There are two main classes of geraniums, based on how they are propagated and grown. One group is grown from seed, the other by cuttings.
Seed-grown geraniums can be identified by the flatter, more open, “single” petals of the rounded flower head. They are usually cheaper, sold in packs or smaller pots. Many of the geraniums advertised by mass-merchandisers are seed-grown.
Cutting-grown geraniums, also nick-named “zonal” geraniums are propagated by rooting stem sections of the mother plant. The flower heads of cutting-grown geraniums tend to be more “double,” having more petals clustered together to give a fuller flower effect. Cutting-grown geraniums are usually more expensive. Most of the geraniums sold by locally-owned garden centers and greenhouses are grown from cuttings.
So which is better? Cutting-grown, also called zonal, geraniums are much preferred by most gardeners. When compared side-by-side, cutting grown plants are usually stockier, sturdier, more robust, perform better, have better flower form and are showier than seed-grown.
Although all geraniums are certainly pretty, seed-grown geraniums cannot compete with the strong beauty of cutting-grown. Cutting-grown geranium varieties have been bred and propagated for their healthy growth and strong flowering habit.
How can you be sure what you’re getting? Again, price comparison is a good clue. Check the pot tags for information. Once you’ve compared flower appearance and huskiness of plant habit, the difference becomes more easily discernable also.
Enjoy the geraniums, and “Happy Gardening!”