Gardening

A can’t kill Seattle plant that works well in containers

The standout in Seattle gardens as the low maintenance plant that blooms until frost, the plant that provides an array of color, the plant that loves the sun, and the plant that requires little watering during the hot summer days is the geranium. Typically this is the zonal geranium, which has a darker ring on the foliage, a fully double blossom and it comes in all colors except true blue or black. The Americana varieties of zonal geraniums are the tallest growing and the Tango varieties are shorter and more compact.

Included in the geranium  family of plants are the scented geraniums whose foliage gives a nice fragrance to the garden and are available in chocolate mint, staghorn rose, old spice, ginger, peppermint, pineapple and more.   The fancy-leaved or novelty geraniums bring out the rich leaf colors and wonderful floral textures. Used often as an accent plant in containers because the foliage is generally variegated. The Persian Queen fancy geranium is totally lime colored and a real standout in the garden. The blooms are usually smaller but add to the total impact and are easy to grow, thriving in hot sun and dry soils.

Nurseries in the Seattle area typically carry:

Zonal Geraniums – Pelargonium x hortorum is the common geranium. This plant is compact in habit and often has fancy leaves marked by distinct bands of darker color, or tri-colored leaves, or leaves with silver or white markings. Flowers may be single or double, are clustered into heads, and may range from red, pink, salmon, and white.

Scented-Leafed Geraniums – These Pelargonium varieties small of rose, lemon, nutmeg, apple and peppermint, just to name a few. They also have a wide range of foliage types that can be used for making potpourris, sachets, and tea flavorings. Scented geraniums make excellent houseplants, and many have soft, finely textured visually pleasing foliage and small blossoms.

Martha Washington Geranium –  Pelargonium x domesticum is also known as a “Regal Geranium.” They have large azalea-like flowers with dramatic colors and patterns- some are dark enough to appear black. This is where you’ll find truly purple flowers among geraniums types.

Ivy-Leafed Geraniums – Pelargonium peltatum is the ivy-leaved geranium. It has a vine-like growth habit with smooth, leathery leaves and flowers with narrower petals and less dense flower heads.  It is commonly used in window boxes and is quite attractive in hanging baskets.

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