Among the most used plants on the terrace, geranium actually has a somewhat different botanical name: it belongs to the geraniaceae family, but is called pelargonium. The botanical species of this small shrub are native to Africa, where there are numerous species, some that produce shrubs of medium size, some climbing plants, some with succulent stems. The most common varieties of geraniums on the market belong to two hybrid species, the pelargonium zonale, with large velvety leaves, and the pelargonium peltatum, which produces long thin stems, also called climbing geranium, or Parisian.
The colors of geranium flowers range from various shades of white and off-white, zoned or variegated pink or red, to red, to pink to purple.
Growing geraniums: soil and exposure
The spread of geraniums is due in large part to the fact that they survive even in small vessels, flourishing even when the root system does not reach considerable dimensions; they also need little care and their flowering lasts from the late spring up to the first cold of autumn.
There are few tricks to get large, well-developed plants that are always in bloom:
- We supply a good balanced soil, fresh and rich, which must be changed every year, even if we keep the geranium plants during the winter; to our soil, which must be well drained, we will add a small amount of granular slow release fertilizer, to allow the plants to always have fertilization available.
- Place the pots in a sunny place, or in any case enjoy at least a few hours of direct sunlight every day; remember that geranium plants do not bloom if they are placed in a shady place, but produce only a large amount of leaves. If the plants are in a really very sunny position, we try to avoid too small pots, because we risk that they remain without water for excessively long periods of time.
Growing geraniums: watering and care
- We water abundantly when the soil is dry; we always wait for the soil to be dry, our geraniums are not too afraid of drought, but when we water let's make sure that the substrate in the pot is completely wet; if desired we can also fill the saucer, and wait for the soil to absorb water within a few hours. Even if we have placed a small amount of granular fertilizer in the soil, we also add a little soluble fertilizer for flowering plants to the water, about a quarter of that recommended on the fertilizer package will suffice.
- We pay due care to our plants. The geraniums continue to bloom and to produce new leaves during the whole vegetative season, with the passage of time the flowers wither and the older leaves as well; at least every week we review our plants and remove withered leaves, withered flowers, ruined twigs; in this way we will also tend not to favor the development of diseases.
Geraniums: Geraniums diseases
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Although generally the diseases that afflict the geraniums tend not to completely ruin the plants, it also happens to the geraniums to suffer some damages from the parasites; one of the most widespread diseases is the rust that generally does not develop if the plants are cleaned from the dry foliage and are cultivated in a well ventilated place, with the right watering; to avoid fungal diseases, it is important to clean the plants from the dry, to avoid excessive watering, to guarantee the right ventilation between the leaves, and also to avoid wetting the leaves during watering.
Some animal parasites also affect geraniums, generally they are caterpillars and larvae, which eat leaves, roots and flowers. To prevent the development of these insects it is advisable to provide a systemic insecticide at the beginning of the season, with watering; in general, a single administration is sufficient to prevent the appearance of these insects.