They are commonly called geraniums, although in reality, although belonging to the geraniaceae family, their botanical name is Pelargonium. These are small evergreen shrubs, originating in Africa and the Mediterranean area; these plants have been grown in Italy for centuries, have undergone various hybridizations, and in general the most widespread are hybrids. However, there are many particular hybrids, easy to find in nurseries, but also botanical species, perhaps a little more from collectors, which can easily be cultivated even by less experienced ones.
On most of the Italian summer balconies, for decades, we often find geraniums, cultivated for their abundant and joyful flowering, and for the ease of cultivation; most of the plants that we find in a common Italian city belong to more or less hybrids of the same genus: some will choose the zonal geraniums, those with a pelosetta leaf and erect vegetation, others will choose the so-called climbing geraniums, which are grown as hanging.
However, there are many hybrid varieties, always belonging to these two large groups, with effect flowers, which should find more space on our terraces.
The hybrids of geranium easier to find in the nursery are the stellar and finger hybrids: they are zonal geraniums, with flowers with sharp petals, and often in the same bunch of flowers they appear with different colors.
In addition to these geraniums there are hybrids with flowers similar to small carnations, or even very double flowers, which resemble small roses.
Cactus-flower zonal geraniums are also very widespread, with flowers with linear petals, elongated, of certain effect.
There are also some geranium hybrids with particular foliage, be they climbing or zonal geraniums, with variegated foliage, or very light green; some are reminiscent of ivy, with almost succulent foliage, very decorative even if not in bloom.
In many nurseries the cultivation of particularly interesting botanical species is spreading; some of these are dedicated to collectors only, because cultivation is not always simple.
Among the most widespread we can mention the fragrant geraniums, such as P. graveolens or P. fragrans, with lemon or mint scented foliage; botanical geraniums generally produce a very decorative foliage, with minute blooms, often not particularly attractive; for this reason we also find numerous fragrant leaf hybrids, which combine the penetrating aroma of some botanical species, with the abundant and colorful flowers of hybrid geraniums.
In nature there are many species of succulent pelargonium, some of these species are fairly simple to find, and can be successfully grown even by beginners.
Most of the geranium botanical species produce good-sized plants, which can be grown outdoors throughout the year in the southern regions, often maintaining the foliage; in areas with cold winters these plants can be grown in a temperate greenhouse during the winter, where they need little care, as they pass through a winter vegetative rest period.
Geranium - Pelargonium: Other widespread hybrids
Among the particular geraniums some are always cultivated, together with the classic zonal or climbing plants; among these certainly the pelargonium macrantha, also called imperial geraniums, with coriaceous foliage and large very colorful flowers, not always very re-flowering.
Angel hybrid Pelargoniums are also very common, with small flowers similar to butterflies; dwarf geraniums are also very common, with very small dimensions.