Annual geraniums (Pelargonium) are popular plants for borders and edgings, and also do well in containers, such as window boxes, flower pots and hanging baskets. They are readily available at garden centers, and home gardeners also can grow them from seed. Out of at least 250 species of annual geraniums, some cultivars and hybrids perform better than others.
The Pinto series of annual geraniums was a top performer for three years in a row in the North Carolina State University bedding plant trials. Its rating of 3.5 on a 5-point scale was based on performance, appearance, size, shape and freedom from pests and disease. It was the highest-rated of annual geraniums grown from seed in the university’s 1994 trials. Pinto Coral was selected in the 1997 NCSU bedding plant trial for showing consistent, dependable, full-season performance for color. Several varieties of the Pinto series received a rating of 4 or higher on a scale of 1 to 5 in the 2010 University of Illinois Annuals Evaluation Garden trials, which rates annuals for performance in full sun, evaluating features that include flower display, leaf color and ability to withstand insects and disease.
Inspire Scarlet was selected by Fleuroselect in 2007 for the organization’s Gold Medal award, which is awarded for top garden performers. Fleuroselect is an international group based in the Netherlands that conducts field and greenhouse trials of new flowers. Inspire Scarlet is a continuous bloomer with an extended bloom season. If grown from seed, Inspire Scarlet has a short cultivation period of 95 days. It bears red blooms 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter starting in the spring.
Winner of the 1991 Fleuroselect Gold Medal, Orange Appeal produces bright orange flowers. The bloom color, growth, earliness and distinctiveness were rated highly. Its blooms are approximately 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Orange Appeal grows equally well in beds or pots.
Another Fleuroselect Gold Medal winner, Summer Showers is the first ivy-leaved variety of geranium available from seed. It is suited for hanging baskets and window boxes, and blooms in a mix of scarlet, pink, plum and white. Summer Showers has been a best-seller since it was introduced in 1986, according to Fleuroselect.