How To Plant And Care For Geraniums
by Lee Dobbins
Geraniums have long been a popular plant for both outdoor and indoor use.
The common geranium can be grown in beds or containers and will do well in either. The ivy leafed geranium is a natural for hanging planters. The Regal or Martha Washington geranium does not do well outside and should be indoors.
Growing Geraniums In Beds
To plant geraniums outdoors, you must wait until all threat of frost has passed. Pick a spot that is sheltered from strong winds and gets at least 6 hours of sun a day. The soil should be well drained and mildly acidic (pH of 6.5 is ideal). Geraniums need fertilization for best growth and they thrive in beds that have a good supply of nitrogen. Before planting, apply a 5-10-5 fertilizer to the soil. After planting, you should fertilize every month with a 10-10-10 fertilizer. Mulch the area and water at least once a week.
Growing In Planters Outdoors
Geraniums can be grown in planters on the porch, patio or garden. The ivy type geraniums are great for hanging baskets and window boxes. Make sure you use a container that is big enough for the plant or it will wilt (you may need to replant to prevent wilting as the plant grows). Use a soil that has enough aeration - either a commercial made mix or garden soil mixed with peat moss or perlite. Make sure you water it frequently but do not let it sit in water.
The Martha Washington geraniums are not suited for outdoor growing but can be beautiful indoor plants. Put our plant in a sunny window for best flowering. Plant in a well drained soil and use a fertilizer formulated for indoor plants. Fertilize monthly when plant is flowering but cut back to every two months in the fall and winter. Your geranium will do best if the day time temps are around 65 degrees with night temperature around 55.
Geraniums are hardy, but like any plant can be susceptible to disease. Some common disease are Black Leg where the stem becomes blackened and the leaves fall off, Leaf Spot where leaves become spotted and drop off, Gray Mold where the plant has gray moldy spots, Rust where the plant gets rusty looking spots and leaves turn yellow and drop off, Root Knot nematodes -swelled roots and stunted growth and Dropsy which produces lesions on the plants.
To combat most disease, remove all leaves that are infected, make sure you do not take cuttings from any plant with disease. When watering make sure you do not splash the leaves.
Some common geranium pests include:
Caterpillars - some caterpillars like to much on geraniums (perhaps they have heard of itís medicinal properties?). These can be controlled with sprays.
Aphids - try controlling aphids with ladybugs or a special spray.
Whitefly - usually starts in the greenhouse but can spread to the garden on infested plants. Small white
flies and black sooty goop can be seen on the leaves which will fall off after turning yellow. Can be controlled with sprays.
Mites - Causes leaves to curl and drop off - control with sprays.
Termites - Subterranean termites tunnel through the stems of geraniums causing them to turn yellow and die. Treat the soil with the appropriate termite treatment. Donít let them get to your house!
Slugs - slugs love gardens but they also love beer. Leave a saucer out and you will catch more than your fair share of slugs!
Lee Dobbins writes for http://www.geranium-flowers.com where you can find out more about geraniums. Visit http://www.geranium-flowers.com/Geranium-Care.html for more on Geranium care.