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Geranium (jer-ray-nee-um), Cranesbill, are robust perennials (plus annuals and biennials) with roundish, deeply lobed leaves and small but airily effective flowers. Geraniums are easily grown in partial shade and ordinary garden soil.

With over 400 species and hybrids, hardy geraniums are low-maintenance plants, easy to grow and provide a wide selection of colors. All have palmate leaves, 5-petaled flowers, and seed pods shaped like a crane's bill. Hardy cranesbill could be tall, shrubby plants, or ground covers; most species are slow growing though some are considered invasive spreaders. Some will sow seedlings; others are best propagated by division.

One of the most reliable plants in the home garden. Geraniums will grow in almost any type of soil, if well-drained. Heavy clay soils should be improved by adding organic matter each year, add coarse sphagnum peat moss, partially-rotted manure, or compost as most geraniums prefer average to rich, moist, but very well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Many varieties are somewhat drought tolerant, but not particularly heat tolerant, so afternoon shade is often recommended in warmer zones. In too much shade, however, its habit will be less compact and fewer flowers will be produced. Carefree once established, if flowers diminish, summer heat wilts them or they just need a trim, cut or sheared back plant to rejuvenate, shape or encourage additional bloom.

Blooms usually emerge in May or June, and can last through fall. If flower production fades in hot summers, foliage can be sheared to start a new flush of foliage and blooms.

Though Cranesbill will adapt to a variety of growing conditions, it prefers moist, organic, well-drained soil, it will also tolerate periods of drought once established. Cranesbill will grow in full sun or part shade.

Easy to grow, use as border plants, containers, and in mass plantings. Hardy geraniums are wonderful filler plants for any landscape, either residential or commercial. They blend nicely with most other perennials and offer continuous color throughout the summer months. Geraniums are generally considered pest free; deer and rabbit resistant.

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