Wild Geraniums

Photo by: Art Wolfe

Art Wolfe

Botanical Name: Wild Geranium, spotted geranium, wood geranium (Geranium maculatum)

As the name suggests, you’re likely to find this plant in the wild along walking trails, in the woods, or on hillsides. Wild geranium is one of the most common terms for the plant; however you may also find it referred to as a spotted geranium or a wood geranium, which can be attributed to its appearance and growing site, respectively. It may also be called a cranesbill geranium, which comes from the bill-like shape of its capsule. 

Wild geraniums can be an ideal way to add pops of light pink or lavender to your garden. Thanks to the lush foliage, they will look as though they were sown there by nature. In fact, the lower leaves of the plants can grow on stalks that are as tall as two feet. Five-petal flowers comprise the blooms, giving them a sunny disposition.  

When to Plant and Bloom Time

If you’re planting from seed, you can put in the ground in late fall or early spring when the ground is not frozen or in threat of a freeze. Starter plants should be planted in spring with other annuals and perennials. You’ll find wild geraniums in bloom from mid- to late March through July, depending on the location and growing conditions. They usually bloom for approximately one month. You can try to deadhead them to prolong the bloom season; however, be forewarned that this can be a tedious and often unfruitful process.  

Where to Plant and Conditions

Wild geraniums are a native plant in the contiguous United States with a more pronounced presence in the eastern portion of the country. It thrives in zones 3 – 8. (If you’re unsure of your planting zone, visit planthardiness.ars.usda.gov to find more information.) With this widespread territory, it’s no surprise that they adapt to a variety of growing conditions — making them as versatile as they are charming. However, they prefer either full sun or partial shade environments to thrive. Although, be careful to protect against too much sun exposure, as this may cause the blooms of the wild geranium to fade from light purple into white or even yellow in more extreme cases. 

Care and Maintenance

After planting, keep your soil moist with a steady supply of water. Just as wild geraniums don’t like to become overheated in the sun, they prefer this type of soil rather than dry or overly wet soil in order to keep them performing at their peak.