NANCY SZERLAG

Gardening: Hardy, flowering geraniums can be easy to grow

Nancy Szerlag
Special to The Detroit News

When it comes to flowering plants at the OPC senior center display garden in Rochester, we depend mostly on annuals to keep the color coming throughout the season.  However, shrubs that flower and/or produce interesting leaf color and texture are also part of the mix. And some perennials have also made the cut. Easy care and long bloom time are musts for any of these characters to be included. 

Geranium 'Rozanne'  keeps  blooming  from late spring into mid-fall.

This year, I’ve chosen the hardy geranium “Rozanne” to  fill the bill in an area that doesn’t get  a lot of attention. 

If given the right conditions, the hardy, flowering geraniums, also known as cranesbills, are considered to be easy to grow. They are not picky about soil. Soggy, poorly drained,  however, is the kiss of death.  Depending on the variety, hardy geraniums prefer part sun (four  to six hours) to full sun  (six hours plus) but baking hot afternoon sun may be an issue. If you’re a true  shade gardener, there are a few varieties that will grow in the dark. 

 Of the hundreds of species and hybrids available, for me, the  award -winning G. ‘Rozanne’ stands out for its large flower size and blue-purple color, an extended bloom time and attractive foliage. 

Rarely troubled by diseases, the best news is they are said to be deer and rabbit resistant. That’s a must.

Winner of the Perennial Plant Association plant of the year of 2011, it continues to be a top seller with landscapers as well as home gardeners.  

Be aware that ‘Rozanne’ needs her space, as she as she can reach 24 inches or more in height and up to 4 feet in width, so be sure to give her some room to grow

“Rozanne’ is a sterile variety so to propagate it, it must be divided. If it does get leggy or  there is a lag in bloom about midsummer, shear it back to about 4 inches to whip it into shape. To attract pollinators to the area, I’ll include some flowering annuals in the same bed.

If you think ‘Rozanne' is not popular check her personal website:   https://www.geraniumrozanne.com/about-geranium-rozanne/growing-rozanne/  You can also find her on Instagram and sign up  on her blog.

By the way,  if you’re a new gardener, don’t confuse the hardy geranium with the tender plants grown as annuals whose Latin name is Pelargonium, but is commonly called  geranium.  You won’t find hardy cranesbills in the annual department of your garden shop. 

Nancy Szerlag is a master gardener and a Metro Detroit freelance writer. Her column appears Fridays in Homestyle. To ask her a question go to Yardener.com and click on Ask Nancy. You can also read her previous columns at detroitnews.com/homestyle.