We know them as simply 'geraniums'. They are one of the most popular container plants, yet they are not really geraniums at all. Botanically they are Pelargonium. There are true geraniums, the perennial cranesbills, but they look little like the annual plants we commonly call 'geraniums'.
The confusion with the names can be traced back to disagreements between botanists over classification and is of little importance to most gardeners, except for the distinction that perennial cranesbill geraniums will come back each year and zonal geraniums, those now classified as Pelargonium, are topical perennials usually grown as annuals in colder climates. They got the prefix "zonal" because of the markings on their leaves.
Zonal geraniums were discovered in South Africa and if you have a similar, subtropical climate, you can grow them as perennials. This coral pink zonal geranium is Pelargonium x hortorum. Zonal geraniums are bushy plants, mainly used for containers and bedding. There has been considerable breeding done, particularly for size and abundance and colours of flowers, so there is a good deal of variety. Zonal geraniums start blooming in mid-spring and will repeat bloom until frost. Deadheading the entire flower stalk after the flower fades will encourage more blooms.
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