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 Ė 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 flys 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 Ė 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!
About the Author: Lee Dobbins writes for
http://www.geranium-flowers.com where you can find out more about geraniums.
http://www.geranium-flowers.com/Geranium-Care.html for more on Geranium