Perennial geraniums, also known as cranesbill or hardy geraniums, have delicate-looking, deep green foliage and small blooms available in red, blue, purple, pink and white. The flowers are long-lasting, appearing from early summer through fall. Perennial geraniums vary in height from 6 to 30 inches, depending upon the variety. They are the ideal choice for busy gardeners, as they require little maintenance to thrive. The plants can be propagated in spring, late summer or early fall by splitting the roots of a healthy, established clump.
- Moderately Easy
Things You’ll Need
- Select a healthy, sturdy-looking side shoot from the outer edge of well-established perennial geranium.
- Loosen the soil gradually with a sharp spade until the roots of the side shoot can be easily lifted from the ground.
- Use a sharp knife to sever any roots still attached to the main clump. Examine the roots and cut away any that are damaged.
- Wrap the roots of the newly divided geraniums loosely in moistened paper towels and place the plants in a shady location to keep them from drying out.
- Dig a new planting hole the same depth and 2 to 3 inches wider than the roots of the newly divided geranium.
- Remove the paper towels and plant the geranium at the same level it was growing before. Water until the soil is moist all the way to the roots.
- Continue to water whenever the top inch of soil feels dry.
Tips & Warnings
Hardy and adaptable, perennial geraniums (Geranium spp.) are a good choice for gardeners looking for easy, reliable plants. The plants’ characteristics vary with different varieties. Cranesbill geranium (G. sanguineum) has magenta flowers all spring and summer and makes a 12-inch mound. In contrast, G. phaeum Album is a 30-inch, upright plant with white flowers. The foliage on Himalayan geraniums (G. himilayense) turns deep red in autumn, adding another season of interest to an already valuable plant. All types of perennial geraniums are easy to grow.
Things You’ll Need
- Organic matter
- Flowering plant fertilizer
- Choose a site in sun or partial shade with good drainage. Afternoon shade is best in hot areas.
- Amend the soil with organic material such as compost or humus to improve moisture retention as well as feed the plants. Incorporate flowering plant fertilizer, as well; the package will indicate the proper amount for new plantings. Geraniums are long-lived plants, so preparing the site well at planting time pays off in years of strong plant growth.
- Dig a hole as deep as the root ball and twice as wide. Remove the plant from its pot and examine the roots. Carefully loosen the soil with your fingers. Prune off any diseased or broken roots, then place the geranium into the hole, making sure the plant crown is at the same soil level as it was in the pot. Backfill around the plant with the amended soil. Water well. Space multiple plants as wide apart as their anticipated width, which will depend on the cultivar.
- Spread a 1- or 2-inch layer of mulch around the plants. Keep the mulch 1 inch away from the plant crown.
- Water often enough during the first year to keep the soil around the geranium moist but not wet. Most geraniums are drought-tolerant once established, so supplemental watering will be needed in following years only during extended dry periods.
- Inspect the foliage during hot, humid weather for a leaf spot infection. If found, cut the plants back to 6 to 8 inches from the ground. The geraniums will leaf out and bloom again.
- Cut back floppy or leggy plants to 6 to 8 inches from the ground. They will send up new leaves and flowers.
- Fertilize geraniums yearly in the spring just as new growth begins to show.
- Divide geraniums in spring. Dig up the whole clump and divide it into sections, discarding the center of the plant if it has died out. Replant the divisions promptly. Alternatively, you can remove a side shoot with strong roots and replant it elsewhere.
Tips & Warnings
Geraniums are one of the staples of the flower garden, where their bright flowers add color all season long. A frost tender perennial, geraniums will die out in winter if not cared for properly. By transplanting geraniums from outdoors to indoors in the fall, the plants overwinter and are ready to replant in the spring. Geraniums that are overwintered are usually larger than most nursery plants sold in the spring, so not only do you save money on new plants, you also get a head start on the growing season with large, ready-to-go flowers.
Things You’ll Need
- Pruning shears
- Planting pot
- Potting soil
- Transplant geraniums in the fall before the first frosts arrive. Cut back the foliage to half the plant’s original height using a pair of sharp pruning shears.
- Place a shovel on the soil 2 to 3 inches from the base of the plant. Drive the shovel into the soil and pull back on the handle to lift the geranium root ball out of the ground.
- Select a planting pot that is 1 inch larger than the root ball of your geranium. Use a pot that has holes in the bottom to allow excess water to drain through.
- Put enough potting soil into the bottom of the pot so that when you place the geranium into the pot, the base of the stems are 1/2 to 1 inch below the lip of the pot.
- Put the geranium into the pot and fill in the soil around the root ball. Fill the soil up to the base of the geranium stems so that the plant is the same depth in the pot as it was in the soil.
- Soak the pot with water until it drains out the holes in the bottom. If the soil settles and sinks during the first watering, add more until the correct level is reestablished.
- Place the pots in a damp basement or other dark area where the temperatures will remain between 50 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the winter. Water the plants when the top 2 inches of soil feels dry, to keep the roots slightly damp.
- Replant the geraniums outdoors in the spring when the temperatures are consistently above 60 degrees.
Tips & Warnings
Geraniums (Pelargonium spp.) are shrub like perennials with round, wavy foliage and single or clustered flowers in shades of coral, red, purple, white and pink. The plants thrive in warm weather and well-drained soil. A fungal infection causes spots to appear on geraniums.
Botrytis blight is characterized by the appearance of distinct spots or lesions on foliage and flowers. The spots have concentric rings and are sometimes V-shaped. Spots gradually grow in size to form large patches that eventually rot the entire plant. Flowers brown entirely and drop. During advanced stages of disease, infected plant areas develop gray, fuzzy growth.
Geraniums are a colorful, hearty flowering plant often used in home gardening. They survive in the harshest of conditions with little maintenance. Geraniums come in hundreds of species and thousands of varieties. Bedding geraniums, also called zonal geraniums, are actually not true geraniums at all. They are a tender perennial from South Africa with the botanical name of Pelargonium.
Bedding geraniums are frost tolerant and prefer well-drained soil that has neutral to slight alkaline levels. They prefer sun to partial shade and thrive from early summer to fall when they can be transferred indoors. Favorite varieties are the "Elite," "Orbit" and "Summer Showers" ivy geranium and all scented-leaf geraniums. Potential problems include Geranium budworm and root rot if the soil does not dry out between waterings. Dimensions are 1- to 3-feet tall and 1-to 3-feet wide.
Bedding geraniums are often called zonal geraniums because of their ability to produce leaves with reddish, horseshoe-shaped bands or zones. These leaves most often occur in cooler climates and partial shade. Other varieties produce ornamental leaves, like the "Flowers of Spring," with leaves variegated with silver, and the "Crystal Palace Gem" with golden leaves. Other specialty geraniums boast leaves accented with several colors. The specialty varieties will bloom off and on throughout the year if planted indoors and placed in a sunny window and can only be propagated by cuttings.
Seed-sown bedding geraniums are most appropriate for outdoor planting. They will produce self-cleaning flowers in shades of white, pink, lavender, salmon, red, orange and magenta that require no grooming. Double and semi-double flowered varieties can also be propagated by cutting and produce very large blossoms.
Geraniums should be planted in late spring when frost is not an issue. Plant geraniums no deeper than they were planted in the pot in well-drained soil to avoid root rot. Once in the ground, firm the soil around the roots and water thoroughly. Geraniums can be dug up at the end of the summer and transplanted into pots for the winter. To transplant, dig up the plant and trim it to half its original height; replant in a pot, and place in a sunny window.