Monday, May 7, 2018

Geraniums for Grandma

Grandma loved geraniums, especially those with red blooms.  Each Mother’s Day, I honored Grandma’s passion by giving her red geranium plants for the garden. Grandma’s ice-blue eyes would sparkle when I presented them, so I think of her now when I see red geraniums flourishing in anyone’s garden bed. Although I truly share Grandma’s love for geraniums, I prefer plants that bloom in shades of pink, burgundy or white. 

There are dozens of cultivars and colors available each spring, but they are quite compatible and can be combined effectively in a sun-garden design or large container.  Light pink with bright pink, burgundy with white, red with white… a plethora of Pelargonium (the actual genus for these sun lovers, which thrive on 5 or 6 hours of daily sunshine.)

In a container setting, geraniums work well with a variety of sun-loving plants—including succulents.  Pelargonium geraniums originated in South Africa, and they are drought tolerant once established.   

TIPS: Overwatering causes more issues than underwatering; try not to wet the foliage while watering.  Also note even sun geraniums might take a “time out” during hottest weeks of summer; they likely will push new buds when temps cool down.  Don’t be tempted to fertilize during hot weather. A nitrogen rich fertilizer will encourage foliage growth but discourage new blooms.

Another variety is known as an ivy geranium (Pelargonium peltatum), which exhibits trailing stems rather than upright.  I have grown this herbaceous cascading plant with red blooms, as well as a burgundy cultivar; their leaves have a slight sheen and they prefer a part-sun environment.  Ivy geraniums look amazing trailing over edges of a large container, or a hanging planter.

With Mother’s Day approaching, consider purchasing a small basket and placing a few geranium plants in it, filling in the spaces with dried moss.  

Give it to your Grandma (or your Mom) … then watch her eyes sparkle!

Happy Mother's Day!

M. Lynn Schmid,   Certified Master Gardener
 A.A.S. Landscape/Horticulture/Arboriculture