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You Can Grow It: Beautiful geraniums

Geraniums are easy to grow and they make a colorful statement no matter where you plant them.

BOISE, Idaho — Geraniums are some of the prettiest and most popular flowers for home gardeners. They come in a variety of colors and look great as accents in containers and hanging baskets.

We learn more about geraniums, with some helpful tips on how to keep them looking great, and how you can propagate new plants yourself.

Geraniums are among my favorite flowers. They offer a brilliant burst of color, and since they thrive in pots and containers, they make a great option for decks, patios and window boxes.” 

Geraniums are a favorite among home gardeners because of their attractive leaves and bright colored flowers that bloom throughout the growing season in shades of red, pink, maroon, salmon and even white.

The most popular are zonal geraniums. They’re called zonal, because of the bands, or zones, of color in their leaves. They produce an upright, ball shaped flower head. These are the ones that you’ll find most readily at garden centers.

Then there are ivy geraniums, with their ivy-like leaves. They’re also called trailing geraniums, and they are best for hanging baskets. Their flowers are a little bit smaller.

There are also scented geraniums. The scent isn’t so much from the flowers, as from the leaves, that may smell like roses, citrus, mint, or various spices. Another variety is the regal, or Martha Washington geranium. It produces the biggest flower heads, often in two-tone colors.

All types of geraniums are easy to care for. They just need good potting soil, that’s kept moist, but not too wet. Once or twice a week, remove any spent flowers and dead leaves, which is called deadheading. This will keep your geraniums looking attractive, and it encourages new growth. Here’s how to do it.

Just follow the stem of the old flower or leaf down to where it attaches to the larger stem, and gently snap it off. Do the same thing with old leaves. Be sure to clean up any dead plant material around the top of the pot to prevent any fungus from growing in the soil. In about a week or two, you’ll have a new flower head blooming.

Geraniums like 4 to 6 hours of bright sunlight each day, but they’ll appreciate a little shade in the hot afternoons. You can even grow geraniums indoors, as long as they get adequate sunlight.

It’s easy to propagate geraniums, or grow new plants, by taking cuttings from your existing geraniums.”

Pick a sturdy stem with healthy leaves, and cut just below a leaf node about 4 to 6 inches from the tip. Remove the lower leaves, giving you 3 to 4 inches of bare stem.

Put the stem in a clear glass jar with enough water to cover the stem but not the leaves. Put it on a sunny windowsill and change the water daily to keep it fresh. After about 4 weeks, you’ll start to see some roots forming at the bottom of the stem.”

You can also grow cuttings in potting mix. It’s not necessary, but you can dip the cut end into powdered rooting hormone. Then make a hole in the potting mix and insert the stem, covering all the places where the leaves were removed. Eventually, new roots will form from those leaf nodes. Again, set it in a sunny spot, and keep the soil moist but not soggy.

When the roots get to be an inch or two long, or when you see new shoots growing at the top, transplant the cuttings into a larger container. I started these new geranium plants from cuttings several weeks ago.

And here’s one that I transplanted earlier this spring. It’s thriving outside on my patio.

Geraniums can grow up to two feet tall and wide, so give them some room to spread. Water regularly, fertilize them about once a month, and you’ll have bright, colorful blooms that will last throughout the summer.

There are over 400 different kinds of geraniums. They’re loved by gardeners the world over for their beauty, but also because they’re so easy to grow and care for.

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