Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Geranium (Pelargoniums)

"Peppermint Twist"
The time is almost here to plant our gardens, and start to enjoy the 2013 growing season.  Hopefully you've given thought to the colours and textures you hope to create in both your garden and your pots and planters.  The options available to you are endless!

"Raspberry Twizzle"
One plant that has long been a staple in the garden and window box is the geranium.  To be honest that has always been one of my least favorite annuals... Until recently. 

Spending time in a greenhouse prior to the growing season has given me a true appreciation for these plants that I have often overlooked.  The colours, varieties, and uses are endless, and I can honestly say my garden and planters will include a couple of geraniums this year.

"Rocky Mountain Light Pink"
I have always thought of them sort as a plant my grandmother would have kept, as I've often seen gardeners with years of experience planting geraniums year after year.  If you've read other posts in my blog you know that I tend to like the unusual flowers and varieties available.  The plain red geranium isn't one i would consider, however there are so many more beautiful options its hard not to become enamored with a couple of the varieties available.

"Cascade White"
There are more varieties and colours available than a single blog posting could ever get into, I am going to highlight a few of my favorites in the photographs on this blog.  There are many more I don't currently have photo's of.  Some geraniums are grown for their flowers, others for their leaves, others for scent.  There are upright, and trailing varieties, the selection really is endless.
"Americana White Splash"

Geraniums care is quite easy, which is likely one of the reason they have been so popular for so long.  The main requirements for geraniums (as with most annuals) is light, water, and fertilizer... If you get the right mix of all 3 of these factors, you're sure to have success!

"Caliente Fire"
Geraniums require a lot of light... full sun is preferred.  By full sun, the hot afternoon sun is required to keep these flowers happy and blooming for the full season.  All geraniums will tolerate partial sun or filtered sun, but you may not get the quantity of blooms this plant is capable of providing.

"Classic White"
Watering Geraniums is crucial... Although geraniums can withstand BRIEF times of dryness, they really should be kept evenly moist all the way to the bottom of the roots... but not wet (soggy).  This is particularly important in hot dry weather... as a rule the more hot and sunny the weather... the more water your plant needs!   If the plant doesn't get enough water you're sure to notice it in the leaves, and it won't bloom to its full potential.

"Americana Rose Mega Splash"
Fertilizing is equally important to keep your geraniums (and other annuals) blooming and growing.  Feed your geraniums weekly as they are heavy feeders...  I like to use a balanced fertilizer like 15-15-15 or 20-20-20 water soluble fertilizer once a week throughout the growing season.  This will ensure that you get constant and prolific blooms and active growth throughout the season.  If you're not able to commit to regular fertilizing like this, a slow release fertilizer is a good alternative, mixing the required amount (and a bit more for geraniums) into the soil will release small amounts of fertilizer with every water... Although the water soluble fertilizer is definitely the preferred method.

In order to keep your plants looking good, it is important to dead-head the finished blooms by pinching them off, I like to do this as close to the stem as possible to keep the plant looking its best.

"King of Balcon"
If you happen to see your leaves yellowing, it is very likely one of two problems... either too much water, or too little water.  If the soil seems soggy constantly, drainage might be an issue, and you should cut back a bit on the watering... if the soil is dry and dusty, your plant needs more water.  It is a good habit to replace the soil in your containers and window boxes every year.

Many people overwinter their geraniums indoors, in a bright window in the house... I don't recommend doing this, as it normally takes these older plants longer to get going in the spring, and the plants don't end up being as vigorous as new plants... However the option is definitely there.  I like to change my colours and varieties up from year to year... and in all honesty... I don't have the room to keep them over.

Geraniums are normally fairly inexpensive... If you have planted them in the past, try a new variety... if you haven't planted them (like me) give them a try!  I know my garden will have a few of the varieties mentioned on this blog this year!
"Rocky Mountain Pink"
All Photographs on this blog taken by Paul Gellatly