How to Care for Zonal Geraniums
Zonal geraniums (Pelargonium spp.) are common garden plants with brightly colored flowers and ornamental leaves. Depending on the variety, geraniums reach up to 36 inches tall. The leaf markings produce a zone of color in the heart of the leaf. The multicolored leaves include bronze, scarlet, cream and yellow colors. The 2- to 3-inch blossoms cluster on 4- to 5-inch flower heads. The varieties of zonal geraniums include pink, red, salmon and white flowering types. These bedding plants grow well in containers, hanging baskets, window boxes and flowerbeds.
- Moderately Easy
Things You’ll Need
- Potting soil
- Peat moss
- Wood chips
- Mix 3 parts potting soil, 1 part sand and 1 part peat moss to create a quick-draining soil. Fill a large container with the soil and stir in 1 tbsp. of 10-20-10 slow-release fertilizer. Plant the zonal geranium in the container at the same depth that it was growing. Keep the soil 3 inches from the top of the planting pot.
- Place a 2-inch layer of fine wood chips in the top of the container around the base of the geraniums. Mulching conserves water and keeps the soil cool. Locate the container in an area with at least four hours of direct sunlight. In hot climates, protect the flowers with afternoon shade.
- Pour water into the top of the container until it drains out the bottom. Keep the water off of the leaves because it encourages plant disease. Let the soil dry out between waterings. Work a finger into the top 1 inch of soil, and water if it is dry.
- Mix 10-10-10 water-soluble fertilizer at half-strength. Feed the geraniums every two weeks during the growing season. Slow-release 20-20-20 fertilizer is an option instead to scratch into the soil monthly.
- Pinch the stem tips after planting until the zonal geranium grows bushy. Each stem will divide into more branches. Remove fading flowers to prevent the formation of seeds, which cause the zonal geranium to stop blossoming. The loss of the flowers promotes the formation of new blossom growth.
Tips & Warnings
Choose a large container to accommodate vigorous growth. Drill four holes in the bottom of the planting pot with an electric drill if drainage holes are absent.
Pests such as aphids, caterpillars, mites and whiteflies occasionally infest zonal geraniums. Remove large insects and drown them in a jar of soapy water. Spray smaller pests off the plants with a strong stream of water.