Overwhelmed by the large selection of summer flowers? If you’re looking for hardy, easy-care flowers that love to bloom in sunny to semi-shady locations, geraniums are a smart choice. From mid-April, this queen of the summer flowers can be found everywhere in nurseries and garden centres. The experts at Pelargonium for Europe (PfE) know just what to look for when buying geraniums.
1. Choose bushy plants
If you want to enjoy your geraniums from day one, choose plants that have so many leaves on strong stems that you can hardly see the soil in the pot. Bushy geraniums with strong shoots have had enough time with the grower to grow into healthy plants. In addition to foliage, they also have a well-developed root ball. Geraniums need both to grow quickly.
2. Choose geraniums with plenty of buds
If you want your garden, balcony or terrace to quickly turn into a flowering, tranquil oasis, your geraniums should have lots of buds right from the start. Why? Because geraniums are light-loving plants that need it to flower. They absorb the sun’s rays and only when they have reached a certain threshold of light do they begin to bloom. If they have very few buds, you’ll have to wait and hope for a lot of sun in the coming weeks.
3. Buy the right number of geraniums
Before heading to the garden centre, you should know how many plants you need. To develop well, geraniums need plenty of space. In a 40cm box there is room for two geraniums, at 60cm there’s space for three, and at 1m you can fit four to five. A pot with a diameter of 20-25cm can accommodate a single geranium. Important: Geranium pots should be at least 18cm tall.
4. Buy suitable pot sizes
In addition to the number of plants, you should also know the pot sizes you need. For example, geraniums in 11-12cm pots are perfect for planting in balcony boxes, while XL geraniums in pots with a diameter of 13 cm or more are better suited for tubs and other larger containers, as they’ll look great right from the start. You should only buy geraniums in packs of six if you want to put a lot of time and love into nurturing them. They have had little time to grow and need weeks to reach the stage of development of the larger ones.
5. The right time to buy
In Europe, greenhouses are filled with geraniums from the beginning to middle of April. The greatest variety is available at the beginning of May. If you can’t protect your plants from the cold, don’t buy them too early. Geraniums should only be planted outdoors permanently when there is no longer a threat of frost at night and temperatures reach double-digit degrees during the day. In northern latitudes, this is around mid-May.
Tip: Remember potting soil and fertiliser!
When you go geranium shopping, buy high-quality potting compost at the same time. For an 80cm balcony box, for example, you need about 30 litres of compost, whereas for a pot with a 20cm diameter, it’s about four litres. You should also think about fertiliser. Although most composts are pre-fertilised, the experts at PfE recommend using a slow-release fertiliser when planting. Geraniums are vigorous growers and have a very high nutrient requirement. Pre-fertilised compost usually only covers this requirement for a few weeks.
Important: To ensure that the nutrient supply lasts until the end of the season in autumn, choose a 9-month fertiliser. If the temperature rises above 20°C, the plant will usually use up the nutrients several weeks before the expected end of the fertilisation period and will need to be re-fertilised.
Detailed advice on all aspects of geranium care is available from specialist retailers.