By Majo Bates,
I so like geraniums and I used to admire them in others’ yards. I tried for years to grow them but not with very good results. I never could understand why mine did not do well. I was sharing this with another Master Gardener, Janet Klie of Hoyleton. I had also expressed that I felt I was wasting money on them. Geraniums can really be expensive, especially if they die within a month or so!!! Janet and I talked extensively about how I care for them. She told me immediately what I was doing wrong and also a method of saving them over the winter. I want to share what I have learned.
1. I was watering them way too often. These plants need to be grown in well-drained potting soil. They also require at least six to eight hours of sunlight. The soil needs to dry out somewhat before watering.
2. Space geranium plants about 8 to 12 inches apart to give them plenty of room to bloom. Plant them around the same depth as their original planting pots. Mulching the plants is also highly recommended to help retain moisture. I was planting them way too close.
Geraniums (Pelargonium x hortorum) make popular bedding plants in the garden. They are also very popular as potted plants, in hanging baskets, and many folks like to keep them indoors. They make wonderful plants for the elderly in nursing homes, assisted living quarters, or living in their own homes with assistance.
I personally enjoy planting most of my geraniums as potted plants. They need six to eight hours of sunlight, so my deck seems to be perfect. And since these plants must be protected from cold, wait until the threat of frost has passed before planting. Just think of the shock if you buy from a hot greenhouse and put them out where it is too cool.
Janet also shared with me, in addition to watering geraniums in hot weather, they should be watered deeply. Once the soil begins to dry out, they need to be fertilized with a water-soluble fertilizer or a 5-10-5 fertilizer and maybe some additional organic matter every four to six weeks during their active growing season. Please avoid overhead irrigation, as this can cause pests or disease issues. With potted plants, if your plants look too crowded or are not growing, re-pot to a larger pot.
I also learned from Janet to over-winter my geraniums as follows: Dig up the geraniums before the first sign of frost in the late fall. Place plants in a large paper bag with the soil still around the roots and the roots up toward the opening of the bag. I was able to put about four plants into each brown paper bag. Do not remove leaves or blooms. Then place another brown paper bag over the top of the bag holding your plants. Take the covered sacks to your basement and put them in a dry place. In the spring after all signs of frost have passed, bring out your sacks and take off the cover. I let mine set for 24 hours to get accustomed to the temperature. I filled pots with good potting soil. The geraniums will look horrible when you bring them out of the sacks. That is okay. You should gently remove leaves and be careful to remove only any dead leaves or laterals. Old blooms can be removed at this time if the stem is dead. Now plant them and water with fertilizer. It will take a couple of weeks to really start greening up, but it is amazing how great this works. Regular deadheading of spent blooms will also help encourage additional blooms.
I have had so much fun with this, and I hope you will also. Have a blast in your garden. After all, God began it all in His garden.
Majo’s Tips For Care Of Geraniums