Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Geraniums are indigenous to southern Africa, and it was on Dutch and English ships returning from that region in the 17th century that they first found their way to Europe (and shortly thereafter to America). Now, geraniums are among the most widely grown flowering pot plants in the world. Zonal geraniums vary in height and bear flower clusters up to 4 inches across in red, white, pink, or lavender. Their soft, plush horseshoe-shaped leaves are adorned with rings of white, cream, yellow, red, or brown. Today, geraniums flower better, are more disease-resistant, and are more colorful. They are versatile, too, growing as well in the garden as they do in pots, planters, and window boxes. Known for their heat tolerance, easy care, and disease-resistant qualities, geraniums bring enjoyment and success to gardens and outdoor containers throughout the country. Location requirements Zonal geraniums will grow almost anywhere with minimal care. Common geraniums are excellent bed, border and pot plants because they bloom throughout the garden season. The trailing stems of ivy geraniums make them particularly stunning in window boxes and hanging baskets. Depending upon the variety and care, you can expect zonal geraniums to reach a height of 12-24 inches in the garden. For an eye-catching display, pair geraniums with other annuals. Most geraniums thrive in climates with dry summers, warm days and cool nights. Avoid dark, wet locations. Light requirementsGeraniums are sun lovers; they thrive best with at least six hours of direct sunlight a day. In very hot areas (such as the Midwest and South), it may be best to give the plants a few hours of shade during midday. Soil requirements Whether in containers or the garden, the soil should be well-drained and amended with compost or peat moss. If soil testing, adjust the soil to a pH of 6.0. Watering When first transplanted, water more frequently. Once established, allow the soil to dry out before watering again. Avoid wetting the leaves while watering to prevent any fungal disease from spreading. Fertilizing Geraniums require much fertilization. Use a balanced plant food for flowering plants. Fertilize according to label recommendations from March through October and less frequently during dormancy. Winter care Zonal geraniums are tender. In cold areas, dig up your geraniums and plant them in pots to spend the winter indoors. In midwestern or northern climates, an enclosed patio which stays just above freezing at night is a great over-wintering location .