Geranium Flower Meanings, Myths, and Symbolism

Geraniums have historically symbolized happiness, good health, and friendship in the language of flowers. The flowers are often given as housewarming gifts that bring good cheer to the home all year long. Although they are typically associated with positive emotions, this is not always the case. During the Victorian Times, a geranium was often considered a symbol of stupidity or folly.

Geranium Flower Meaning, Symbolism, Popular Types, and Uses

Etymological Meaning

The geranium earns the common name of Cranesbeak from the way the seed pod forms, after blooming, a long, beak-like pod forms to hold the seeds. The name Pelargonium comes from the Greek word Pelargos, meaning stork. The word geranium comes from the word géranos, meaning crane.

Color Symbolism

A cluster of colorful pink and purple geranium flowers in bloom.

In floriography, or the language of flowers, geraniums are rich with meaning and symbolism. Each color variation of this popular plant carries its own secret message.

Classic red geraniums are a declaration of love and passion, a bold statement of feelings that cannot be hidden.

Pink geraniums hint at a gentle affection and a growing love that is yet to be announced.

White geraniums, speak of purity and truth, often suggesting that the giver is of pure intention and wishes for peace.

But the geranium’s narrative doesn’t stop with color. The way its leaves are presented, and even the specific species, can hold additional significance. For example, scented geraniums, with their fragrant leaves, were traditionally used to convey a hidden message, suggesting that the recipient should prefer the sender’s “scent” or essence above all others.

The Victorian Language of Flowers

Geraniums have also been symbols of folly and foolishness in Victorian times, and in some contexts, they represent a meeting place or a rendezvous. This might be rooted in their hardy nature, implying that, despite life’s challenges, the giver and receiver of the flower will always find a way to come together.

The cultural significance of geraniums spans the globe. In Victorian England, a pot of geraniums on a windowsill was a sign of hospitality, welcoming passersby. In Egyptian culture, geraniums were believed to promote fertility and health, often used in ceremonies and remedies.

Geranium Flowers and Astrology

Geraniums align well with the Scorpio zodiac flower sign because of the various meanings they carry. For example, red geraniums symbolize protection in some cultures, which suits determined and brave Scorpio.

Interestingly, some cultures believe white geraniums repel snakes, one of the animals that represent Scorpio. Perhaps the flower can protect Scorpios from negative temptations like jealousy and resentment. 

Napoleon’s Geranium

According to legend, Napoleon Bonaparte had a particular fondness for geraniums, to the extent that he was often associated with the flower. The most famous tale is that Napoleon wore a geranium in his buttonhole as a symbol of good luck.

During the late 18th and early 19th centuries, when Napoleon rose to prominence, geraniums were becoming increasingly popular in Europe, thanks to new varieties being introduced from South Africa. These plants, with their vibrant colors and ease of cultivation, quickly became fashionable among the European elite.

Suitable Gifting Occasions

Potted geranium flowers in bloom at a plant shop

Geraniums make lovely housewarming or hostess gifts with their cheery disposition and well-wishes. They are also appropriate for retirements or other ceremonies where you desire to wish the recipient well.

They also make a delightful presentation for the gardener in your life as they will continue to bring cheer all summer. Consider a big basket of ivy geranium for the deck or porch for housewarming or retirement gifts.

Fun Facts About Geraniums

Geraniums are fascinating plants with a rich history and a variety of uses, making them a favorite among gardeners and plant enthusiasts. Here are some fun facts about geraniums:

  1. Two Common Types: The term “geranium” can refer to two botanical genera: Pelargonium and Geranium. Pelargoniums are the colorful, commonly potted plants, while true Geraniums, also known as “cranesbills,” are mostly hardy, perennial ground covers.
  2. Scented Varieties: Many Pelargoniums are grown not just for their flowers but for their fragrant leaves, which can smell like lemon, rose, mint, pine, and even chocolate, depending on the variety.
  3. Natural Repellent: The strong scent of some geraniums, especially the citronella variety, is believed to repel mosquitoes and other insects, making them a natural choice for patios and outdoor seating areas.
  4. Medicinal Uses: Historically, geraniums have been used for their medicinal properties. Their leaves and flowers are said to have antiseptic and anti-inflammatory qualities and have been used in traditional remedies for wounds and other ailments.
  5. Edible Flowers: The flowers of some geranium species are edible and can be used to garnish salads, desserts, and drinks, adding a splash of color and a hint of flavor.
  6. Long Bloom Season: Geraniums are known for their lengthy blooming period. With proper care, they can provide colorful blooms from spring until the first frost in autumn.

Wrap-Up

Geraniums are classic garden staples and are more than just eye-catching flowers; they carry a wealth of symbolic interpretations, from love to protection. Geraniums have held various roles in folklore, traditional medicine, and even Victorian floriography, where they were used to convey secret messages. Whether red, pink, white, or variegated, each color variation of Geranium blossoms tells a unique story.

Editorial Director | andrew@petalrepublic.com | Full Bio

Andrew is the Editorial Director at Petal Republic. He holds a BSc degree in Plant Sciences and has trained professionally at leading floristry schools in London and Paris. In amongst overseeing a global editorial team, Andrew's a passionate content creator around all things flowers, floral design, gardening, and houseplants.

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