Two very confusing plants! I think most people are more familiar with the name ‘Geranium’ compared to “Pelargonium’. Though Geraniums and Pelargoniums are both closely related (Geraniaceae family), apparently there are some differences between the two. From many sources that I have read, the differences between the two are:

Geraniums:

  • True Geraniums are known as Hardy Geraniums or Crane Bills, referring to the shape of the seed pods. Hardy and grow in cold climates.
  • The flowers have 5 petals of the same size and shape.
  • Seedpods have curls that explode when ripened.
  • Have many thin stems that attached to fibrous roots.

Possible Geraniums in our garden. Though I am not really sure, but these have 5 uniform petals, so I assume they are Geraniums. Then again are they??????

Single Red Flowers:

Geranium Red Geranium Red 2

Geranium Seedpods

The seeds look like pods that can explode to release the seeds when ripened.

Single Salmon/Orange Colour with White Center:

Geranium - Single Salmon Orange Geranium Salmon Orange

Pelargoniums:

  • Native to South Africa. They are used to be regarded the same as Geraniums that are originally grow in cold climates of Europe.
  • The flowers have 5 petals with the upper two differ in shape and size that the lower 3.
  • Seedpods have feathered ends to let them float in the wind.
  • Stems are succulent to be able to keep moisture during the draught.

Possible Pelargonium plant in our garden. The 5 petals  have two bigger ones compared to the other 3.

Pelargonium crispum - October 2015 Pelargonium crispum Oct. 2015 Pelargonium crispum

Pelargonium Seeds

Seed looks kind of feathery ????

This one has double ruffled petals, so it is impossible to tell. What is it? Geranium or Pelargonium?

Pelargonium/Geranium - ruffled petals 2

Pelargonium - ruffled petals

People call this Rosebud Geranium, but is it actually a Geranium or Pelargonium? Still very confused!

Rosebud Geranium

Rosebud Geranium

They say that it is actually Pelargoniums that are commonly grown in gardens and sold in the shop. Could it be that all these that grow in my garden are Pelargoniums?????? The funny thing is… if I say Pelargonium to all my friends they don’t have any idea what it is, but if I say Geranium, all of them understand 😦

For further read to end the confusion:

https://laidbackgardener.wordpress.com/geranium-or-pelargonium-lets-stop-the-confusion/

Update September 29, 2016:

Thank you to David Hollombe who has told us the easier way to distinguish the difference between Geraniums and Pellargoniums:

There are exceptions to almost every feature used to distinguish Geraniums from Pelargoniums. There is a small subgenus of Geranium with seeds that disperse like Pelargoniums, and shrub Geraniums from high mountains in the tropics. The only difference that is 100% certain, to the best of my knowledge, is that the base of the receptacle of the flower in all Pelargonium is extended into what looks like a extension of the stem, but is jointed to the true stem, usually with a noticeable difference in opacity. I learned that from the late Oscar Clarke of UC Riverside.