Geranium Care And Propagation
Geraniums come in a variety of colors from white to pink, salmon, red, shades of violet, and purple, along with several combinations of color. Leaves can also vary in color and shape. Geraniums are one of the most popular outdoor flowers, growing well in the ground, and in planters, and hanging baskets.
Geraniums originated in Africa, where they were used in the making of tea that claimed to have medicinal benefits. Geraniums are also used in oil and ointment to treat a variety of skin conditions. It is claimed that the scent from geraniums improves moods and lowers blood pressure. For most people, geraniums are just a lovely flower that brings us visual pleasure.
GROWING GERANIUMS OUTDOORS
Location And Watering
The ideal place for geraniums is where they will get morning sunlight, and afternoon shade.
As a general rule, you will only need to water the plants deeply, one a week. Geraniums in particularly dry areas will need to be watered more often, as will those in planters and hanging baskets. If you live in a very hot dry area, check the soil every few days, daily for plants in baskets, or containers.
Never water your geraniums if the soil feels damp. Overwatering, especially in heavy soil, can lead to soggy roots, and rot. Geraniums are a flower that hates to have wet feet.
Avoid getting water on the leaves of your geraniums. Water at ground level, with a watering can or soaker, not a sprinkler.
Although geraniums will grow in shaded areas, they will not bloom well there.
Fertilizing And Soil
In order to get large healthy blooms, you must fertilize your geraniums regularly, every two weeks during the growing season. Use a 20.20.20 water soluble fertilizer.
There are some slow-release fertilizers that only need to be used once, at the start of the growing season.
Geraniums need rich, light, well-drained soil. If your soil is heavy, add compost at planting time. Peat moss can be used if compost is not available. If your soil is clay-like, lighten it up with the addition of some sand.
Geraniums like to be kept clean, so check them daily. Remove dead blooms and browned leaves promptly.
Do not plant geraniums outdoors, until the night-time temperature stays above 5o degrees.
GROWING GERANIUMS INDOORS
Growing geraniums indoors, whether over-wintering your outdoor plants, or starting with potted plants is much the same.
Location And Watering
Locate indoor geraniums in a south-facing window. If you do not have windows that face south, west is second best, but you may need to add artificial light for best results. A forty watt bulb, twelve inches above the plant will help it grow normally.
Geraniums want light, not heat, so do not place over heat vents. They also do not like extreme changes of temperature. They will do best at the temperature of the average home, around seventy during the day, and cooler at night.
Check the soil regularly and when it feels dry below the surface, water it thoroughly until some drains out through the bottom of the pot.
Fertilizing And Soil
Use a good quality potting soil for indoor plants, and fertilize monthly.
If you are over-wintering your outdoor plants indoors, plant them in pots large enough for their root systems. Pinch off the top two-thirds of the plant, and any leggy branches. Use the soil that clung to the roots, and fill in with a good potting mix.
Water over-wintering plants sparingly, but do not let the soil dry out completely. When new growth begins to appear, begin fertilizing as you water.
Return your over-wintered plants slowly to the outdoors. Take them out when the days are sunny, but take them inside at night. Leave them out for longer periods of time until the night-time temperatures are above 50 degrees. The plants my then be returned to their garden location.
Remove dead leaves and blooms immediately. Check the leaves regularly for the usual house-plant pests.
HOW TO PROPAGATE GERANIUMS
2. Take cuttings from strong healthy plants, before autumn sets in. Chose cuttings from new growth. They should be about three inches long.
3. Using a sharp knife or razor blade, cut off the lower leaves, leaving only two or three. Make a clean cut across the stem, just below where you see the joint of the leaf.
4. Dip the cut end of the stem in rooting compound, and force it gently into the planting mix. Press the soil carefully around each plant.
5. Place a small stake against each plant, then water thoroughly.
6. Make a tent of plastic wrap around the plant, stake, and pot. Fasten firmly with an elastic band, or tape.
7. Place your plants in a warm, sunny, but not hot window. Check occasionally to make sure the soil does not dry out. In about two months, you will find your plants have rooted.
8. Keep your plants in a well-lit area, until they show growth above the soil. You can then transplant them into larger pots. Pinch off any branches that get to leggy.
You plants will now grow rapidly and be ready for transplanting outdoors in the spring.