Summer darlings

Geraniums are easy, forgiving, and versatile

Summer darlings

Ivy geraniums spill from rooftop planters in Manhattan Beach, California.

Steven Gunther

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Like your best pals, geraniums are cheerful, easygoing, and non-temperamental. They let you enjoy their company without making outrageous demands. Like true friends, they hang in there, even if you neglect them.

Many geraniums bear showy flowers. Some flaunt exceptionally colorful foliage. And the leaves of scented types delight our noses with aromas of lemon, mint, and rose.

Geraniums are also very versatile plants. Most kinds look good in pots. Cascading types, like ivy geraniums, are especially attractive trailing from hanging baskets and window boxes. Scented geraniums make fine summer guests in herb gardens.

Before we go any further, let's clear up the botanical confusion. The plants we're discussing here are properly called pelargoniums. When Dutch and English explorers came across these plants in South Africa in the 1700s and introduced them to Europe, botanists originally classified them as geraniums. Later, they were moved to the genus Pelargonium. But to most of us, they will always be geraniums.



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