Create Your Own Paradise with Vibrant Annual Geranium Varieties

Kevin Brown

Geranium plants are cherished by garden enthusiasts worldwide for their vibrant colors and easy growth. They can be used as indoor or outdoor plants and are perfect for enhancing your front entrance or beautifying walkways. No matter where you choose to plant them, geraniums are sure to impress.

The Geranium: An Overview

Create Your Own Paradise with Vibrant Annual Geranium Varieties

The plant known as a geranium is not a true geranium but rather part of the pelargonium family, native to South Africa. True perennial geraniums are also called Cranesbill but are less common than the annual pelargonium varieties.

While most gardeners grow pelargoniums as annuals, they can survive as perennials in certain warm climates. Even if grown as outdoor annuals, they can be overwintered inside and brought back outside in the spring.

Here are some quick facts about annual geraniums:

– Botanical name: Pelargonium

– Light: Full sun for some varieties, partial shade tolerated by others

– Water: Regular watering during the growing season, taper during dormancy indoors

– Fertilizer: All-purpose plant food every 4-6 weeks in spring and summer

– Pests: Thrips, budworm, mealybugs, spider mites, caterpillars, aphids, slugs

– Diseases: Gray mold, mildew

– Soil: Well-drained neutral soil for most varieties

– Climate Zones: Hardy in Zones 10-11

– Size: Varies from 5 inches to 4 feet, depending on the type

– Foliage: Ruffled green leaves, with specialized varieties in gold, chartreuse, bronze, and red

– Toxicity: Annual geraniums are toxic to cats and dogs

– Flowers: Available in red, white, pink, orange, purple, and mauve.

Geranium Varieties

There are six common varieties of annual geranium plants.

  • Zonal geraniums – Tight mounding and upright flowers with scalloped leaves featuring dark arcs/stripes
  • Ivy geraniums – Cascading growth pattern with ivy-shaped leaves
  • Interspecific geraniums – A cross between zonal and ivy geraniums with the qualities of both varieties
  • Regal geraniums – Cool season annual with majestic bi-colored blooms
  • Scented geraniums – Leaves of scented geranium varieties have rose, lemon, citronella, nutmeg, apple, and oak. Flowers are less lush on these varieties
  • Angel geraniums – A cross between regal and scented geraniums. Range in size from dwarf to larger varieties
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Geranium Care Guide

Taking care of geranium plants is easy, yet they have a significant impact on hanging baskets, containers, and garden borders.

Light Needs

Geranium varieties thrive in sunlight. They need at least 6 hours of full sun per day for optimal bloom. In hot climates, provide some afternoon shade.

Zonal varieties can tolerate some shade, while regal varieties prefer it.

Water Needs

Geraniums should be watered regularly due to their sun exposure. Water the plants when the soil feels dry at the top, whether they are in the ground or in pots.

Each time you water, let the water reach the plant’s roots, but avoid allowing it to accumulate and cause root rot. Ensure that the soil where you have planted the geraniums, either in the ground or in a pot with drainage holes, allows water to flow through.

Soil Conditions:

Geraniums thrive in well-draining soil with a neutral to acidic pH. If your soil is heavy, add peat, compost, or perlite to lighten it. Most geranium varieties prefer a pH of 6.5, while Ivy and Regal varieties prefer a pH of 5.3 – 6.

The University of Massachusetts Amherst Center for Agriculture recommends using soilless mixtures for greater control over the physical and chemical properties of the medium. However, it is important to experiment on a small scale and transition gradually to lightweight mixtures due to their rapid drying time.

When growing outdoor geraniums, it is ideal to have average temperatures of around 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 60 degrees Fahrenheit at night. These conditions promote optimum growth. Temperatures below 50 degrees or above 85 degrees can stunt growth and cause leaf discoloration or decreased plant growth in certain varieties.

Fertilizer

Geraniums require fertilization to thrive, but too much will increase foliage and decrease flowers. Use a water soluble plant food with thorough waterings. Mix 2 tablespoons of solution with a gallon of water.

Feed every 4-6 weeks during the high growing season and taper for overwintering geraniums.

Pests and Diseases

Several common geranium diseases are associated with crowding and overwatering. Watch for discolored and shedding leaves. Remove infected plants.

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Avoid overwatering to prevent root rot and mildew.

An insecticide can control common geranium pests like aphids, cankerworms, spider mites, scales, and slugs.

When overwintering plants indoors, watch for spider mites. Signs of infestation include dry leaves, webbing, or white specks. Use horticultural oil, such as neem oil, to treat spider mites.

Propagation:

Geraniums are excellent for propagating from stem cuttings. Cut a stem (4-6 inches long) just below a node, remove lower leaves, and place in potting soil in a well-lit area. Water when topsoil is dry.

Alternatively, place the stem in water and roots will develop in about 4 weeks.

To plant young geraniums outdoors, acclimate them to outdoor conditions over one week. Bring them outside to a sheltered location daily. After one week, plant them outdoors in spring or early summer. Geraniums require minimal pruning. Remove spent flowers for more reblooming and trim leggy growth for a compact plant.

Here are some annual geranium varieties for home gardens: ‘Calliope Dark Red’.

Create Your Own Paradise with Vibrant Annual Geranium Varieties

This is a popular dark red geranium variety, a cross between an ivy and zonal geranium. It grows vigorously, with deep red flowers and leaves of zonal color. Its growth pattern is mound-like and semi-trailing.

Create Your Own Paradise with Vibrant Annual Geranium Varieties

This ivy geranium variety has medium pink flowers and a trailing growth habit. It is suitable for hanging baskets and containers.

Create Your Own Paradise with Vibrant Annual Geranium Varieties

This scented geranium has leaves that smell like lemons and petite lavender flowers.

Create Your Own Paradise with Vibrant Annual Geranium Varieties

This lovely angel geranium features white flowers and a unique red feathering pattern. It has a compact growth pattern.

Create Your Own Paradise with Vibrant Annual Geranium Varieties

This is a zonal geranium with bright pink flowers that grow upright and dense. In hot climates, this geranium grows best with partial shade.

Create Your Own Paradise with Vibrant Annual Geranium Varieties

This regal variety features deep red geranium flowers that are small and compact. The plant grows just 12 inches tall, making it ideal for containers or delicate border edging.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What are the best pots for geraniums?

Geraniums look gorgeous in containers of various styles and sizes. In general, choose a pot that is at least 12 inches tall and has good drainage holes. If you are mounding geraniums or using ivy geraniums, opt for a taller pot with a larger circumference.

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Where can I find geraniums for sale?

Common annual geraniums are available at most home improvement stores and local nurseries. If you’re looking for more specific varieties, check out nurseries that sell online. Ensure that the geraniums are zoned for your location before making a purchase.

Are rose geranium leaves edible?

Rose geraniums are a type of scented geranium used in various culinary and beauty preparations. Use washed, pesticide-free leaves to flavor sugar, cakes, cookies, summer drinks, simple syrup, and ice cream.

You can make your own scented geranium oil by using fragrant leaves. Take pesticide-free scented geranium leaves and place them in a jar filled with sesame or olive oil, ensuring the leaves are fully covered. Keep the jar in a warm, sunny location for one week. After that, strain out the old leaves and add new leaves to the oil. Repeat this process for five weeks.

Remember to store the oil away from direct sunlight. Keep in mind that although geranium oil is generally safe for most people, it may cause skin irritations, such as a rash, in some individuals.

In conclusion, rose geraniums are a versatile plant that can be used in both culinary and beauty applications.

Geraniums are beautiful plants that are easy to grow and have many uses. Use them for a stunning front door display or lush hanging baskets. You can also use scented varieties in cooking and to make beauty oil with anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.

Whatever your objective, geraniums will repay your investments with beauty all summer long.

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