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How to Grow Geraniums in Illinois


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Geraniums are a hardy perennial with colorful flowers that appear in midsummer in Illinois. With proper care, they can bloom until the first frost in the fall. Geraniums thrive in containers and flower beds. They are drought-tolerant and grow well in full sun to partial shade, making them easy flowers to grow in the summers of Illinois, where the average high temperature in August is 74 degrees Fahrenheit. With a bit of soil preparation to modify the wet soil that is predominant in Illinois, geraniums can thrive. Geraniums are available in red, pink, white, peach, orange, blue and purple.

Difficulty:
Moderately Easy

Instructions

Things You’ll Need
  • Geranium plants
  • Garden spade
  • Fertilizer or compost
  • Peat moss
  • Soil
  • Gardening gloves
  • 6- to 8-inch pots

Planting Geraniums

  1. Select a flower bed in the full sun or partial shade. In Illinois, this is best done in April, after the last freeze. Illinois often has wet soil with poor drainage, so prepare the soil by adding peat moss or dried organic matter to the flower bed.
  2. Dig holes for each plant approximately 1 foot deep and 1 foot apart.
  3. Add a thin layer of fertilizer or compost to the planting holes.
  4. Place plants in the holes. Fill in the space remaining around the plants with an airy soil, because geraniums grow better when their roots have room to spread out.

Caring for Geraniums

  1. Water thoroughly at least once a week (less if there is rain), as geraniums need a lot of water in the summer. Illinois receives a moderate amount of rainfall, but there are occasional dry summers. Water only the soil around the base of the plant, taking care to avoid getting water on the leaves and flowers.
  2. Cut off faded flowers at the stem base during the summer. This will encourage new blossoms to grow. In Illinois, geraniums can bloom until midfall. During more humid summers, gray mold can be a problem for geraniums. Deadheading geraniums prevents this fungus from growing.
  3. To protect geraniums from the freezing Illinois winters, dig up and replant in 6- to 8-inch pots. Bring potted geraniums indoors for the winter. David Robson writes on the University of Illinois Extension website, "As soon as we get freezing temperatures, most unprotected annual geraniums will turn a mushy green and die."

Tips & Warnings

  • If you decide to keep your geraniums in containers, transplant them into a larger pot to give their roots room to stretch out.

  • Geraniums are vulnerable to pests and bacteria. Keeping plants free from dead flowers and leaves will minimize this risk.

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