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What Are the Spikes Sticking Out of My Geraniums?


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Geraniums are considered easy to grow and maintain. However, geraniums do have a few serious problems that gardeners will need to watch out for. You can easily avoid many of the problems, such as spiky seed pods from spent flowers, with a few easy gardening practices. Discovering the secrets to preventing spiky seed heads will help you keep your geraniums blooming all summer long.

Geranium Seed Heads

  • Latin names for plants are often descriptive words and geraniums are no exception. The Latin name for geranium is Pelargonium x hortorum. Pelargonium comes from the Greek word "pelargos" meaning stork. This name comes because geranium seed heads are long and slender resembling a stork, or crane’s, bill. Even the common name Geranium, comes from the Greek word "geranos" meaning crane. Geranium flowers will inevitably produce seed heads if not prevented from doing so.

Deadheading

  • To prevent these long, spiky seed heads from forming, geraniums need regular deadheading, removing the spent flowers before they have a chance to reproduce. Geraniums are well known for needing almost daily attention to this task. To deadhead your geraniums, simply take a sharp, clean pair of scissors (or you can use your thumb and forefinger) and cut or pinch off the flower head all the way down into the foliage where the stem meets the plant.

Fertilizing For Blooming

  • Geraniums are heavy feeders and need fertilizing regularly to keep blooming. Geraniums that have not been fertilized will exhibit yellowing leaves, smaller and infrequent flowering and often lower leaves will abcise, or fall off. Give your geraniums a 5-10-5 fertilizer every four to six weeks during the growing season to keep them dense, flowering and healthy. Combinded with regular deadheading, you can keep your geraniums from producing spiky seed heads.

Common Problems

  • Besides the creation of spiky seed heads, geraniums are also susceptible to several diseases. The most common disease is bacterial leaf spot/blight (Xanthomonas campestris pv. pelargonii). This disease manifests itself through leaf spots, black rot of the stem and leaf drop. Xanthomonas favors warm, humid weather and crowding of plants. To prevent it, plant your geraniums in full sun with good air circulation and give them lots of room to grow. Try to prevent water from splashing on the leaves by watering with a drip system, or soaker hoses. Copper fungicide sprays have some control possibilities. Always read the label before applying.

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