Is summer already over? Geraniums are still beautiful even in autumn

Soon it will be here again; that one day. That day when the air smells of autumn, when the sun noticeably loses its strength, and the shadows are longer. A pity, but no reason to be sad. After all, there are geraniums. With them, summer goes on longer. The experts at Pelargonium for Europe (PfE) explain how these perennial beauties from South Africa bloom well into autumn.

For good reason, young and old alike, in the city and in the countryside, all over Europe love geraniums. Not only do its flowers glow in myriad colours and transform sunny to semi-shaded balconies and terraces into flowering retreats from spring to autumn but the geranium is what is known as ‘a grateful plant’. Very robust and easy to care for, it makes few demands on its owner.

And you don’t have to replace it with autumn plants as early as September. After very hot, exhausting summers, all geraniums are at their best when temperatures cool down. And, with the right strategy, this top form can be maintained until the first frost.

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Continue fertilising

Geraniums that are to grow and bloom need nutrients, so continue to fertilise them, even if at half strength. Long-term fertiliser in the soil is slowly used up in autumn. A top-up fertiliser will give the plants another boost.

Don't water so much any more

On hot summer days, reaching for the watering can was as much a part of everyday life as brushing your teeth, but in autumn it’s time to water less. The soil evaporates less water, and so do the geraniums.

The experts’ tip: first check how the soil feels, then water.

A place in the sun

As the sun gets lower, the shade cast by trees and buildings changes. In autumn, a tub, container or box may only get a few hours of direct sunlight a day. If you can find a sunny spot for your geraniums, despite the autumn light, you will have more flowers.

Overwintering geraniums - goodbye next year

If you want to try to overwinter your geraniums, leave them outside as long as possible. Fresh air and sunlight are always better than indoor wintering. If temperatures remain permanently in the single digits, move your geraniums into an overwintering spot. Cut back the shoots to about 15cm and place the pots in a cool place (5-10°C), such as a conservatory or greenhouse. In spring, the plants must be carefully reintroduced to light. This will take more patience than with new plants before they bloom again. Wintering is therefore mainly worthwhile for rare varieties or for special growth habits.