Caring for Geraniums

Geraniums bloom throughout the summer, require only infrequent watering and come in many great colors.  Did you know that the plants we commonly refer to as “Geraniums” do not belong to the genus Geranium, but rather to an entirely different genus, Pelargonium? Both genera belong to the family Geraniaceae. Linnaeus originally included all the species in one genus, Geranium, but they were later separated into two genera by Charles L’Héritier in 1789.

Pelargonium species are evergreen perennials indigenous to Southern Africa, and are drought and heat tolerant, but can tolerate only minor frosts. They are extremely popular garden plants, grown as annual bedding plants in temperate regions like the US.

Care Tips

Plant geraniums when the soil is warm and the frosts are over. Geraniums like well-drained soil and need a full day of sun. Pick a sunny spot and cover the earth with compost or peat moss. Till the soil and plant the geranium as deep as the pot it came in. The ideal pH of the soil should be 6.5.

Spread mulch around your geraniums to retain moisture. Feed your plant. An all-purpose liquid fertilizer every two to three weeks during the growing season will help your geranium stay strong.

Water your geraniums early in the day. They don't like to have wet leaves, so water them carefully. A morning watering allows time for any splashes on the leaves to evaporate. Geraniums only need watering once a week or so, depending on precipitation and temperature.

Deadhead your geraniums to increase the blooms. Pull off dead leaves and passed blossoms. This will also stop the spread of diseases, such as black leg, gray mold, rust and leaf spots.

Watch for insects. Caterpillars love to eat geraniums. A spray from your local garden center will repel caterpillars, aphids, whiteflies and mites.