Many varieties of geraniums and pelargoniums exist. The Americana Cranberry Red geranium is among the loveliest member of this species and is popular for home garden landscaping throughout the United States. It forms abundant clusters of large cranberry-red colored flowers in the summer months. In warmer climate zones, this geranium performs as a perennial; in more northerly areas, it is grown as an annual.
History and Description
The original geraniums and pelargoniums are native to South Africa. They began to appear in Europe in the 1600s. Approximately 300 species of geraniums exist, with many hybrid varieties having been developed. The Cranberry geranium grows best in outdoor planting areas that receive full sun, and it can be relatively drought tolerant during hot, dry weather while continuing to provide colorful blossoms to your landscape.
Growing a Cranberry Geranium
Plant your cranberry geranium in a spot that gets full sun most of the day. If you have an area with sandy soil, your cranberry geranium will do well, especially if you add compost to your planting hole. Wait until after your final spring frost before you plant this tender perennial. If you live in USDA climate zone 9, 10 or 11, you can plant this geranium at any time of year.
Water your plant well after you first plant it, but afterward, allow the soil to dry before you water it again. If you have added compost to the planting area, fertilizer isn't necessary, but you can help this plant by giving it a balanced plant food once or twice during its active growing season.
Cranberry Geranium as a Container Plant
The cranberry geranium makes an attractive potted plant for areas such as patios, decks and lanais. It also serves well as in a hanging container. Give your potted cranberry geranium the same care you give one planted in the ground. They look especially nice when you plant several together in the same large container---this will give a burst of their vibrant red flowers.
Controlling Insect Pests
The cranberry geranium is subject to attack from slugs, aphids and some caterpillars. Keep slugs and snails away by encircling your planting area with iron phosphate granules or diatomaceous earth. You can also "hand pick" these creatures during their active nighttime feeding frenzy. Spray with insecticidal soap to eliminate aphids. Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a natural soil hormone that you can purchase at nurseries---it kills small caterpillars.
Creating More Plants
If you love your cranberry geranium and want to create more plants without having to purchase them, you can take cuttings and root them. Cut off non-blooming branches about four inches long and then strip the leaves off the lower two inches. Dip them into a rooting hormone if you wish, and then insert them into small nursery pots with standard potting soil.
Keep your cuttings warm and moist and expect them to develop roots within about two weeks. When your cuttings begin to show signs of strong new growth, transplant them to your garden or into containers.