Pelargonium types made simple: how to choose the perfect plants for your garden

We all need a pick-me-up right now, and there is no better antidote to the anxiety of the pandemic than looking forward to spectacular borders, containers and hanging baskets for 2021 that promise to set our gardens ablaze with colour and fragrance throughout next sumer.

There is no need, however, to search high and low for the gardening world’s hardest-working muti-tasker – a plant that flowers profusely whether you have green fingers or have never dabbled at gardening before. Pelargoniums are, put simply, the answer to gardeners’ prayers – offering one of the longest seasons of colour, resistance to pests and weather extremes and brilliant repeat-flowering performance. Widely available from garden centres and nurseries, pelargoniums are unrivalled in their ability to create a Mediterranean holiday-style atmosphere at home; a real bonus in a year when travel may once again be off the cards due to the global crisis.

With so many types and styles to choose from, the choice can appear bewildering to the novice. But there is no need to be baffled by pelargonium jargon, as help is at hand from the experts at Pelargonium for Europe. Simply follow our guide to some of the most commonly sold categories and it’s easy to identify types that will provide many months of enjoyment. Check out our guide to choosing pelargoniums for a show-stopping, summer-long display of dazzling foliage and flowers.



Zonal pelargoniums are a stalwart of summer borders and containers. Tough, dependable, drought-resistant and unbeatable for summer-long flower power, zonals form upright, bushy plants that are renowned for slug-resistance, blooming in a host of shades from hot reds to vibrant whites, as well as subtle tones of pink and salmon – with single, semi-double and double-flowered varieties widely available. Not only do zonal pelargoniums represent remarkable value for money, but they promise to put on a long show of flowers whether summer’s a scorcher or a washout, and come in a host of foliage shades, from light to dark green. They’re a top choice for planting en-masse in bedding schemes and for creating containers that’ll be a riot of colour all season.


No hanging basket, window box or container is complete without trailing plants, and they don’t get better than beautiful cascading ivy-leaved types (the term ‘ivy-leaved’ is simply a reference to the shape of their fleshy leaves, which bear a close resemblance to the foliage of this traditional climber). While ivy has long been used to soften the edges of planters and containers, and hide the framework of hanging baskets, ivy-leaved pelargoniums have the added bonus of being available in a plethora of colours that guarantee tumbling displays of blooms as well as foliage. They give baskets and pots longevity, flowering their socks off late into the season – long after other summer bedding favourites have given up the ghost.




Regal pelargoniums are the ones to go for if you want to get your garden off to a flying start, as plants can burst into bloom earlier than zonal types – and they’ll carry on with the spectacle right through the season. As their name suggests, regals are showy, statuesque plants, known for their ruffled flowers that come in a diverse array of shades, ranging from white and pink to dark tones of mauve. Although plants are mostly single-flowered, stunning bicolour shades are available, for example, exquisite red-and-white blooms or intricate flowers sporting maroon upper and pink lower petals, making regals a top choice for creating stand-out, attention-grabbing garden features.


Savouring floral fragrance is one of the joys of summer but the delight of perfume isn’t limited to flowers. Scented-leaf pelargoniums add a new dimension to aromatic planting, offering a host of fragrances from citrus to lemon and rose. These delicious scents will be at their most intense where plants are allowed to bask in sunlight, and although scented varieties can produce smaller flowers than other types, plants pack a punch with their fragrance, with a wide choice of foliage styles from variegated to lobed that suit every planting taste. To make the most of these summertime stars, plant close to outdoor dining areas and savour the scent while enjoying warm evenings outdoors.




Angel pelargoniums are the ones to choose if you’re looking for a smaller version of regal types. Compact, bushy and cheerful, they’re a perfect fit in situations where space is limited, such as hanging baskets and smaller containers, with darker markings on flowers’ upper petals resembling the characteristic blooms of the much loved pansy and viola. As angel types flower profusely (dead-head regularly to keep flowers coming) they’re as popular with home gardeners as they are with enthusiasts who grow to exhibit at shows. Some even feature aromatic leaves, while angels are always a winner in mixed planting schemes.