Minnesota

1 Response

There are four types of plants commonly sold as annual geraniums: zonal, ivy-leaf, regal and scented-leaf. Zonal geraniums can be propagated by tissue cuttings or by seeds. The ones sold as seed geraniums are seed-propagated types of zonal geraniums.

Seed geraniums are usually more compact versions of zonal geraniums and are often the cheapest option. Varieties differ, but they usually have lots of three to four inch flower heads. Most grow about a foot tall and wide. They are a great option for a mass planting.

Zonal geraniums’ flower heads can be up to six inches across and, unlike seed geraniums, often have double flowers. But, they usually don’t have as many flowers as the seed varieties. The zonal plants grow more upright and can be up to 18 inches tall. As new varieties are developed you will see fewer differences between the seed and tissue-propagated zonal varieties.

There are two new kinds of zonals that you may see in garden centers. Look for stellar and fancy–leaf varieties for something different.

Ivy-leaf geraniums have waxy leaves that, well, look like ivy. They trail and are great in hanging baskets.

Regal geraniums, such as Martha Washington, are commonly sold as houseplants. They need cool nights to flower.

Scented leaf varieties flower, but not as impressively as other types. They are grown for the leaves, which can smell like roses, lemons, apples or mints. There is one that smells like citronella and is supposed to repel mosquitoes, but there is no proof that it works.

To confuse things a little more, these plants are called geraniums but are actually pelargoniums. Pelargoniums can be overwintered indoors or grown as a houseplant. True geraniums, sometimes called hardy geraniums or cranesbills, are tough plants that can be planted outside and, depending on the variety, are hardy down to zone three. Like pelargoniums, they have scented leaves and are usually ignored by deer. They don’t have the big balls of flowers like zonal pelargoniums, but are a great addition to our gardens.