- 30.12.2020 /
The end of the winter period is an important date for gardeners, because from this point on the danger of overnight frosts is usually over and there’s nothing to stop you planting up tubs and containers on balconies and terraces. The experts at Pelargonium for Europe give you tips on what to look out for when planting, so you can enjoy lush foliage and fabulous flowers all summer long.
The right planter
The choice of balcony boxes, planters and tubs is huge. Before planting, think about what sort of planter you need for the job. Whatever you choose, it’s important that the container is large enough. Pick a pot around 20 cm high so the plant roots have plenty of room. Many plants, such as geraniums, grow very vigorously, so it’s fine if they look a bit lost at first after planting. As a rule of thumb, don’t plant more than two plants in a 40cm-long balcony box, or a maximum of three in a 60cm box. A pot with a 15-18cm diameter should only hold a single geranium. The colour and material of your planter is up to you but remember moisture evaporates more quickly from darker containers than lighter ones and more quickly from clay or terracotta containers than plastic ones.
Tip: You can cut the amount of watering needed by incorporating a water reservior.
The right compost
As well as the right planter, the right compost makes a big difference to how well your plants will do. But which is the right compost? With the huge choice available in specialist shops and garden centres, there’s no easy answer. As a rule, you can’t go wrong with a high-quality all-purpose potting compost. These composts have good water retention and drainage capacity, are structurally stable, provide secure root hold, allow enough air to reach the roots and contain all the necessary nutrients. If you want to give your plants a little something extra, you can also use specialist geranium compost. The nutrient content and composition of these composts is precisely tailored to the needs of specific plant groups. Geranium compost, for example, has an extra-high nutrient content, so you can also use it for other ‘hungry’ plants. You can also mix your own special planting medium, if you like. You’ll find all the ingredients you need, as well as expert advice and a big choice of ready-mixed soils in specialist garden centres.
The right planting technique
Whether geraniums or other summer flowers, the basic method for planting is actually always the same. First cover the bottom of the planter with a drainage layer of crocks, such as terracotta pot shards, clay pebbles or similar materials. This leaves the drainage holes free to allow excess water to escape. Next fill the pot to about three-quarters full with potting compost and press down lightly. If you have very hungry plants such as geraniums, remember to use either a pre-fertilised compost or mix a long-term fertiliser into the compost when planting. Now water the root ball of your plants thoroughly one last time before placing them in the container. Make sure you leave enough space between each one. Vigorous plants, such as geraniums, should be spaced at least 20cm apart. Ideally, the root ball should be flush with the compost surface.
If necessary, add a little more compost until you’re left with a watering rim of about 2cm and press the plants in lightly. Finally water the plant so the soil settles a little.
Important: Even with a water reservoir, water your plants lightly from above for the first few weeks until their root systems have developed enough.
Planting combinations with geraniums
Geraniums are regarded as the absolute stars among planter and balcony plants. They’re easy to care for, robust, free-flowering and get top marks for their a wide range of colours, varied growth habits, flower and leaf forms. In big enough planters, geraniums work really well with other flowering and foliage plants, as long as they have similar location preferences and care requirements. This summery arrangement of sun-loving geraniums, verbena and sage will wow you with its wealth of flowers and colours and will also provide plenty of food for bees and other insects.