Geraniums are a firm favorite for almost every gardener. Geraniums are also known as Pelargoniums. Geraniums can be annuals, perennials and even houseplants and can grow in various conditions and zones.
Everybody loves them; everybody wants them. Geraniums are sun lovers and need at least 6-7 hours of sun per day and cope well with harsh afternoon sun. If planted in the semi-shade or dappled shade, they will grow long and lanky, get diseases, and not flower as profusely.
Caring For Geraniums
Geraniums are easy to care for and will give you lots of joy if cared for well. Most importantly, they require 6-7 hours of sunlight.
If your winters are very cold, take cuttings for next spring or bring them indoors.
Always purchase healthy plants that have healthy leaves and sturdy stems that are not leggy or straggly.
Deadheading And Pruning Geraniums
Deadhead regularly - follow the flower stem to where it joins the plant and snap off, making a clean break. Do the same for any leaves that are starting to yellow or are not looking their best.
Deadheading germanium will force the plant to produce more blooms within 10 - 14 days.
Deadheading also allows for better airflow.
Prune at the end of winter by cutting off the stems just above a new leaf. Pruning will allow the plant to become fuller and more compact and give its second growth for the next season.
Never water on the leaves, only water the soil. Allow the soil to dry out before watering.
Geraniums will get root rot if the soil is too wet.
Types Of Geraniums
Sometimes also referred to as wild geraniums or cranesbill geraniums.
Hardy Geraniums are perennial plants and can tolerate some shade and require very little care as they grow in the wild. They will become dormant in the winter and get their new growth in spring.
Zonal Geraniums are easy to grow, flower well and are heat and drought tolerant. They are perfect for window boxes with their upright growth.
Sometimes called bedding or house geraniums, the zonal geranium flower is a group of buds. The buds do not open all at once. It starts with the top buds of the flower and then the bottom buds open.
Zonal geraniums get their name from the color of the leaf - which has a dark brown circle in the center of the leaf.
Regal Geraniums / Pelargoniums
Also known as Marsha Washington geraniums, prefer cooler summers.
This variety of Geranium do well as indoor plants and overwinter well indoors.
The leaves are glossy and have a vine-like ivy look - best for the hanging baskets on a sunny balcony, as they cascade over the basket. Ivy geranium can be positioned in semi-shade and require a little more water than other geraniums. They look stunning as groundcover on a slope.
Scented Leaf Geraniums
Scented geraniums smell beautiful in warm weather. They have a velvet texture to their scented leaves.
Some varieties have scents such as citronella (to keep mosquitos away), rose, mint and lemon.
Geraniums can take a certain amount of cold and frost, 26F (-3C) but try one of these overwintering methods if you live in a colder region.
- Dig up the geraniums before the first frost.
- Remove all potting soil from the roots.
- Remove flowers and dead leaves.
- Place the plants in a large, dry cardboard box with the roots facing up.
- Lightly close the box and place it in a cool unheated room, basement or garage.
- As above but instead of placing the plants in a cardboard box, place them upsidedown inside a paper packet with the roots sticking out.
- Wrap a piece of string around the top of the packet.
- Hang them upside down with the roots up in a cool unheated room, basement or garage.
- Take the pot indoors and treat it as a houseplant for the winter.
- Place in a sunny position.
Replanting After Overwintering
- Method 1 and 2 will force the plant into dormancy as there is no light and cold temperatures.
- The leaves will dry up and fall off during the winter.
- Remove dead stems.
- Replant the geraniums in spring and give them half-strength liquid organic seaweed or fish fertilizer.
Planting Geraniums In Containers
Plant in a mixture of 2 parts potting mix and one part vermiculite or crushed pumice for good drainage.
If you are positioning the pot in full sun in a very hot climate, add some coconut coir or peat to the mixture to retain some moisture. Containers dry out much faster than planting directly in the garden.
Add some stone to the bottom of the container for extra drainage.
Geraniums are perennials, and as long as you feed them occasionally, deadhead and water adequately, they will live in the container for up to 3 years. After a few years, take cuttings and replace them. Take the containers indoors before the first frost.
Propagating Geranium By Cuttings
- Geraniums are very easy to propagate by cuttings above a leaf joint from the main stem.
- Make a cutting about 2-4in (5-10cm) long.
- Remove the leaves near the bottom.
- Plant in a mixture of 2 parts potting mix and one part vermiculite or crushed pumice for good drainage.
- Do not let them dry out, and they will root in about 2 - 3 weeks.
Geraniums are hardy, easy to grow and will give you lots of pleasure.
Geraniums are drought tolerant as long as the soil is well-draining.
Most leaves and flowers of the Geranium are edible.
The natural oil in Geranium leaves act as an insect repellent.