Geraniums are bedding plants that are planted in the spring for vibrant summer color that can last well into fall. There are many different hybrids of geraniums and more than 400 species. These vary by bloom and leaf colors and styles as well as growing habits (some geraniums are trailing plants, perfect for planting in containers or baskets, while other varieties grow tall and straight). Different types of geraniums even have different scents. Although their looks can vary widely, all geraniums have the same basic parts.
Geraniums have split roots, which are the same roots found on most bedding plants. These roots branch out beneath the stem and are covered with tiny, fine "root hairs" that seek out nutrients and water molecules from the soil. In a container, the roots can grow together and become entangled with each other, creating a dense "root ball" that should be loosened before planting or re-potting.
The stalk is the stem of the plant. It is called a stalk rather than a stem, however, because each stalk can hold more than one flower "head", whereas stems are usually thought of as supporting a single flower. The stalk of the geranium can be quite tall (up to eight inches). In trailing (sometime called ivy) geraniums, a vine replaces the stalk. This vine can grow up to 3 feet and produce many flowering heads.
Geranium leaves look quite different from plant to plant. Some geraniums have very lacy leaves, which look almost like ferns or the graceful tops of carrots. Others have leaves that look like ivy leaves. The common garden geranium features heart-shaped, variegated leaves in shades of green, white, silver and light green.
Geraniums have flower "heads", which feature clusters of brilliantly colored, small blooms. The flowers come in a lot of different colors, from pale pink and white to brilliant orange, yellow, red, and salmon. The Orbit series alone comes in 17 different shades.
Fruit and Seed
Geraniums have a unique fruit structure nicknamed a "cranesbill". This beak-shaped fruit protects and nurtures the seed of the flower until it is ripe. When the seed is mature, the "beak" opens and the seed is projected into the air. There are five seeds in each capsule. In some species, the capsule does not look like a crane's bill.