A wooden crate filled with bright orange and red geraniums, fresh from the nursery in the foreground, and two people sitting at an outdoor table chatting in the background, out of focus.

Buying geraniums: the ultimate checklist for the best quality

Overwhelmed by the large selection of summer flowers? Buy geraniums if you are looking for a hardy, easy-care and rewarding balcony planting. From mid-April, you can find this queen of summer flowers in nurseries and garden centres everywhere.

Overwhelmed by the large selection of summer flowers? Buy geraniums if you are looking for a hardy, easy-care and rewarding balcony planting. From mid-April, you can find this queen of summer flowers in nurseries and garden centres everywhere. 

With our tips, you’re sure to find the best geraniums for your balcony and enjoy extra-large blooms all summer long! Our handy little guide will help you make the right choice. 

Check 1: Plant quality

Look for plants that have so many leaves on strong stems that you can barely see the soil in the pot. Bushy geraniums with strong shoots have been given enough time by the grower to develop into healthy plants. In addition to foliage, these plants will also have a well-developed root ball. You need both to ensure the geraniums on your balcony continue to grow immediately. 

Check 2: Bud density

If you want to quickly transform your balcony or patio into a blossoming dream, your geraniums need to have lots of buds. Why? Because geraniums are light-sensitive plants. They collect the sun’s rays and only start to flower when a certain level is reached. If you have specimens with very few buds, you have no choice but to wait and hope for plenty of sun in the coming weeks. 

Check 3: Pot size

Choose geraniums in the size that best matches your planting idea. The volume of the root ball is the deciding factor, as it will ultimately go into the soil. 

  • 11-12cm pot: ideal for planting in balcony boxes Plants in nursery pots of this size have enough root mass to get going straight away. And they still fit well in standard flower boxes, which are often no wider than 17-18cm. We explain how to plant a balcony box here.
  • 13cm or more: good for larger containers  
  • If you want to plant containers, it’s better to use XL geraniums in nursery pots with a diameter of 13cm or more. They will look great right from the start. 
  • 6-packs: generally not recommended  
  • Only buy geraniums in 6-packs or in pots less than 10.5cm diameter if you want to put a lot of time and love into nurturing them. They have had little time to grow before they are sold. It will easily be a few weeks before they reach the developmental stage of larger plants. 

Check 4: When to buy

In the UK, greenhouses fill up with outdoor geraniums from early to mid-April. You’ll find the largest selection of geranium varieties at the beginning of May. Different growth habits and different colours: You can draw on the full range of colours at this time. Don’t buy your plants too early if you can’t protect them well from the cold. 

Frau schiebt, auf der Straße gehend, ein Fahrrad mit Korb voller lachsfarbener Geranien vor sich her.

Check 5: Temperature level

Geraniums should only be planted outdoors permanently when there’s no longer a risk of night frosts. In the UK, this is around mid-May. It doesn’t even need to freeze for the plants to be damaged. Even temperatures below 5°C can cause a growth pause. Find out how to protect your plants from the weather here. 

Tip: Remember potting compost!

While you’re at your local garden centre, buy some new potting compost. Fresh, good quality soil has been pre-fertilised, holds many times its own weight in water and retains its structure throughout the season. 

Soil that already smells musty in the bag; is affected by mould; and/or has fungus gnats flying around when you reach into the bag, is not suitable. Unrotted twigs and plastic waste also have no place in good potting compost. 

You will need about 30 litres of compost for an 80cm balcony box and about 4 litres for a pot with a 20cm diameter. 

Frequently asked questions and our answers

How many geraniums do I need?

• 40cm box: 🪴🪴
• 60cm box: 🪴🪴🪴
• 80-100cm box: 🪴🪴🪴🪴
• Pot < 20cm diameter: 🪴
• Pot > 20cm diameter: 🪴🪴 or more

Rosa Geranien in grauem Pflanztropf vor weißem Hintergrund.

Which geraniums to plant

Upright geraniums (Pelargonium zonale) 

with their bright balls of flowers are ideal for flower beds and pots. They grow bushy and reach a height of 25-40 cm. 

Lachsfarbene Geranie in weißem Topf vor weißem Hintergrund.

Trailing geraniums (Pelargonium peltatum) 

can be planted in containers, balcony boxes or as ground cover in flower beds. Interspecific geraniums are special crosses between trailing geraniums and upright geraniums, and are especially weather-resistant and grow extra vigorously. 

 Interspecific geraniums 

 are usually grown in pots. Their flowers are not particularly exciting, but their foliage has a pleasant scent of lemon, mint, rose or even chocolate. The flowers and leaves of scented geraniums, which are edible, make homemade lemonade taste fantastic and give salads extra flavour. Scented geraniums have a bushy habit, so if you want them to grow compactly, prune them back regularly. 

Regal pelargonium (Pelargonium grandiflorum) 

unlike other varieties of geranium, like to be kept in a bright spot indoors. They have fantastically beautiful, extra-large flowers. You can tell Regal pelargoniums by the slightly jagged edges of their foliage. They grow upright and compact and are sometimes also called “English geraniums”. 

Find out more about these and other species, such as ornamental leaf geraniums and butterfly geraniums, in the post “Geranium diversity without borders”. 

No matter which you choose: We recommend geraniums with single flowers if the location is very exposed. 

Where to plant geraniums?

The more light geraniums get, the more magnificently they flower. The ideal location is sunny to semi-shady. They can also tolerate full midday sun. 

How to care for geraniums

 Geraniums are very hardy and easy to care for. They actually thrive and flower almost by themselves. Regular watering, fertilisation and deadheading of flowers and leaves – then nothing will stand in the way of pretty geraniums so you can enjoy the flowers from May to October. 

Geranium care

 Geraniums are a stroke of luck for anyone who doesn’t yet have green fingers. They are forgiving of mistakes in care and thrive almost on their own. In our article “7 golden rules for geranium care”, learn how to quickly bring visible success and lots of colour to your balcony.   

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