Commonly known as cranesbill, geraniums encompass some four hundred species of flowers. In the wild, the flower is mostly found in the Mediterranean region and has five petals that are lifted up. They come in white, pink, purple, or blue. Some come in bush or shrub like arrangements and others grow as a single stem with one or two blooms. The flowers all have distinct veins making them easy to spot and recognize.
Growing Requirements for Geraniums
Geraniums need to be placed in well-drained soil but also need to be rich in humus. These plants are long lived and can often survive the winter if taken care of properly. The flowers require full sun but some can survive in partial shade just fine. These plants should be planted in late May for the best results and cuttings should be taken in August for the next seasons plants. Geraniums will not survive a frost and so should not be planted until any threat of a frost is past.
Taking Care of Geraniums
Geraniums require regular watering but too much and the roots will rot. Fertilizers should be used at least once in order to keep the soil rich in nutrients. The plant should be watered directly after a fertilizer treatment in order to make sure that the compounds reach the roots. Pinching off buds will encourage the branching of stems and additional blooms. Also, dead or wilting flowers should be removed in order to promote healthy blooms for the entire season and even through the wintering period. If the plants are grown indoors they will survive the winter season.
History and Uses of Geraniums
The common garden geranium is a South African native and was introduced to the European garden in around 1600. The plant’s seeds had found their way to England by 1631. These plants are extremely popular in gardens, and because of their native environment, they are known for being heat and drought tolerant.
Common Geranium Diseases and Pests
The geranium can be infested by common bugs and insects including a species known as Angle Shades. However, the plant has actually been known to deter mosquitoes and Japanese beetles. In fact, scientific studies found that the beetle can become paralyzed after parts of the flower were consumed by the insect. But for those insects that eat geraniums, insecticide treatments can help prevent extensive damage.
The diseases affecting the geranium the most is the flower break and line pattern viruses. Both come from the same family of viruses. Funguses can also affect the flowers and treatments of fungicides can help with the problem.
Additional Information on Geraniums
Additional information on geraniums can be found on the following websites:
University of Massachusetts Amherst covers Growing Quality Geraniums.
Details on overwintering the geranium plant can be found on the Iowa State University website.
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