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Why the Hatred for Geraniums?

Yesterday I participated in a Zoom session on Container Gardening. It was very informative.

But what I heard about geraniums was a surprise.

People hate geraniums.

Yet they were the Number One flower for the garden in the nineteenth century.

Brent Elliott gives some insight on the issue in his book Flora: An Illustrated History of the Garden Flower.

He writes, “The first true bedding pelargoniums appeared on the market in the early 1840s.

“For twenty years they shared the parterre garden with petunias, verbena, and calceolarias.

“As time passed, the pelargonium became the dominant single type of flower for dispay beds.”

No bed wold be worth it without a geranium like this one (Below):

Pelargonium grandiflora

Maybe we plant too many geraniums. We see them all over in the summer months.

After 200 years of featuring them in the flowerbed, maybe we need a change.

But it is, according to Elliott the ” First True Bedding Plant from the 19th Century.”

Here is one of my favorite summer geraniums [Pellargonium ‘Mrs. Cox’] a hybrid from Logee’s in Connecticut:

Geranium ‘Mrs. Cox’

Vick Sold Geraniums

Rochester, New York seed company owner James Vick (1818-1882) also loved geraniums.

Here is an image from his magazine Vick’s Illustrated Monthly of 1882.


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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. People often say they hate geraniums, but then again, there are still quite a few planted, and I suspect like many plants they will go in and out of style, so I would not write them off! (I remember for example in the 1980’s when blue hydrangeas were thought of by many as somewhat tacky!) My town has hanging baskets of ivy geraniums on the lampposts during the summer, and people do come into the nursery where I work looking for geraniums to repel mosquitoes fairly often. And red geraniums are always big sellers around the 4th of July. I do think the oldfashioned reddish orange geranium (now pelargonium) is not in great favor but people do seem to like the other shades such as peach or bright red.

    1. Hi Laura, I am sure geraniums sell well in your nursery. Everybody knows what they are and how they perform in the garden or container. For some reason I think that plants are in and out of fashion,as you suggest as well. Thanks.

  2. I don’t hate geraniums! There are some wonderful varieties out there. So, so pretty! When our local big box store has them, they sell out in a hurry. I do prefer the “other” pelargoniums–the scented geraniums. However, they do so well here that they will soon take over everything so growing them in a pot is probably best.
    I think people’s taste changes on a whim. Obviously, the person and people participating in that webinar have a bias against them. Too bad. Such beautiful colors and they are relatively easy to maintain.

    1. Debbie, thanks for responding to my geranium issue. Maybe the issue for some people is they just want something ‘different’? I agree that there are many wonderful features for this plant, including all the colors offered.

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