Many varieties of flowering geraniums exist, and they are all perennial favorites with home gardeners, according to GeraniumCare.net. Their care is simple and they have a pleasing scent–but be careful not to let them get too wet.
Deadheading and Pruning
Geraniums like their soil to dry out between waterings. These plants, whether in the ground or in a pot, can develop a disease called Botrytis, according to Ohio State University. They die if you water them too much, or leave their soil wet for extended periods. If you keep a potted geranium on a plant saucer, empty it after you water it.
Every spring, garden centers and department stores offer several types of geraniums for sale. These versatile plants are usually inexpensive and add long-lasting color to garden borders. They are grown in hanging baskets and pots both indoors and outdoors.
Spring is a great time to take cuttings from your geraniums. Cut 3-inch sprigs of new growth, remove the lower leaves and root them in potting soil. Place the pot inside a plastic bag to keep the humidity high, and use a rooting hormone. Keep the plant out of direct sunlight as long as it is in the plastic bag.
Geraniums (Pelargonium spp.) are favorite flowering plants for flowerbeds, borders, containers, window boxes and hanging baskets. The seed pods resemble a stork’s bill with an elongated tip. There are over 200 types of geraniums offering a variety of colors, growing habits, leaf patterns and scents. The flowers are white, pink, salmon, red, fuchsia and lavender. Geraniums are commonly propagated either from seeds or cuttings. Geranium cuttings create a copy or clone of the parent plant.
Things You’ll Need
- Clay pot 3-inches
- Plant pot 6- to 8-inches
- Electric drill
- Screen mesh
- Geranium parent plant
- Sharp knife
- Rooting hormone
- Spray bottle
- Clear plastic bag
- Wash a small 3-inch clay plant pot and a 6- to 8-inch container in soapy water. Rinse both containers in a mixture of one part bleach and nine parts water. Drill holes in the larger container with an electric drill if there are no drainage holes. Cover the drainage holes with a screen mesh.
- Seal the bottom of the clay plant pot with a cork. This is used as a water reservoir and the water will seep out through the sides of the clay plant pot. Set the small plant pot in the center of the larger one and surround it with vermiculite.
- Cut 2- to 3-inch long stem pieces with a sharp knife. The best cuttings are the taken at the end of the stems and are without flower buds. Remove the bottom half of the stem of leaves. Dip the cut end into 1/2 inch of rooting hormone. Slide the cuttings 1 1/2 inches deep into the vermiculite.
- Fill the small clay pot with water and spray the cuttings with water. Place a clear plastic bag over the top of the cuttings. Puff the bag up so that it does not touch the leaves. Place the geranium cuttings in a warm area with indirect light.
- Refill the small clay pot when the water level drops. Remove the bag when new growth begins, which signals the establishment of roots. Move the cuttings into an area with filtered sunlight. Once vigorous growth begins, transplant the cuttings into their permanent home.
Tips & Warnings
Pinch dead or fading flowers off blossoming geranium plants. Deadheading promotes the growth of new blossoms and prevents the formation of seed pods.
Do not let the geranium plants dry out and wilt. Cycles of wilting and heavy watering causes leaf drop and slow growth.
Zonal and ivy geraniums (Pelargonium spp.) can survive a light frost, but when temperatures drop below 26 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit, significant leaf and stem damage occurs. Geraniums are native to southern Africa where they grow in sunny locales in a moist to dry, well-drained soil.
If you grow a particularly showy geranium that you like or spent a fair amount of money to obtain, digging and re-potting the plant indoors before a killing fall frost arrives makes sense. Conversely, if the geranium is common and inexpensive to replace, it may not be worth the time and effort to bring plants indoors to overwinter. Just plant newly purchased seedlings next spring.
There are three options for overwintering geranium plants according to Cooperative Extension publications from both Illinois and Iowa State Universities. Dig the entire plant up and plant it in a container to bring indoors; take stem cuttings and root them in small containers to grow over the winter months; or dig up plants, wash off all soil and hang them to air-dry in a cool, dry place. The last option is the most difficult to complete successfully for healthy plants come spring.
In order for geranium plants to remain healthy over the winter when brought indoors they must have as much direct sunlight as possible. A bright window in a cool, unheated room with temperatures of 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal. Warmer rooms lead to "leggy" plants. Also, do not over-water geranium plants in the winter–keep the soil on the dry side.