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  A Geranium That is Not A Geranium
  June 10th, 2006

We Love our Pelargoniums!

Just a note here: What most gardeners know as a “geranium” is probably a plant of the genus pelargonium and not the genus geranium (more commonly known as cranesbills). We are using the term ‘geranium’ here in deference to the common usage.

There are four main types of garden geraniums: zonal geraniums, Martha Washington geraniums, the scented-leaf geraniums, and ivy geraniums.

Zonal geraniums (pelargonium hortorum):
The most popular garden geranium, getting their name from the “zoned” leaf markings. They have clusters of individual flowers held on long stems above the foliage. There are many cultivars, with wide range of brilliant flower color and attractive leaves. Most will grow about 3 ft. tall.

Martha Washington geraniums (pelargonium domesticum):
The group known as the ‘orchid of geraniums.’ Flowers are orchid-like blooms; colors may be white, pink, red, purple, or mixed colors. These geraniums require cool (50 to 60°F) night temperatures in order to bloom. They may stop flowering in the heat of the summer but will resume once the weather cools in the fall.

Scented-leaf geraniums (pelargonium – various species and hybrids):
Grown for their beautifully scented foliage. They vary in shape, size, flower color and growth habit. Foliage fragrances include rose, chocolate, mint, apple, lemon, lime, ginger and nutmeg.

Ivy geraniums (pelargonium peltatum):
Named for the ivy-shaped foliage and trailing growth habit; flower colors are more pastel than zonals. Ideal for hanging baskets; also great for window boxes, or as ground covers in a protected location. They like moderate temperatures. If the temperature is between 65 and 80 degrees F, put them in full sun. If it is hotter than that, move them to an area with partial sun.

For planting geraniums in flower beds, work in a complete fertilizer before planting. Use a high phosphate fertilizer such as a rose food, every 4 to 6 weeks during the growing season. Space plants 10 to 12 inches apart. Water well after planting, but don’t overwater, these plants like to stay moist, but need good drainage.

For planting in containers, use a good quality Potting Soil, and use 1 or 2 Nutri-Paks to provide continuing nutrients. Water thoroughly when the soil is dry to the touch (so water comes through the drainage holes).

If you find that your geranium is not blooming in the middle of the summer, you will probably see holes in the flower buds. The Geranium Bud Worm is famous for eliminating summer bloom. But, there is hope. Use Bayer Rose & Flower insect spray. This will eliminate the worm and keep on working for 6 to 8 weeks.

Geraniums of all sorts are a great addition to your home and garden. Try a few this year for your window boxes, hanging baskets, and flowerbeds.

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