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Sun Lovers

by Geranium expert Linda Scott, Linda Scott Hardy Plants

I once heard a TV gardening ‘expert’ say that all Hardy Geraniums grow in dry shade. This is far from the truth though some do thrive in those conditions such as Geranium macrorrhizum and Geranium nodosum. Many Geraniums are very adaptable and will tolerate full sun or part shade, but others are true sun worshippers.

You can usually recognise these from their foliage which tends to be either silvery, finely divided or on the small side, a couple of exceptions being Geranium maderense and Geranium palmatum which have huge succulent leaves.

Our native Geranium sanguineum in its many varieties likes the sun and when grown in the garden seems able to withstand drought but in pots, I find it can suffer from mildew if allowed to dry out too much.

On the other hand, Geranium renardii really enjoys a dry, poor soil in full sun and has fairly large white flowers with purple veins and rounded leaves with a sage like texture.

Both Geranium harveyi and Geranium robustum are from South Africa and have very attractive silvery leaves and pink flowers, the former being short and spreading and the latter taller, about 60cm / 2ft and quite woody. Despite their origin they seem quite hardy as long as they are kept dry in full sun.

For the front of a dry sunny border or well drained pots and troughs are the dwarf types such as the spring and early summer flowering Geranium dalmaticum, and the many varieties of Geranium cinereum such as G. c. ‘Laurence Flatman’ which have very large flowers for the size of the plants and bloom for a long period in the summer.

One sun lover that I wish was easier to grow is Geranium traversii var. elegans from the Chatham Islands, East of New Zealand. I managed to keep it for a short time many years ago, but it isn’t really hardy in the U.K. which is a shame as it has pale pink flowers that look as if they are made of icing sugar and leaves that are slightly hairy, giving them a silvery sheen. G. traversii has crossed with Geranium endressii producing the x riversleaianum hybrids such as G. x riversleaianum ‘Russell Prichard. It has also hybridised with the tiny dark leaved Geranium sessiliflorum whose offspring all have the name x antipodeum such as G. x antipodeum ‘Chocolate Candy’ which has inherited its parent’s dark leaves.

Oh well, I shouldn’t complain about not being able to grow G. traversii as there are so many other lovely Geraniums to enjoy. May try again one day though.

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Contact Details for Linda Scott: email: linda.s@hotmail.co.uk

All text and images © Linda Scott 2023 used by kind permission

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