Pelargonsjuka is the Scandi-chic trend that celebrates one of our favorite plants

Forget hygge (for now) – this is the Scandinavian trend we all want to try this summer and beyond

potted pelargoniums
(Image credit: Pelargonium for Europe)

In my opinion, it's hard to dislike pelargoniums (commonly referred to as geraniums). With their clusters of brightly-colored blooms and fuzzy foliage, they are a fabulous choice for pots, both indoors and out. And while these cheery plants are often associated with the sunny climes of the Med, their popularity has recently surged in Scandinavia. 

They are so well-loved in these cooler climes that a container gardening trend has forged around them, known as pelargonsjuka. As Dr. Susanne Lux of Pelargonium for Europe explains, the word pelargonsjuka translates to 'pelargonic disease', which jokingly refers to an obsession with these beauties. 

In the warmer months, these plants are showcased on window sills, decks, and patios. Then, when the cold, dark, Swedish winters arrive, they are brought indoors to brighten up interiors (and moods), where they are safely protected from frost. The idea has got us feeling inspired, and luckily, it's easy to try at home.

Potted pelargonium on outdoor dining table

Pelargoniums will brighten up a dining table, both indoors and out

(Image credit: Pelargonium for Europe)

Picking the right pelargonium for you

What surprises many who are new to these plants is the variety on offer, from soft pastel shades to neon brights with variegated foliage. Whatever the style of your interior and exterior scheme, you can be sure that there's a pelargonium to suit. My personal favorites are the ones with aromatic leaves, with fragrances of rose, apple, and even cola (as I recently discovered in a garden center).

There are a few main varieties to choose from, as Susanne explains. 'Upright and bushy, the zonal variety is ideal for bedding displays or containers placed in full sun, offering clusters of single or double flowers in a large variety of colors such as red, salmon, pink or white,' she says. Then there are the ivy-leaved pelargoniums, which are perfect for hanging baskets on a balcony or porch. 

However, Susanne favors the regal and angel varieties for achieving the pelargonsjuka lifestyle. These flower earlier than the zonal variety, and work exceptionally well as indoor pot plants or in outdoor containers, she says.

white potted pelargoniums

These frilly, white flowers are perfect for a cottagecore style

(Image credit: Pelargonium for Europe)

Gardening expert Tony O'Neill likes the zonal variety 'Frank Headley' for stunning foliage. He also recommends 'Lord Bute' for striking blooms – a regal variety. In terms of scented pelargoniums, Tony suggests 'Attar of Roses' or 'Clorinda', which has a cedar-like fragrance.

Whichever pelargonium you go for, plant it in a pretty pot that complements the surroundings, ensuring it has drainage holes in the bottom. A container that's suitable for indoors and outdoors will make your life easier as you move it throughout the year. For that Scandi-inspired style, stick to minimal designs in neutral hues.

attar of roses pelargonium

'Attar of Roses' smells divine, and has delicate pink blooms

(Image credit: Dorling Kindersley ltd / Alamy Stock Photo)

Looking after your pelargoniums

In terms of care, pelargoniums are pretty straightforward, making them a good plant for beginners. They like lots of sunlight, and benefit from fertilizer in spring, as well as plenty of water during dry spells. The smaller the volume of soil per plant, the more often you will need to water, especially when it’s hot, Susanne says. Faded blooms can be deadheaded as and when needed to keep the plants looking neat.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that these are tender plants, meaning frost will kill them. So, to ensure your geraniums survive winter, bring them indoors before inclement weather hits.

Geraniums will continue to flower indoors throughout winter when given the proper care, says Anna Ohler, Owner of plant nursery Bright Lane Gardens. 'Place them next to a window that gets at least four hours of sun per day.' They won't need watering as much throughout the cooler months. 'Allow the top 1/2 inch of soil to dry out between waterings,' Anna recommends. 

Keep them happy and healthy, and you'll be able to bring them back outdoors once warmer weather returns to enjoy them on your patio.

Anna Ohler
Anna Ohler

Anna is an avid plant hobbyist and the Owner and Operator of Bright Lane Gardens, a boutique plant nursery in Northern Michigan. With over a decade of experience in gardening and landscaping, she takes every opportunity to share her knowledge on all things plant related.

Ready to try the pelargonsjuka trend at home? These essentials will help you get started:

These plants are a simple way to add some Scandinavian style to your home and yard, even if you're a gardening novice. You'll soon discover that building up a collection of pelargoniums becomes incredibly tempting: once you jump on board the pelargonsjuka trend, it's easy to understand where it gets its name from!

Holly Crossley
Contributing Editor

The garden was always a big part of Holly's life growing up, as was the surrounding New Forest where she lived. Her appreciation for the great outdoors has only grown since then; over the years, she's been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator. Having worked for for two years, Holly now regularly writes about plants and outdoor living for Homes & Gardens.