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You Can Grow It: Geraniums are easy to grow and look great on any home landscape

Garden master Jim Duthie tells us more about geraniums, along with some helpful tips on how to keep them looking great.

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.

Garden master Jim Duthie tells us more about geraniums, along with some helpful tips on how to keep them looking great.

Among my favorite container flowers are geraniums. They add a nice burst of color, and they thrive in pots and containers, making them 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.

Regardless of the type of geranium, they’re all fairly easy to grow and care for. When you transplant them into a container, use good potting soil. Make sure the pot has good drainage, too. Geraniums won’t tolerate soggy soil.

Sometimes, depending on how big the drainage holes in your pots are, the water, and sometimes even some of the soil, tends to run out.

Here’s a product made by an Idaho company that helps with that problem. They’re called Drain Smart Container Drainage Discs.

They come in different sizes to match the bottom of your container. They’ll help keep the soil from draining out of the pot, while improving water drainage and preventing root rot. And you can use them in place of rocks, gravel or bark.

Dig a hole as deep as the original container, and about twice as wide, and gently firm the soil around it. Then water it in.

After that, water deeply when the soil dries out, about once a week. Apply fertilizer about once a month, and remove any spent flowers to encourage more blooming.

The process of removing the spent flowers and dead leaves is called deadheading. It’s easy to do, and it only takes a minute or two once or twice a week. It will keep your geranium looking attractive and it will encourage 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 10-14 days, you’ll have a new flower head blooming.

Geraniums like about four to six 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.

Most geraniums will grow from one to two feet tall and wide, so give them some room to spread. Water regularly with good drainage, feed them some slow-release fertilizer about once a month, and you’ll have bright, colorful blooms that will last throughout the summer.

And here’s something you probably didn’t know – there are over 400 different kinds of geraniums. They can be grown from seed, but are often propagated by starting new plants from cuttings off of another plant. Geraniums are 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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