The common garden geranium belongs to the Pelargonium family. The wide number of cultivars available makes it an eclectic flowering plant that grows as a shrub for pots or borders, and as a trailing plant that looks great in a hanging basket. Geraniums are straightforward plants with all the parts you’d expect a plant to have.
Geranium flowers are colorful and appear as clusters of single or double blossoms. Although you’ll have to come to your own conclusion on this, the University of Minnesota Extension also states that geranium flowers have "an unpleasant odor." Depending on the variety, you’ll end up with pink, red, white, lavender and even bicolor blooms. ‘Maverick Star’, for instance, produces rose and white bicolor flowers while ‘Orange Appeal’ blooms in orange, of course.
Geraniums have the type of seed that requires scarification before germination can occur. A hard shell protects the seed and until you break its coating, it remains dormant. But you don’t need a hammer. When you scratch the geranium seed with a piece of sand paper, you create enough space for water to penetrate its shell and get the germination process rolling.
According to the University of Minnesota Extension, geranium’s botanical name is Pelargonium, which is the Latin word for "stork." Perhaps, the name was chosen in reference to the plant’s fruit shape — the extension service describes it as looking like a stork’s bill.
You can’t describe geranium leaves in general terms, as there are many variations among the different cultivars. Some of the foliage is almost round while others have ruffled edges, for example. Others are narrow and look like lacy snowflakes. You’ll also find geraniums with tricolor, silver and variegated leaves. In addition, trailing geraniums produce foliage in a more triangular than round shape. Fittingly, these plants are known as ivy geraniums. Toothed and hairy leaves are also features on some plants. Besides, lemon geranium, apple geranium, peppermint geranium and mosquito geranium all have scented leaves. Their names describe their fragrance — mosquito geranium smells of citronella.
Common geraniums have woody succulent stems that grow to at least 3 feet, but might reach higher in some cultivars. Ivy geraniums have a similar succulent stem that trails, spreading 5 feet.
Geraniums have a root system that develops either from seeds or cuttings and is responsible for providing the plant a strong structure and the nourishment it needs to thrive. Geranium roots are at home in organically rich soil with good drainage. A 10-10-10 fertilizer is also a good food source from which the roots absorb nutrients to support the whole plant.