Geraniums, or pelargoniums, can often be found in hanging baskets, flower beds, and sometimes landscaping throughout the spring, summer, and fall months.
Geranium flowers are a popular choice due to their vibrant colors, aromatic scent, long bloom times, and low-maintenance requirements.
These brightly colored flowers are grown as annuals—meaning they will only last for one season—in most parts of the country; however, they can be grown as tender perennials in zones 10 and 11. In the United States, the most common places to find geraniums are in hanging baskets, pots, and flower beds.
There are many types of geraniums you can grow, including oak leaf geranium, true geraniums, ivy geranium, horseshoe geranium, scented geranium, and others. Beyond that, there are also many geranium flower color options to choose from – including red geranium flowers, purple geraniums, and others.
With so many flower colors to choose from, you might be wondering whether these popular flowers hold any meaning – and can be used in your backyard garden.
While it’s not unheard of, geraniums are not commonly used in landscaping since they don’t come back year after year.
Nevertheless, the geranium flower is a great addition to any garden – and understanding the geranium flower’s meaning and symbolism is a great way to add deeper meaning to your garden.
What is Geranium Known For?
Not only is the geranium known for its bright colors, fragrant flowers, long blooming season, and low-maintenance, but it also has several secondary uses that lend to its popularity.
One lesser-known thing that geraniums are known for is their use in making certain perfumes. The strong fragrance of the geranium is also present in the oils that are extracted from them.
These oils are used as an ingredient in many different types of perfume to add a flowery and sometimes soap-like scent. The rose geranium is most commonly used when it comes to making perfume.
Pelargonium has also been known to treat or aid in the healing of many different ailments. In some cases, raw geranium leaves are used for treatments; in others, the oils are extracted to be used as ointments or put in a diffuser for use as aromatherapy.
It should be mentioned that no medical applications of the geranium have been specifically researched; however, there is no evidence of harm being caused by appropriate use either. It is always best to check with your doctor before attempting to treat any ailment or condition.
There are various treatments for which geraniums are known to be used. Some of the most common include bruising, skin infections (such as acne), swelling, bacterial infections, menopausal symptoms, anxiety, depression, allergies, and even neurodegenerative diseases—the list goes on and on.
Although no research has specifically tested the medical effectiveness of geraniums, there is a scientifically-based hypothesis that might explain why anecdotal claims exist. The leaves on the geranium contain small amounts of dimethylamylamine, a stimulant used in certain medications—geraniums are actually the only known natural source of dimethylamylamine; it is usually created synthetically.
The oil that comes from geraniums also contains citronellol, citronellyl acetate, citronellyl formate, and geraniol, giving it the potential for antibacterial and antifungal properties. As previously mentioned, the medical uses for geranium are not scientifically tested, but there is some scientific background that supports their use.
Again, check with your doctor before treating any ailment.
Lastly—and perhaps the most important if you ask me—is the geranium’s ability to repel mosquitoes and other pesky insects. Since geranium plants contain citronellol—a primary component that makes up citronella—insects have been known to steer clear of the plant.
Keeping some geranium flowers around your porch or outdoor seating area may help aid in your efforts to avoid bug bites.
How to Identify Geranium
One of the first things you’ll notice when trying to identify a geranium in bloom is that the flowers form in a round cluster, making them appear as large, singular flower heads that are around four to six inches across. In reality, each flower is only about an inch to an inch and a half across with a total of five petals each.
Another way to identify a geranium is by its leaves. The leaves on a geranium plant are often rounded, with small indents on the edges. Sometimes they are referred to as “hand-shaped” although they are closer to the shape and size of a cat’s paw.
Each leaf is approximately two to four inches in length, and they grow densely along with the rest of its foliage. When the leaves are rubbed or crushed, a scent sometimes described as spicy will be released.
Overall, these plants will generally be anywhere from one to two feet in height when at maturity as they grow upwards. In flower baskets and other arrangements, geranium plants are often grown in clusters together, making the plant seem larger than it really is.
What is The Meaning of Geranium Flower?
As with many flowers, there is meaning attached to the geranium. As a general rule, geraniums are correlated with happy events, and they are often given as gifts of love and friendship. Different types and colors of geranium flowers can represent different things.
Let’s take a closer look at geranium flower’s meaning and symbolism based on geranium flower color.
What Do Pink Geraniums Mean?
Pink geranium flowers are often associated with romance, femininity, and motherly love. The gentle colors of the pink geranium imply a softer, more gentle love. The pink geranium flower may make a great Mother’s Day gift, or as a gift to another important female in your life.
What Do Scarlet Geraniums Symbolize?
The scarlet, or red geranium flower—when given as a gift—often implies a more passionate and romantic love. The deep red color is meant to imply a deeper love, such as one might have with a spouse. Therefore, the red geranium flower may be most appropriately given to a spouse, life partner, or girlfriend/boyfriend.
Red geraniums are perhaps some of the most common of all scented geraniums, so another benefit of this type of geranium flower is that it’s relatively easy to find in stores.
What Does the Purple Geranium Flower Mean?
The purple geranium is associated with feelings of admiration—not necessarily love—towards an individual. One may gift purple geranium flowers to someone they appreciate, or as a classy housewarming gift to a friend or colleague. These flowers have also been known as symbols of nobility and sophistication, also making them appropriate gifts in many different situations.
What Do White Geraniums Represent?
As is common with white flowers, the white geranium flower represents purity, often correlated with innocence, spirituality, and fertility. As a bonus, white flowers have also been given as protector plants, known for their ability to repel pests such as snakes and insects.
In addition, white geraniums are commonly used for weddings, but they may also be appropriate for an everyday gift towards a friend or family member.
What Does the Lemon Geranium Represent?
The lemon geranium is a variety of geranium whose leaves—when rubbed or crushed—give off a lemon scent. This variety of geranium is supposed to represent an unexpected meeting. This may be a friend who stopped by unexpectedly for a quick visit, or maybe a new neighbor who stopped by to welcome themselves.
Traditionally, a lemon geranium is an appropriate gift for one of these unexpected visitors. However, unlike in the old days, announced visitors are often more appreciated in modern times than those who are unannounced.
What Do Wild Geraniums Represent?
There is a lot of symbolism surrounding wild geraniums. These flowers represent a variety of things such as peace, joy, love, spirituality, good health, and fertility. Wild geraniums could make an appropriate gift for nearly any occasion where good spirits and/or friendship are involved.
Geraniums Cultural and Historical Significance
Now that you know the geranium flower symbolism, let’s take a closer look at geranium flower meanings throughout history.
Most varieties of geraniums are native to South Africa, although there are some that originated in Australia and the Mediterranean where these flowers can also grow naturally. Geraniums are said to have been introduced to Europe in the 17th century and to the United States in the late 18th century.
While geraniums symbolize a general positive outcome and feeling today—as they have for a majority of their history—there was a time when these flowers were not as highly regarded. In the Victorian era (approximately 1837-1901), geraniums began to represent negative things such as stupidity and being child-like (with a bad connotation).
Flower symbolism was strongly applied and believed in this era; therefore, the simplicity of the geranium flower heads and petals led some to believe they were simple plants, meant for more simple-minded people. The bright, vibrant colors were also looked down upon as childish and gaudy.
In particular, the purple—or magenta—geranium was looked down upon during the end of the Victorian era. The eye-catching color was thought to be too bold for a garden and was again considered gaudy. Many kept the purple geranium out of their gardens for a period of several years until it began to come back as a more accepted style—because who wants to be out of style?
Where to Find Geraniums
Geraniums are a common flower that can be found in nearly any gardening store. Large stores with a garden section such as Walmart, Home Depot, and Lowes are sure to carry them in the spring and summer.
You should also be able to find geraniums at any of your local nurseries or flower shops—in fact, it is common to find geraniums already planted in pre-arranged hanging baskets and planters here. Another option is finding your geraniums online as many nurseries across the country have shipping options.
In general, a local nursery or flower shop may be the best place to purchase your geraniums, as their flowers are often cared for by professionals. A local shop may also be able to provide you with the best geranium care instructions and proper planting tools and supplements needed. If you are looking for a geranium arrangement that is already set up, the owners or workers at these shops are probably pretty good at creating beautiful arrangements.
Online nurseries are often just as knowledgeable as local nurseries; however, shipping can sometimes be rough on a plant. It may also be difficult to determine if an online plant shop is a reputable nursery where the plants are taken care of properly, or if the company just turns out as many plants as possible, regardless of quality or accuracy.
Purchasing your geraniums online may be a good option if you are looking for a certain variety you can’t find elsewhere, just be sure to buy from a store that has good reviews and takes care with shipping.
Buying your geraniums from a large box store is not necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes the garden workers will not be as knowledgeable as someone from a plant nursery. When plants are not cared for properly, the quality of the flower can decrease.
For example, a geranium that has been well cared for from the start may give more blooms and the plant may have the energy to grow larger overall.
A plant that has not received the proper care may lack the energy needed to grow properly and bloom correctly—this may be hard to distinguish when the plants are still small. Box stores certainly provide convenience when picking up your geraniums, and as long as the plants are still healthy, this can be a good option.
When is the Best Time to Give Geraniums?
There is never a bad time to give geraniums; they are a beautiful flower that represents happiness, friendship, and overall positive spirits.
Wedding ceremonies are a popular time to give geranium flowers. Not only will the positive vibes of the plant be appreciated, but they will look beautiful as decorations in the wedding venue if you give them early enough.
Geraniums are also a common gift for friends, particularly as housewarming gifts. Although different colored geraniums can be meant to represent different things—as discussed previously—all colors are often received with happiness and thanks. Mother’s Day, birthdays, anniversaries, and welcoming parties are also good times to give geraniums.
If you are gifting a live geranium plant that is meant to be planted or kept outside, the best time of year is in the spring.
Geraniums should be planted once any threat of frost has gone; however, they can be kept inside for a little while if needed until any chance of frost has passed. If you want to gift geraniums at a time of year when they can’t be planted outdoors, be sure to give them in a nice indoor pot or vase so your recipient can still enjoy them.
Overall, the geranium flower makes a great home addition and gift in a number of different settings. While the popularity of these flowers did take a dive in the Victorian era, their popularity has only risen since.
Today, geraniums are a popular choice among many gardeners—particularly as annuals.
The various colors that the geraniums flowers come in traditionally represent different meanings; however, the overall message of the geranium is happiness, friendship, and overall joy, making them a wonderful flower to share and enjoy.
See more: Will deer eat geraniums?
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