Are geraniums annual or perennial? It’s a simple question with a slightly complicated answer. It depends upon how harsh your winters are, of course, but it also depends upon what you’re calling a geranium. Keep reading to learn more about the lifespan of geranium flowers and what to do with geraniums after blooming.
Lifespan of Geranium Flowers
Geraniums can be split into two main categories. There are true geraniums, which are often called hardy geraniums and cranesbill. They are often confused with common or scented geraniums, which are actually a related but completely separate genus called Pelargoniums. These have a much showier display of flowers than true geraniums, but they are harder to keep alive in the winter. Pelargoniums are native to South Africa and are only hardy in USDA zones 10 and 11. Though they can live for many years in warm climates, they are often just grown as annuals in most places. They can also be grown in containers and overwintered indoors. The common geranium lifespan can be many years, as long as it never gets too cold. True geraniums, on the other hand, are much more cold hardy and can be grown as perennials in many more climates. Most are winter hardy in USDA zones 5 through 8. Certain varieties can survive the hotter summers in zone 9, and some others can survive, at least as far as the roots, in winters as cold as those in zone 3. The true geranium lifespan, as long as it’s cared for well, can be many years long. They can also be easily overwintered. Certain other varieties, such as Geranium maderense, are biennials that will survive most winters but have a lifespan of only two years. So to answer “how long do geraniums live,” it really depends on where you live and the type of “geranium” plant you have.
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The only child of a horticulturist and an English teacher, Liz Baessler was destined to become a gardening editor. She has been with Gardening Know how since 2015, and a Senior Editor since 2020. She holds a BA in English from Brandeis University and an MA in English from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. After years of gardening in containers and community garden plots, she finally has a backyard of her own, which she is systematically filling with vegetables and flowers.
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