Geranium - Garden Basics - Flower - Perennial

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Plant InformationType: perennial
Propagation: cuttings
Light: sun, partial shade
Flower Color: whites, pinks, reds
Height: varies
Width: varies
Soil Requirements: well-drained, medium rich
Zones: 9-10 if left outdoors
Uses: containers, beds, borders, window boxes, hanging baskets

These South African natives will grow in most any garden with minimum care.Colors range from white, subtle pinks and brilliant reds to purplish black. In Zones 9-10, geraniums grow outdoors from year to year with little attention and become shrubby plants 4 to 5 feet tall, but in frost zones they are grown as small, delicate annuals. Geraniums can be grown in containers and brought indoors during the winter.

Ivy and common geraniums make superb bed, border and pot plants because they bloom throughout the garden season. The trailing stems of ivy geranium make it particularly effective in window boxes and hanging baskets or as a flowering ground cover. The Martha Washington is a less successful summer-flowering plant in many sections of the country since it needs temperatures below 60° to bud. It is often grown by florists as a flowering pot plant for Mother's Day and Memorial Day.

Variety Features
Martha Washington 1-2 feet tall with huge clusters of 2-4 inch single and double blossoms. Does well in beds and pots. Needs temperatures below 60 degrees to bud.
Ivy Geraniums Ivy shaped leaves and trailing growth, graceful stems that extend sideways up to 4 feet. Does well in beds or pots -- especially window boxes and hanging baskets. Also a good summer ground cover.
Zonal Geraniums 1-2 feet tall (up to 6 feet in zones 9-10) with concentric markings on leaves.
Scented Geraniums See separate article.

Home gardeners usually buy geraniums as budded or flowering pot-grown plants ready to set into the garden. Most plants are raised from cuttings since common geraniums take five months to flower from seed. To start plants from seed, sow seeds indoors eight to 10 weeks before the last frost is due. Young seedlings should be transplanted into 2-inch pots when the first true leaves appear and shifted to 4-inch pots as they become larger. Keep the pots on a sunny window sill. The seeds germinate unevenly over a period of three to eight weeks. Transfer them to the garden outdoors after the danger of frost is past, setting them about a foot apart. When growing ivy geraniums in garden beds, place the plants 12 to 18 inches apart and pin the stems down with bent pieces of wire to train them to grow close to the ground.

Most geraniums thrive in climates with dry summers, warm days and cool nights. They do best in full sun but grow well in partial shade if they have sun at least half of each day. The soil should be well drained and only medium rich.

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