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More about Geranium




The genus Geranium contains several species of interest in the garden; but the various plants, collectively called geranium, which are grown as decorative pot plants all belong in the genus Pelargonium.
Annual geraniums are popular for their wide range of brilliant flower color and attractive leaves. They can be grown as bedding plants and in containers on decks and patios, in hanging baskets, or in window boxes. Their use as window plants dates to 1700. Modern hybrids of the various types of Pelargonium have been brought to a high standard of perfection. Leaf-color, scent, longevity of bloom, ease of culture and propagation-there is little to be desired to earn a perfect mark in the window garden. There is great variation in leaf, flower and growth habit of geraniums. They vary in height from 6 inches to several feet, depending on the cultivar and the care given the plants.
Geraniums require a sunny window. Top growth should be sprayed daily, but the soil in the pot should be kept barely moist. Too much water causes leaves to brown and buds to blast and fall off. Cut plants back in May, both branches and main stem. Re-pot if necessary, but if the plant looks healthy just renew the top inch of potting mixture and plunge plant in the garden. You will have to decide whether the geraniums are to blossom during the summer or the winter. They will do either, but not both.
Geraniums need at least four hours a day of direct sunlight in order to flourish and flower well. In very hot areas it may be best to give the plants a few hours of shade midday. Plant geraniums outdoors after all danger of frost is past and the soil has warmed.
Never allow the plants to wilt or the leaves will turn yellow and drop off. Mulch the bed to maintain moisture levels and keep the soil cooler in summer. Soil for geraniums should be well-drained. Geraniums respond well to fertilizer and are stunted and yellowed if not provided enough nitrogen. Fertilize new flowerbeds with one pound of a 10-20-10 fertilizer or the equivalent per 100 square feet. Mix the fertilizer into the soil well. Geraniums usually require additional fertilizer during the growing season every four to six weeks.
Geraniums have the habit of growing tall and lanky; long shoots should be constantly pruned to keep plants shapely and compact. When growing geraniums in containers, choose large pots to hold enough soil for a good root system, and to contain enough water to prevent wilting. Repot into larger containers if they grow so large that they wilt frequently. Select containers with adequate drainage holes, plant in a well-drained soil mix and do not allow pots to sit in water.
Propagating is by stem cuttings, which root in about 5 weeks. They will need several increasingly larger pots during the first summer in the garden.
For winter flowers, the buds appearing from late May through the summer must be ruthlessly pinched out as fast as they appear. For summer flowers on geraniums, a different schedule is used. Lift the plants from the garden in October and pot them. Cut them back, place in a cool room, and water only once a week. From November until the following May the plants should be rested in a dark cellar with just enough watering to prevent complete drying off. In May they are removed from the pot and planted in the garden bed where they begin to flower in several weeks.





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