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  HOME AND GARDEN » House Plants

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Plants for your home (By Mary Efanti)

Geranium / Pelargonium

Origin - Description

Most of us consider geraniums to be a “trademark” of Greek landscapes of the Mediterranean in general. However geraniums originate in South Africa. As our climate offers ideal conditions for this plant, geraniums rapidly became one of the most characteristic Mediterranean plants. 

But their name is indeed based on the Greek word geranos (=crane) as their shape reminds of cranes. Geraniums are a big family of plants - the hanging or creeping geraniums (who have different names) are all part of the same family. 

Care

This is one of the easiest-to-grow plants and it literally thrives on neglect. In the nurseries one can find numerous cultivars, many of which are created by man, providing different flower colors, some bicolor varieties, in dwarf or taller forms, or even with fragrant flowers. 

They will thrive in any soil, even clay, as long as the drainage is good. You should water often but the soil should be allowed time to go dry in between waterings. When growing in pots, always empty the excess water from the trays to avoid root rot. You should also avoid spraying the leaves of the plant as they might get dry but you can occasionally give the plant a shower after sunset to remove the dust from the leaves. 

The impressive flowers will start blooming on the first warm days. Try to remove spent flowers as often as you can in order to encourage development of new flowers. Blooming will stop when the weather goes cold but the foliage will keep your garden looking full and fresh throughout the winter. 

Geraniums will produce more flowers if they are located in sunny spots, ideally facing south and they are very hardy to hot weather and draught. Some of the newest cultivars can be grown in full shade but they will flower less than those varieties that require sun. 

To enhance blooming, add liquid fertilizer (for blooming plants) every 15 days. You can also use pellet, slow release fertilizers - in this case you should start fertilizing in the beginning of spring, when the weather starts to warm up. 

You can plant or transplant geraniums at any time throughout the year, but it would be advisable to do so in spring or autumn so that your plant will have time to get settled in its new environment before extreme weather conditions set in (heatwaves or freezing).

When you buy geraniums, prefer plants of lower height and rich foliage. Also, prefer buying plants with more buds than open flowers.

Propagation

Propagation is done easily through cuttings. So, if you notice a beautiful geranium in a garden, cut off a small branch to grow yourselves. Select a strong branch and remove the lower leaves. Let the branch dry for a few hours and then plant it in a pot. Your new plant should stay out of the hot afternoon sun for a few days but you should water the plant regularly. Although it is not necessary, you can use rooting hormone for better results. In the first few days you will notice leaves going dry and falling off the plant but don’t get discouraged. Very soon you will notice new growth. When the new plant seems mature and strong enough, you can transplant it in a larger pot or in the garden. 

Disease

Part of their charm and ease is that geraniums are extremely hardy to most pests and disease. Occasionally you may notice aphids, if another plant of your garden is infested, but this is very rare. 

Add color to your garden or your balcony by growing geraniums. They are ideal for planting in limited space in the garden as well as for pots and hanging baskets if you select the creeping varieties. If you have ample space, try planting various cultivars of different colors together with other lower-height annuals such as marigolds or basil.

 

Mary Efanti
mefanti@otenet.gr

 

 

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