Red Geraniums

Photo by: Vinson Motas / EyeEm

Vinson Motas / EyeEm

If you’re looking to add a splash of color to your spring or summer garden, there’s no doubt geraniums are a lovely choice. Walk into any plant center or nursery, and red geraniums are likely to line the shelves. You may even have fond memories of geraniums lining your grandmother’s porch while you were growing up or of seeing them fill summer-flower planters in your city or hometown. 

Did you know this type of geranium isn’t actually a geranium but rather a pelargonium? They are both members of the Geraniaceae family, however. While these plants may not be the naturally occurring geraniums, which are an herbaceous plant, these vibrant, full-bloomed versions have become a sort of emblem for geraniums — and red is their most popular color.

There are a number of reasons we have fallen in love with iconic red geraniums and enjoy planting them in beds and container gardens — and many of these reasons are related to their color. For instance, they bloom during the summer months, making them a perfect addition to American patriotic red-white-and-blue celebrations. What’s more, red is often a perfect complement to the neutral facades and exteriors of our homes, thus, creating an eye-catching display in the garden. 

Aside from the sheer beauty of their color, geraniums are relatively easy grow. They like a full sun to partial shade environment and moist but not overly wet soil. Allow the soil to dry in between your waterings to prevent root rot. You can fertilize your geraniums with a 20-20-20 water-soluble mixture every three to four weeks, being careful not to overfeed them. 

If you live in an apartment or condominium, or if you have limited yard space geraniums make excellent container garden plantings. What’s more containers can be a helpful way to overwinter your geraniums. Simply bring them indoors when temperatures begin to dip in the fall, place them in a location that receives plenty of sunlight, and care for them until its time for them to be placed outdoors again in the spring. 

Since red geraniums are such a popular plant for spring and summer gardens, there are a number of varieties available. For a classic choice, try ‘Americana Bright Red,’ which produces beautiful full-headed red blooms that will grow to be about 18-20 inches in height. ‘Designer Red’ is another traditional choice that will grow to approximately the same height, but will remain more compact than the ‘American Bright Red.’ For a deeper red hue, try ‘Daredevil Claret,’ which will continue to produce blooms throughout the summer months.   

It is worth noting that while red is the most traditional color, you will find this same flower available in white, a range of pinks and purples and salmon. This is all due in part to the work of breeders who have worked to expand the hues along with the overall appearance of the geranium.