- 20.01.2022 /
Geraniums are the absolute classic among flowering bedding and balcony plants yet they’re anything but old-fashioned. They are the perfect choice for window boxes, hanging baskets, containers and flower beds in sunny locations thanks to their irrepressible blooming, long flowering period and a variety of colours and shapes that is hard to beat.
Geraniums can withstand periods of heat as well as temporary drought and are resilient and largely resistant to plant diseases and pests. What’s more, geranium care is so straightforward that even gardening novices can enjoy this blooming beauty. The experts at Pelargonium for Europe reveal the tips that will help this native South African plant achieve maximum flower power.
Sun and lots of space
The wild forms of our modern geraniums originate from the Cape region in South Africa. So it’s no surprise that the modern cultivated varieties also love the sun. The more sun they get, the more at home they feel and the more flowers they produce.
But geraniums can also thrive in partial shade. When planting, make sure they have plenty of room to grow. Planters mustn’t be shallower than 18cm deep and there should be a minimum distance of 20cm between plants.
Plenty of nutrients
Geraniums flower profusely and continuously from spring to autumn. In order to remain healthy and hardy and to keep producing new flowers over many months, they need plenty of energy and nutrients. That is why they are also known as ‘heavy feeders’. If you plant geraniums in pre-fertilised potting compost, they can usually cover their needs in the first few weeks completely from the nutrients they have on hand. If you use a slow-release fertiliser, this can be the case for several months.
At some point, however, the nutrients will be exhausted, even with the use of most slow-release fertilisers and very high-quality compost, so additional fertilising becomes necessary. Commercially available liquid fertiliser for flowering plants contains all the nutrients that geraniums need to grow and thrive.
The composition of special geranium fertiliser is perfectly adapted to the needs of this balcony beauty. A good, natural geranium fertiliser is coffee grounds, as these contain just the right mix of potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen to provide all the nutrients geraniums need for optimal growth. To ensure an even supply of nutrients, we recommend weekly applications of fertiliser. As the season draws to a close in September or October, the plants no longer need additional nutrients.
Geraniums can store a lot of moisture in their fleshy leaves and stems. This means they can usually cope with temporary dry spells with ease. However, they need plenty of water to flower abundantly. Geraniums should therefore be watered regularly, preferably with rainwater and in the early morning. On very hot summer days, it is sensible to water a second time in the evening. If possible, the water should be poured directly onto the soil and not over the foliage.
It may also be necessary to water during rainy weather if the dense foliage of the geraniums prevents the rainwater from penetrating to the roots. It is easy to check whether the soil is moist enough with your finger.
Important: Geraniums do not tolerate waterlogging at all, so make sure you have good drainage and effective water run-off when planting.
Tip: For those who don’t have the time or inclination to water every day, planters with a water reservoir are a good idea. These reduce watering requirements considerably.
Remove dead plant material
It is worth removing withered flower shoots and leaves regularly. On one hand, the geraniums simply look better, and on the other, the deadheading stimulates the plants to form new flowers instead of putting their energy into the formation of seeds, boosting further flowering.
You don’t need scissors or a knife to remove the flowers. You can simply pull off the faded flower with your fingers. Incidentally, pruning is more important with semi-double and double varieties than with single-flowering geraniums, whereas self-cleaning varieties don’t need to be deadheaded at all.